But Federal Character Can Be Annoyingly Useful
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The Common Entrance Exam …
That exam that technically determined whether you could go from Primary to Secondary school, was my first experience of the concept called Federal Character.
Back then I did not understand it or comprehend it or even know that such a thing as Federal Character existed. To me it was just an unfair part of being
You see back in 1991/92 when Edo and Delta still existed in unity as one Bendel state … I had the unfortunate luxury to be from there … Bendel state, a state with one of the if not the highest cut off mark in the Nation at that time.
So as I rejoiced at how great (at least in my opinion) my Common Entrance Exam result was, I was quickly reminded that my great was not good enough for Bendel state. It did not matter that I held a result that would have made people in other states orgasm … my result from a Bendelite perspective was comical.
And sadly, nobody sat down to explain it to me. I just felt cheated. In my head I was like “why would people with lower scores go ahead of me.” It made absolutely no sense … it seemed unfair.
It wasn’t until I started getting older that I begun to understand what happened to me in 1991/92. You see my high-cut off mark was a strategic plan by the Nigerian Federal Government to ensure that our Secondary School had Federal Character.
Fast forward a few years to today and that Federal Character conversation has come up again see article here.
And this time we are not just talking about Secondary Schools … we are talking about the Federal Government itself! And several people are of the opinion that as long as the Nation succeeds … Federal Character is irrelevant. The message they spread is simply this, pick the “best.” And when I hear that it reminds me about my mentality in 1991 …
Which was, pick the best common entrance scores and put them in the best schools and leave the rest to fight for the scraps. Thankfully my 1991 mentality lost, because if it had won, we would have had Secondary schools dominated by just a few States. And their performances when they entered school from a purely arithmetic perspective would be very good after-all they are the best, but overall for Nigeria it would not have been good, as a certain number of states would be cut out.
So as controversial as it is, I believe Federal Character is something the Federal government should make a conscious effort to adhere to. Because the Federal Government sets the tone for the entire nation and when organizations, institutions and other bodies see the Federal Government discarding Federal Character, they will tend to do the same.
And I know it is difficult, almost impossible to make Federal Character happen … but the main thing is that our government at least puts in a solid and honest effort to achieve it without sacrificing the success of our Nation!