Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says there’s need to review the definition of Federal Character in the Nigerian constitution.
He made the call on Saturday while declaring open the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) National Strategy Meeting and Retreat in Abuja.
Gbajabiamila said federal character, as currently defined in the constitution, is at variance with the nation’s realities as it limits national opportunities to geographical location alone without consideration for gender, persons living with disabilities and age classification.
The speaker stated that ethnicity or tribe is not a sufficient parameter for determining the true definition of federal character.
He noted that age, gender and religion should be part of the parameters that would define federal character, a principle designed to ensure fairness in appointment into public service institutions.
Gbajabiamila also challenged young legislators on charting a course in preparation for the Nigerian youth taking the mantle of leadership at all levels of government in the country.
“In thinking outside the box, I think we should consider an amendment in the constitution to the definition of federal character because when we talk about federal character within the context of appointments, infrastructure and the rest of it in the constitution, federal character as it is, is limited to where you are from, like your ethnicity,” he said.
“In other words, the constitution says that appointment and all those other things shall be based on federal character and federal character as we know it now, we have the Igbos, we have the Hausas, the Yorubas. There should be a Geographical Spread.
“I think it’s time that we expand the definition of federal character because the character of a Nation is not just based on your tribe, it’s based on religion, it’s based on where you are from, it’s based on your sex, it’s based on your age.
“So when you are talking about federal character, you look at all those things and they are what make up the federal character.
“You talk about so so percentage of women, so so percentage of youth, that is the true meaning of Federal character and I think that is what should be reflected in the constitution.”