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Nigeria At 60: Sanusi Speaks Against Placing Federal Character Above Merit, Competence



Sanusi Mohammad Sanusi

Sanusi Mohammad Sanusi, former emir and ex-Central Bank governor, has spoken against the practice of federal character principle in Nigeria.

Speaking on Thursday at The Platform, an annual conference organised by Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos, to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th independence, Sanusi wondered why federal character was being placed above merit and competence in the country which, according to him, has not solved the problem of marginalisation; a core reason for its adoption.

“We should have federal character but why do we have a minister that can deliver but another that cannot deliver. Why is federal character always pursued at the expense of merit and competence?” he said. 

“What are our national values? Are we a country that respects merit? Are we a country that rewards performance? Are we a country that places the people at the heart?”

The ex-CBN governor further remarked that the nation must move away from religious and ethnic sentiments and focus more on one’s competence.

“If you ask people why they are being marginalised, they would look at the composition of political offices. When you go down to the masses and find out who the poorest people are,” he said.

“Where do you have the highest number of out of school children? Where do you have the highest level of malnutrition? Where do you have the highest level of underemployment? Those are what affect the vast majority of Nigerians.

“Then you begin to know who the truly marginalised people are. And you would be surprised to know those who have been – quote and unquote, marginalising others politically. If you look at political officers, they actually come from areas where people are most marginalised when you look at real economic indicators.

“So if there is any proof that being from one part of the country in government does not necessarily translate to better effort, that country is Nigeria.

“So until we get out of this almost juvenile obsession of where is this person from, what religion does he have and actually begin to ask those who wants to be president, ministers and governors – what are your credentials? What do you bring to the table? What do you have to offer the people.”

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