THE OMBUDSMAN INSTITUTION AND PUBLIC COMPLAINTS COMMISSION, NIGERIA.
1. THE ORIGIN OF OMBUDSMAN (EVOLUTION OF THE GLOBAL CONCEPT
As modern institution, it dates back to the office of “Justitieombudsman” Which was established by the parliament watchdog in Sweden
In 1919, over a century after Sweden, Finland adopted the concept; Denmark followed in 1954, and Norway became the last of the Scandinavian countries to do so when it adopted the concept in 1962.
West Germany (as it then was) adopted the concept during its military era in 1954, and thus qualified as the first non-Scandinavian country to do so. While New Zealand takes the credit of being the first Commonwealth country to introduce it in the civil and administrative sphere in 1962.
In England (United Kingdom), the concept was also mooted when a minister of the crown, Rt. Hon. Richard Crossman MP tabled a Bill which later became known as the Parliamentary Commissioner Act for the creation of an Ombudsman. Since then, Ombudsman has become a basic and regular feature of British parliamentary administration.
2. ESTABLISHMENT OF PUBLIC COMPLAINTS COMMISSION, NIGERIA
The Ombudsman concept moved to the West African coast when Nigeria embraced the idea with the establishment of Public Complaints Commission. (The Nigeria version of the International Ombudsman) on the recommendation of the report of the public service review panel which was set-up by the General Yakubu Gowon led Federal Military Government to look into the conditions of service of all public workers in the Federation.
The report which became known as the UDOJI REPORT named after the panel’s chairman, Late Chief Jerome Udoji.
The institution, legally speaking came into existence via Decree No. 31 of 16th October, 1975 during Murtala/Obasanjo regime and was amended by Decree No. 21 of 1979.
It was later entrenched in the 1979 constitution and encoded as an Act of the National Assembly in CAP 37, LAWS OF FEDERATION OF NIGERIA, 1990. It is now encapsulated in CAP, FFN, 2004.
At the global level, well over 100 countries in all the 6 continents now have the offices of the Ombudsman which include 30 national offices on the continent of Africa alone.
A. MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONAL FRAMEWORK:
The Commission is headed by a Chief Commissioner, other State Commissioners (political heads), Directors and other supporting staff (technocrats).
3. NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS, STATE OFFICES AND AREA OFFICES:
A. The National Headquarters is located at Plot No. 424, Aguiyi Ironsi Way, Maitama, Abuja.
B. The Commission has its presence in all the 36 States Nationwide and the Federal Capital Territory (FTC), Abuja Office.
C. AREA OFFICES:
Furthermore, there are additional 5 Area Offices in each State and Abuja, bringing the total to 185 Area Offices Nationwide.
D. LAGOS STATE OFFICE HEADQUARTERS AND AREA OFFICES:
Lagos State Headquarters of the Public Complaints Commission is located at the GLASS HOUSE within the OLD NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMPLEX, at Tafawa Balewa Square (T.B.S), Race Course, Lagos.
4. A. VISION STATEMENT
‘’To restore the dignity of man through the enthronement of rule of law and protection of the individual/organization against ADMINISTRATIVE INJUSTICE’’
5. B. MISSION STATEMENT
‘’To promote an effective and efficient service that is responsible and responsive to the needs of the citizenry through investigation and resolution of Complaints against Federal, State, Local Government, Public Corporations and private sector organizations and their officials’’.
6. MANDATE ( STATUTORY POWER)
Furthermore, in consonance with all Ombudsman in the world, Public Complaints Commission, Nigeria, is mandated with a unique role of securing moral equity, attainment of social/administrative justice that is cost effective ( i.e. free of charge).
It is general, a grievance-handling institution or in other words, a dispute resolution organ of our contemporary society.
These grievances arising from such maladies like rigid bureaucracy administrative injustices/excesses abuse of office, non-adherence to due process and principle of rule of law, unwarranted aggression, oppression, repression and suppression.
B. In addition, violation of even the most basic fundamental human rights and deliberate act of redtapism by those in the corridors of power or persons vested with authority, and their surrogates and collaborator, high-handedness and insensitivity by self-perceived super bureaucrats and tin gods, even, in the face of glaring incompetence-corruption, errors, arbitrary dismissals, terminations and retirements, unbridled, un-principled and flagrant violation of lawfully laid down rules, regulations, procedures and a myriad of other excesses which are very common daily occurrences in human affairs and interactions.
A. Thus, Public Complaints Commission (P.C.C) was established and saddled with the great responsibility of protecting, up-holding and guaranteeing social justice and equity in our polity so as to engender a peaceful, harmonious and stable social order.
B. An administrative in-justice in any form a part from causing a traumatic effect in the mind and psyche of the victim, is also tantamount to societal peace and harmony, and indeed civilization can slide into chaos, and anarchy if there was no built-in mechanism arbiter independent and un-bias or organ such as the Public Complaints Commission to consistently effect these checks and balances in our daily official conducts and administrative activities.
C. Ultimately, the Ombudsman as an institution has the powers to thoroughly investigate, criticize, and to recommend appropriate and corrective actions as it relates to any perceived wrongs that are NOT in consistent with normal societal norms and practice.
RESEACHED BY THE INFORMATION UNIT.