Appointment into key government offices will soon witness a shift from the tradition where the president makes nominations for posts.
President Goodluck Jonathan says positions are now to be advertised and filled by a competitive selection process.
The president says the shift would be kick-started by the appointment of the Managing Director for the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
“[The position] shall be advertised and given on merit,” President Jonathan said on Thursday in Abuja.
President Jonathan was speaking at the presidential award ceremony for the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) flagship programme.
“Soon appointment into key federal government offices shall be advertised and given to professional Nigerians to be selected through a merit-based process.
“You don’t have to know somebody who knows somebody before you can be given any high office to serve in the new direction we want to chart for the country,” Mr. Jonathan said.
The president maintained that that was the only way the country could realize the aspirations of its ebullient youthful population, who for long had been disenchanted that the “country is not where it ought to be”.
“If we are not able to do that, then we cannot get Nigeria to where this young people want the country to be,” the president said.
The president, who presented six awardees under the YouWin programme selected from across the six geopolitical zones with a N500,000 cheque on behalf of First Bank, said the era had come when every Nigerian should live anywhere in this country and do business.
The awardees are Bimlack Jimo (North-East); Bimtom Umefe (South-South); Murtala O. Bello (South-West); Gbenga Akinmankinde (North-Central); and Robinson Omotomiwa (South-East).
He said the selection of the awardees, irrespective of their states of origin, is a testament of his administration’s effort to “de-emphasize the issue of origin or indigeneship”.
Mr. Jonathan tasked the pioneer awardees to show commitment to the government’s gesture to support and encourage the entrepreneurs with seed capital to execute their business, asking them not to fail.
“You cannot afford to fail as the pioneer awardees. You must live up to the crucial responsibilities which your generation place on you,” he said.
The YouWin programme is a business plan competition midwifed by the federal ministry of finance aimed at job creation by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youth below age forty to develop and execute business ideas.
“YouWin came about because the unemployment levels in the country was unacceptable,” Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, coordinating minister of the Economy and minister of finance, said in her address.
She lauded the Jonathan administration for the support the initiative had enjoyed since its launch on October 11, 2011, adding that it had delivered on its “processes, culminating in the selection of the 1,200 winners”.
She maintained that the awardees, who were carefully selected from an initial 24,000 entries, emerged purely on merit.
The presidential award ceremony for the event, performed at the banquet hall of Aso Rock Villa, is the high point of events preceding the disbursement of financial grants by the federal government to the 1,200 benefiting youth.
The programme has the support of the World Bank and other financial institutions operating in the country.