By Nduka Chiejina. THE NATION .December 06, 2012
The Constitution encourages mediocrity, especially with the federal character principle enshrined in it, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said yesterday.
Sanusi demanded to know the relationship between the federal character principle and the number of ministers in the cabinet.
He spoke on the last day of the Nigeria Economic Summit (NES) in Abuja.
Sanusi said: “As intelligent and as educated human beings, what is the connection between the number of states and the number of ministries at the federal level. We are talking about federal character, so if you have 50 states today, you must have 50 ministries; if you have a 100 states you must have 100 ministries?”
He criticised the Constitution for saying that there must be a minister from every state. Sanusi said: “If we create a state for the Southeast since they say they want one more state, then you must have one more minister and create a ministry, even if we don’t need it. So, because you have created one more state, the federal government must have a minister from that state”.
He described these as political issues that must be addressed. Sanusi lamented that Nigeria has “a constitution that makes it impossible for us to develop”.
Defending his position, he said: “We are required by law that the President must appoint a minister from every state. So, you have 36 and there is a system now where after the 36, again because of the federal character, you now have one per geopolitical zone. So, you have 42. We cannot develop, if we continue to have so much of our resources where government is spending 70 per cent of the nation’s revenue on itself and leaving 30 per cent to the people. Is that a sensible situation?”
The solution he explained “is to face this reality”. “Now, we are amending the constitution, why do we need 500 legislators?And let’s ask ourselves why is it that no African country has adopted this political structure? Only Nigeria, not even South Africa.”
He described himself as “a strong believer of diversity, but as a country, we have taken this diversity beyond a reasonable limit.
“We have focused so much on diversity and have succeeded in enthroning mediocrity so long as the diversity requirement is met.
Sanusi added: “The greatest challenge facing this country is the challenge of a people that have lost sight of the importance of merit.
“You have 42, you do cabinet reshuffle and bring in another 42 and I’m sure between 1999 and now, we have had more than 200 ministers and how many of them can we really remember?”
Because there are too many ministers in the cabinet, Sanusi said, “their jobs are so poorly defined and you cannot remember what they did because the only way to remember a man is based on what he did”.
Using himself and his state as an example, Sanusi said Kano State “used to be one state”. “But now it is Kano and Jigawa. When it was one state you had one governor and maybe nine or 10 commissioners. I went to King’s College and Ahmadu Bello University on Kano State government scholarship. My parents didn’t pay. I was in King’s College and the state government even paid for my rail ticket from Lagos to Kano and back and I wasn’t the only one.”
However, that one state, Sanusi said, has become “two states , two governors, two deputy governors, 40 commissioners, maybe 80 legislators and only God knows how many special advisers and assistants”.