In a thought-provoking address at the 41st annual Olumide Memorial Lecture in Abuja, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, representing Abia South Senatorial District, made a compelling case against the current policy of appointing individuals based on federal character rather than merit in Nigeria. The senator argued that this approach poses a significant obstacle to achieving substantial economic growth and development in the country.
Senator Abaribe expressed concerns about the potential consequences of a system that prioritizes federal character over merit, suggesting that it could lead to the appointment of unqualified individuals to key positions. He emphasized that such a practice undermines the fundamental principles of fairness and equity in the distribution of posts and socio-economic opportunities.
At the heart of Senator Abaribe’s critique is the notion that the policy of federal character, as currently implemented, may inadvertently facilitate the misallocation of resources and the appointment of individuals driven more by geo-tribal considerations than by merit. This, he argues, contradicts the original intent of the Federal Character Principle, which was designed to ensure inclusivity and equal representation across diverse regions of the country.
The senator’s comments come at a time when there is growing discontent over perceived imbalances in appointments made by the current administration led by President Bola Tinubu. Critics have raised concerns about what they perceive as lopsided appointments, which they argue do not adequately reflect a commitment to merit-based considerations.
In his address, Senator Abaribe lamented the distortion of the Federal Character Principle, pointing out that it seems to have been corrupted by convoluted reasoning. He underscored the importance of upholding the true spirit of federal character to promote competence and meritocracy.
“It is baffling that the beautiful concept of federal character seems to have been corrupted in our country by some kind of convoluted reasoning, at least given its couching in our statutes and even its practice expectations,” said Senator Abaribe.
He went on to criticize the current application of the Federal Character Principle, suggesting that it has deviated from its original purpose. Instead of fostering inclusivity and equal opportunity, Senator Abaribe argued that the policy has been used to advance selfish ambitions, allowing incompetence to thrive under the guise of geo-tribal considerations.
“If the Federal Character Initiative intends to carry every polity along, it should not be corrupted by disproportionate assessment modules discounting merit,” Senator Abaribe emphasized.
The senator’s call for a reevaluation of the Federal Character Principle aligns with a broader discourse on governance and leadership in Nigeria. The tension between federal character considerations and merit-based appointments reflects deeper questions about the country’s commitment to building competent and effective institutions.
As Nigeria grapples with complex challenges and strives for economic development, the debate sparked by Senator Abaribe’s remarks highlights the importance of reevaluating policies to ensure they align with the nation’s goals. The quest for merit-based appointments is not just about fairness; it is about fostering a system that rewards competence, innovation, and dedication to service—elements essential for steering the country toward sustained growth and development.
Senator Abaribe’s advocacy for a shift toward meritocracy resonates with those who envision a Nigeria where appointments are made based on qualifications, expertise, and a genuine commitment to national progress. The conversation he has ignited is likely to contribute to ongoing discussions about governance reforms and the pursuit of policies that will propel Nigeria into a future characterized by inclusive development and economic prosperity