Ernest Ndukwe, Chairman of MTN Nigeria has challenged the skewed administration of quota system in national appointments which has favoured sentiment rather than competence as part of malaise slowing Nigeria’s economic development.
He was concerned about the twisted implementation of the quota system which he said has not been executed professionally in the interest of the economy. He said any club that wants to achieve results must play with its best team.
The quota system existed prior to independence in 1960 but the Federal Character standard was officially recognised in the 1999 Constitution.
Ndukwe who spoke at the biennial lecture of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, FUTO Alumni Association in Lagos, believes that every part of Nigeria has qualified people but said “Unfortunately, each time we are employing, we don’t consider thorough processes to get the best of Nigerians. Instead, we pick our relatives and friends”.
“What this does is that at the end of the day, the nation does not get the best people who will produce the best result. This lack of thorough process to get the best-qualified people has held this country down and we need to address it”, he said.
Citing examples of other countries that appoint qualified citizens and non-nationals into critical offices to achieve economic progress, Ndukwe who was vice chairman/CEO of Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC said that avoiding unnecessary sentiment and bias in appointments to drive the economy, is how Nigeria can move forward.
Emeka Oguzie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Development and Innovation in FUTO who also spoke at the event corroborated Ndukwe’s assertion. He said in every society, only 5 percent are performers while 95% are mediocre but unfortunately they are in charge of the system.
Oguzie said when organisations and government employ people with less qualifications, those people will be in charge tomorrow and the whole system will be condemned to failure. “Many in civil service and academia don’t have passion for the work and no interest and no motivation”.
He said in academia, there are wrong people. Few are there because they have the passion but the majority of them are there because they are looking for work and nobody is able to hit the target. “If you have the wrong people working for you, you cannot hit the target”, he said.
Speaking on the Alumni topic ‘Harnessing technological innovations for sustainable development in Nigeria’, Oguzie said there cannot be economic development without science and technology. He said Nigeria has been pursuing economic development based on natural resources mainly for oil and gas and minimally from science and technology.
He linked innovations in science and technology to research but regretted that research in Nigeria is largely self-funded or funded by universities which are poorly funded by the government. It is also worrisome that most research is not for economic development but for promotion and publication by lecturers, he said.
While expressing worry about the poor implementation of Nigeria’s projects and research funds due to personal interests, Oguzie called for collaboration between government, industry and academia to produce research results that will impact industry and governance. He was also worried that industries have not embraced research for improvement.
Speaking earlier, Laz Uzoechi, national president FUTO Alumni Association said this year’ biennial lecture came at a time when Nigeria is at a crossroads yearning for assistance in its quest towards revitalising various segments of the society.
Deus Uche Osuji, chairman of the 2023 lecture organising committee said since 2006, FUTO Alumni Association has been organising public lectures with the theme ‘Nigeria’s quest for development- the technological fast-tracking ‘ as part of the alumni contribution to catalyse tech progress in Nigeria.