Abolish Quota System or Quota System will Abolish Nigeria

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The Federal Character principle which gave rise to quota system in Nigeria was established to solve the problems of inequality and marginalization as expressed by certain parts of Nigeria. One of the reasons for introducing the quota system was because of differences in the socio-economic development of different parts of Nigeria. Secondly, there were disparities in the levels of educational developments in different parts of the country. Some sections of the country (North) were alleged to be educationally disadvantaged, while some regions (South) of the country were acclaimed to be educationally advantaged. Therefore the past leadership of Nigeria thought it wise to introduce quota system so as to bridge the gap.

The federal character principle was adopted during the 1977 Constitutional Drafting Committee. It became part of 1979 constitution of Nigeria. From this point in our nation’s history, the questions of merit or competitiveness among Nigerians were set aside in place of quota system. This system has hindered development and it defiles all logic. How can a nation make progress when their best cannot occupy their due positions because we are practising quota? We cannot move forward as a nation by putting round pegs in square holes.

From the time of incorporating the quota system into the Nigerian law books till date, the federal government has used it as a policy instrument in recruiting people to all federal government establishments like the armed forces, police, ministries, federal government owned universities etc. Because it’s in our statute book, the various state governments and all local governments’ use the quota system in their various appointments etc. Merit, experience and hard work do not matter if quota system is in use especially when it comes to appointments. Its contrary to what Max Weber (1864-1920) said, that employees should be hired and promoted based on merit and expertise. We choose mediocre in place of merit. The use of quota system has brought about intense lobbying each time there is vacancy to be filled.

Thisday newspapers of 25th April 2009 online version reported that President Yar’Adua has become “sick and tired” of high level lobbying from all corners for the replacement of Inspector General of Police who is due for retirement soon. This is the result of quota system, were merit can be set aside in filling a vacant position.

Quota system means injustice as far as am concerned. Apologies to its beneficiaries. The mere existence of this charter in our law books means that the country has been established on the paths of injustice. This concept of quota system will certainly prevent the best from emerging in all circumstances. America was established on freedom, equality, human rights and democracy. They live by it and they also export it to the whole world. Quoting the former President of United States, late John F. Kennedy, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty”. Because America is a free a society, the emergence of Barack Obama as the United States President became possible.

In the United Kingdom, there is the equal opportunities act. Based on this act, United Kingdom employers makes appointment on merit by a fair and open process. Employers treat applicants equally regardless of your ethnic background, origin, religious belief, gender, sexual orientation, disability etc. Since Nigeria started the federal character/quota system the country has retrogressed.

I want to be proven wrong, but I believe that the spirit of federal character/quota system gave rise to the zoning formula adopted by most political parties, example PDP. This same zoning formula contributed immensely to the emergence of the former president Obasanjo. I will leave Nigerians to make their judgement on the administration of Obasanjo. My own assessment on them is that they performed very poor especially with conducting elections, power supply, road maintenance, health system, fighting corruption etc. The same zoning formula which is a brain child of federal character/quota system gave rise to the emergence of President Musa Yar’Adua.

It will be better for Nigeria to have credible leaders who will discharge their duties effectively from one section of the country, than what we are having today. Nigerians will benefit more if leaders who will deliver on dividends of democracy emerge from a particular state or region. Choosing leadership based on zoning is completely wrong. This concept of quota system has done more harm than good. Therefore this is the time to abolish quota system or quota system will abolish Nigeria.

Quota system laid down the quest for the scramble and looting of our nations resources. People, groups, politicians, contractors etc lobby for positions all because quota system has replaced merit. When people, politicians, regions or states do not get positions they start shouting of marginalization. When they succeed, they loot because they feel it’s their turn. Patriotism and national interest do no longer exits in Nigeria due to this policy. Quota system encourages tribalism and division. This twin evil makes peace and love to be difficult in a country like Nigeria

Just recently, it was on the headlines that Nigerian Senate was boiling over the distribution of 60 billion naira voted for constituency projects. Aggrieved Senators accused the Senate appropriation committee leadership of being discriminatory in the sharing of projects among the senatorial districts. This accusation of being discriminatory in sharing projects can also be attributed to quota system or federal character. This is despite the personal interest of our senators.

Quota system is like an evil which was left unchecked. This evil (quota) was tolerated and encouraged by the Nigerian leadership. Quoting Late Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India, “Evil unchecked grows; evil tolerated poisons the whole system”. Quota system has poisoned the entire Nigerian system.

The aim of introducing quota system should have been achieved by now which is well over 30 years. Therefore I strongly advocate for its abolition. I use this medium to call on the President to start the process of abolishing this system. It has done more harm than good. Since we are clamoring for constitutional review, let’s remind ourselves on the need to remove this from the books. Greater part of our problems can be traced to this system. Hoping that the Nigerian authorities have taken note. May God bless Nigeria.

About Chinedu Vincent Akuta
Chinedu Vincent Akuta is an activist and leader of "Support Option A4 Group" Leicester-UK

Posted in: Nigeria Matters

3 Comments

  1. omolara says:

    its very encouraging

  2. tennis55_2@hotmail.com says:

    Quote: President Yar’Adua has become “sick and tired” of high level lobbying from all corners for the replacement of Inspector General of Police who is due for retirement soon. This is the result of quota system, were merit can be set aside in filling a vacant position. Respond: Mr. Akuta: Nigeria’s high density ethnic nation, which is the reason quota-system, cannot be easily abolished. Ethnicities fight for the wrong reasons, we do not see Nigeria as a group; instead see it as Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa, Jukun, and Tiv, etc, kingdoms. The only proven time Nigerians see themselves as Nigerians is when they live abroad; at home we are divided to our groups…very sad!

    Check Facts

    Quote: Its contrary to what Max Weber (1864-1920) said, that employees should be hired and promoted based on merit and expertise. Respond: Webber visualization is completely the opposite of the diverse society as Nigeria, where merits does not come first. Webber only as a westerner was looking for ways to develop the west with the limited resources they have, so the concepts of merit take all for development was good. However, should we copy webber ideology, then Nigeria government must as well equally be dominated by a single group, say for example…Yoruba group? Ideas of development in the west are control by one race.

    Quote: America was established on freedom, equality, human rights and democracy. They live by it and they also export it to the whole world. Respond: America founding father may have the good slogan-notions, but sincerely writing, on freedom and depend on your notion of freedom, it score is 41 percent; equality score only 35 percent; human rights score only 36 percent and democracy score only 39 percent out of 100 percentage[s]. There too many problems with these notions in America because of greediness among its leaders. As Nigeria has it quota-system failures so is the United States. America may have successes in exporting these conceptions but they will continue to be problems to those that inherit or better term consume as cultures have different behavior modes, so their discipline must be address by situation[s].

    Quote: Because America is a free a society, the emergence of Barack Obama as the United States President became possible. Respond: I dispute your assessments: Obama’s not only black in a gene but also white in a gene, when I hear Africans speak of, or write about Obama as black, I conclude as bias judgments. Beside the reason Obama was elected, America is on trial and error period with the rest of the world to see what changes they can make to up lift their overall wellbeing, Adam Smith economic theory has proven that, America will do anything to survive; Obama’s is an example especially having two genes. To really make America acceptable as you claim, its leaders should elect an African American slave descendant to the white house; in this sense the rest of the world will acknowledge America as acceptability nation. Obama’s father in-immigrated to the United States by choice!

  3. bonjeh says:

    I concur with your point. Everything should base on merit, the northerner benefit in the military bcus of their lack of education, they went into the military. The southern benefit bcus of their banking, business and finance studies. Now we need to make our country benefit in all areas of expertise.

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