Federal character should be based on merit, not on ethnicity – Emir Sanusi

Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido
Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido [Photo Credit: Channels TV]

Worried by misapplication of the federal character principle, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, said on Thursday that the principle should be based strictly on merit rather than on ethnicity.

Mr. Sanusi spoke at the 10th memorial lecture of Kehinde Sofola with the theme: “The Role of the Legal Profession in Nation Building: the Nigerian Context.”

The emir, who chaired the lecture, said the government should only ensure that representatives of the people in political, legal, or economic institutions in the country were drawn from suitably qualified individuals and not on ethnic considerations.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Character Commission Act was promulgated in 1995 and later fused into the 1999 Constitution in the wake of agitations for fair share of political positions across the country.

In the guiding principles and formula for the distribution of all cadres of posts across the country, the Act stipulates in its Part 1 that (1) “Each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory shall be equitably represented in all national institutions and in public enterprises and organisations. (2) The best and the most competent persons shall be recruited from each state of the federation to fill positions reserved for the indigenes of the FCT.”

It was introduced to promote national unity and foster national loyalty instead of regional interests and eventually give every Nigerian a sense of belonging no matter anyone’s religion, language or ethnic group.

Mr. Sanusi said: “The issue of federal character should not be an excuse for nepotism; it should be based strictly on merit and not on family or ethnic sentiments.”

According to him, a true application of the federal character principle will help to preserve the rule of law in the country.

“As we live today, we must understand that it is our duty to respect the various institutions of our country.

“We cannot sit and watch as spectators as our institutions are being destroyed; to be a true Nigerian we must learn to look at our leadership and tell them where they are going wrong,” Mr. Sanusi said.

On human rights and liberty, the emir stressed the need for the society to pay attention to child rights.

“No religion permits infringement on the rights of any child. You find children in the streets hawking when they should be in school while some female children are even forced into marriage.

“Even the Sharia Law requires you to first seek the consent of your female child before giving her out in marriage and so the rule of law expects us to be law abiding,” he said.

Mr. Sanusi also urged leaders at all levels to obey the rule of law rather than being intoxicated with power, saying “power is transient”.

As leaders, he said, they should perform their duties diligently for the benefit and common good of the people in accordance to the laws of the country.

A rights lawyer, Femi Falana, a discussant at the lecture, called on lawyers to abide by the rule of law and shun every form of corrupt practices in court and in public life.

According to Mr. Falana, the rule of law demands that the country is governed by law and the constitution.

He appealed to leaders to ensure that the rights and liberties of the citizenry were protected, adding “this can only be done by adherence to the law.”

Mr. Falana condemned corrupt practices by judicial and political officers and urged citizens to stand up and fight corruption.

NAN also reports that the lecture was attended by the Edo governor, Godwin Obaseki, a political activist, Junaid Muhammed, Justice Bimbo Obaseki-Adejumo and senior lawyers. (NAN)


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  • Okokondem

    “Mr. Falana condemned corrupt
    practices by judicial and political officers and urged citizens to stand up and fight corruption.”

    That statement by Femi Falana is my favorite takeaway from the lectures. The question remains how do citizens stand up and fight corruption?

    There’s a feeling among the average Nigerian regarding corruption of lethargy and complacency, which is rather unfortunate. The right attitude is to remain resilient in the fight against corruption and not to give up.

    The question we should all ask ourselves is, how do I as an individual contribute to the fight against corruption? How do I contribute collectively to the fight against corruption? One fact has become obvious, Nigerians can no longer be idle participants in the fight to reclaim their destiny.

    God and nature endowed us with human capital and natural resources and it will be a travesty for the people to stand idle while all their commonwealth is carted away by the kleptomaniac entrusted with the wealth.

    Sanusi sometimes says what sounds like the right things except it all comes to nothing more than platitudes when the person fails to live up to his own preaching.

  • emmanuel

    Thanks to Sanusi for re-echoing why Nigeria is very backward – more than two third of his tribesmen in Civil and Public service are mediocres who either score 2 marks only at qualifying exams into secondary or tertiary institutions of leaning

  • Tony Asiegbu

    Another good outing from Emir Sanusi, I wish those in authority and especially other traditional rulers from his side of the divide can emulate him. If they do, it will definitely change thought pattern of our brothers from the north, AND ACTUALLY UPLIFT THE COUNTRY AS A WHOLE FOR THE BENEFIT OF EVERYBODY.