1. They encourage people from the middle, and de-motivate those from the top, of the JAMB results list. In any economy – talk less of one in need of rapid development – this is a stiff price to pay for some amorphous 'sense of belonging'; like choking your strongest plants so the weaker ones can flourish.
2. And that all-important 'sense of belonging'? My brother, it is nowhere to be seen. We are more sectarian today than ever before, in spite of the fact that we have more in common now than our founding fathers did. Why? I'll tell you why. The ONE question I guarantee you every Nigerian has to answer on a regular basis is, 'What is your State of Origin?' No matter how Time tries to integrate us, that odious question pulls us right back into the historical trenches.
3. What we need, in reality, is water not jobs in the Ministry of Water Resources; light not slots in the Ministry of Power; roads not offices in the Ministry of Works. We have been 'sharing' these things for 50 years, but we are poorer today than when we first started, because it is the PROVISION of these services, not the distribution of positions in the agency charged with providing them, that makes the difference.
4. Once you have a representative Legislature, you don't need a representative Executive. Yes. We already have a 360-member National Assembly. And it has over-sight powers over the Government. It can summon, question, challenge, correct any actions carried out by any MDA. So, what is the point in insisting that the President's Cabinet be another mini-National Assembly? My brother, its own job is to execute, that is why it is called 'the Executive'! And, when it comes to 'execution' the ONLY thing that matters is COMPETENCE.
5. The real solution to 'marginalization' is education and capacity-building. If there are people that will be truly marginalized by a meritocratic system, what we need to do for them is NOT take positions away from more competent people; because, in the end, quotas are only a temporary fix. Making them permanent, in fact, just encourages mediocrity to stay mediocre. What we need to do for the marginalized is up-grade their skills set so they too can compete with the best.
6. There is no reliable link between the ethnic identity of the holder of a public office and the quality of development that comes to his/her place of origin. The fact that people from the North have been in power for over 30 years notwithstanding, Northern Nigeria is still worse off compared to the South. Oil theft and environmental devastation in the Niger Delta have reached epic proportions under a President from there. Boko Haram broke out under a 'Northern' President. Five Senate Presidents in succession did little for the fortunes of the South East. It is the capacity, not the ethnicity, of a leader that matters.
7. Regardless of the ethnicity of a performer in office, you cannot restrict the benefits of good governance to members of his/her ethnic group. So, Tafawa Balewa laid the corner stone for the Kainji Dam, is it only Bauchi people that are enjoying the power it generates today? K.O. Mbadiwe laid the foundation stone for Surulere, is it only Igbos that are living there now? Does it matter who built the road, or the hospital, or the classroom? As long as it is there, everyone is able to use it to better their lives.
8. All over the world, the poorer people become the more sectarian and xenophobic they act. Prosperity is a unifier and poverty is a divider. We can preach all we want, as long as the quality of public services keep falling, people will keep getting angrier, more hateful and more violent towards 'the other', and the government. The provision of efficient public services is the only thing that can reverse this trend.
9. We live in an extremely complex world. In the coming years, we are going to be dealing with issues like the advancing Sahara, rising sea levels, Al-Qaeda in the Maghrib, the EU muscling in on our sub-region, the advance of China, the increasing military presence of the US in Africa, the search by the West for alternative sources of energy, our extreme vulnerability to fluctuations to the price of oil in the global market, etc. It is a complex environment full of many intricately connected threats. We will need extremely skilled individuals at the helm of affairs, or we WILL dash the ship of state against the rocks.
10. Look at the Super Eagles! Nobody has ever one day asked that positions in our football team be equitably distributed, or that the captainship, or position of the coach, be rotated between North and South. Why? Because we want the team to win! Yet, what is it fighting for? Worthless pieces of metal. How about the fight to alleviate poverty? How about the fight to educate millions of Almajiri? How about the fight to eradicate polio and reduce maternal mortality to negligible numbers? How about the fight to increase power generation seven fold by 2020? We have so much more at stake in these fights. So, how is it we can demand that Keshi picks our best 23 for the World Cup, and yet tolerate less in our Government? How?