I read Olalekan Adigun’s piece, Federal Character and Nation Building, with great interests sometimes last week. While I agreed with some of the points he raised, permit me to issue my thoughts in response to his largely-fallible position.
The Federal Character principle which was popularized by the 1979 Constitution was introduced to serve as a panacea to the regional conflicts and discord that characterized Nigeria in the First Republic. The main thrust of the principle is to also guarantee ALL Nigerians equal access to and participation in the political and administrative affairs of the country by ensuring that no person or a group of states have predominance in the governance of the country as it was the experience in the First Republic.
The principle has become a necessity in a country like Nigeria where discrimination and hatred among ethnic group still thrive, as deviating from this well-meaning principle may incite strife, ethnic discord and suspicion in a country like ours’. Making reference to the bloody 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which was basically incited by the predominance of a certain ethnic tribe –Hutus over their Tutsi counterparts, in the arms of government. If the Rwandan experience is still with us, do we think it is time we jettison Federal character as Adigun advocated in his write-up?
My position, however, remains clear in the light of our present reality as nation on this matter; only federal character principle can guarantee equity and fairness in the distribution of public posts and socio-economic infrastructure among the federating units in Nigeria. And until our country becomes an egalitarian society, the federal character principle is the only card left for us to play as a nation.
***Onyenaucheya Kenechukwu Chibuzor is a social commentator and a student of the University of Lagos, Akoka. He can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org +2348127083499