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 black Bendelite.

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!

twitterWritten by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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Author: Ofili

Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
Follow him on Twitter
Stalk him on Instagram
Read his crazy titled books on konga or okadabooks
Feed his children at…no wait he has no kids…. 



4 comments on “But Federal Character Can Be Annoyingly Useful

  1. SherlockO on said:

    I’m sorry but this is bollocks! You were cheated by this Federal Character (a.k.a concept of balancing advanced/backward states educationally) and you should be angry. As a kid I felt cheated by this and just like you I could see no sense in it. My parents had said to me “be the best” and though I was one of the best in my class. I was one of the last to get into school (my bar was higher) simply because I came from a certain state. Now this breeds Nepotism – in my case we had to do some sorting to get me into Sec. School & I don’t feel 1 bit guilty about it. In fact I feel angry. They made me pay for something I should have qualified for in the 1st place – and Nepotism no matter how u preach and condemn is fought by using meritocratic tools. Federal Character breeds laziness. While I get your point about having an all inclusive government, I think this is a poor analogy. By your thinking there should be Federal Character too in Sports abi?

    • SherlockO, Your comments are well received. I eventually got accepted into Kings College, although I ended up going to a Private university. So yes, your experience is much different from mine.

      And your experience is the way a lot of Whites feel about affirmative action in the US, where under-represented Blacks are given an extra boost in colleges. Its controversial so we might not see eye to eye on this.

      In sports you are right, Federal Character is difficult to implement. But like I said in my article, it is a difficult thing period, whether sports or education. But we should sha try. At the end some states will naturally excel more at sports, education and leadership than others.
      Okechukwu Ofili latest post is But Federal Character Can Be Annoyingly UsefulMy Profile

  2. SherlockO on said:

    Yes It’s sorta like affirmative action but less positive. In the US it was designed to redress decades of inequality brought on by racial discrimination – slavery etc. Anambra State did nothing to make the man from Rivers or Niger state unequal so why make him pay for it? Again why put the cut-off marks for these states so low that you could virtually guarantee that along with a few smart ones you’d have a couple of morons offered admission. These morons would then have to sort/cheat to pass. This policy has failed us and has contributed to corruption. I figure it is time for us to have true Federalism. It will take care of a lot of recurring problems national issues…Oh well! This na weekend. Make I go unwind

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