Selecting Merit over Quota

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MAKING COMMON SENSE BY BEN MURRAY BRUCE

If the reason we do not apply quota system in sports is because we want to be successful, then what is the reason why we apply it to politics? Nigeria knows that she cannot win in sports if she chooses her sportsmen and women on the basis of tribe and religion, so if we want to win as a country, why are we choosing our leaders on the basis of tribe and religion?

No nation on earth can make progress if she sacrifices merit on the altar of tribe and religion whether you call it quota system or any other name. That is why Nigeria is not winning on the economy and in international trade.

When you are sick, you do not want the best doctor from your tribe to treat you. You want the best doctor period. Nigeria is sick and needs the best doctor! The civil service is sick. It is full of corruption. And why? Because it is not founded on merit. You cannot build excellent without merit! Quota system in our schools and the civil service is preventing the type of competition that would have resulted in excellence.

Recently, I was looking at the cut off marks for students from the different states in Nigeria and what I saw is nothing short of legalised discrimination. How can one state have a cut off mark of 4 while another has a cut off of 136 in the same country. Can we have progress with such brazen injustice? If after over 40 years of practising quota system one state still has a cut off mark of 4 is that not proof that it is not working?

We want unity in Nigeria and as long as we retain quota system, there will be resentments amongst Nigeria which will fuel disunity. The state with a cut off mark of 4 has absolutely no incentive to improve on education. And that is why our people are not as patriotic as they could be. How can we use tribe and religion as standards for entry into educational institutions and the civil service, yet expect the same people not to be loyal to their tribe and religion? That is what got you where you are so that is where your loyalty would lie! How can PHCN work when their engineers were selected on the basis of quota rather than on merit?
How could Nigeria Airways have succeeded if her officials were employed on the basis of quota rather than on merit?

Are we surprised Nigeria National Shipping Line collapsed when staff were chosen on the basis of quota rather than on merit? How can our ministries thrive when civil servants are employed on the basis of quota rather than on merit? We need a new Nigeria. One founded on merit and excellence not on quota system and mediocrity. Any leader that thinks his or her ethnic group cannot compete intellectually with others in the project called Nigeria is insulting his people!

We must introduce meritocracy instead of nepotism. Just like we do when we want to win in sports, we must select our best 11 to man our critical national institutions. That is the only way Nigeria can win in education, the economy, international trade and in sports. But if we continue to apply quota system, there will be discontent in Nigeria, our people will not be as patriotic as they could be and because of the low morale in the civil service, corruption will thrive.

Corruption is not really the problem. It is the symptom. The problem is lack of unity caused by policies such as quota system which breeds the type of discontent that leads to corruption and other acts of economic sabotage. Any leader who is promoting quota system in today’s Nigeria should prove he believes in it by allowing a quota system doctor operate on him the next time he needs surgery. But no! They will never try that. They want the best doctors to treat them because they want to be healthy, yet they expect the products of quotas to staff vital national institutions and infrastructure and expect Nigeria to be healthy.
Before we had quota, Saudi Arabia’s royal family came to the University College Hospital, Ibadan for treatment in the 60s. After we implemented quota systems, our own leaders began to go to Saudi Arabia for treatment. The facts speak for themselves.

Albert Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You see, it does not matter who we have as president. It could be Dr. Goodluck Jonathan or it could be President Muhammadu Buhari. It could even be you reading this. But as long as the system does not change, the society will not change no matter who is president. If we want progress in our society, we must remove every social injustice and ensure a level playing field for all Nigerians. Look at our private sector. The reason private enterprise is doing so well is because of merit not quota.

It is an insult to call people educationally backward. I have 1,017 staff from all over Nigeria. They are all equally brilliant. No ethnic group is intellectually superior or inferior to another. That is my argument against quota system. Instead of quota system, what we should push for is a system of quota budgeting which simply means that all our states should by law implement the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommendation of allocating 26 per cent of their annual budget to education.

This will have a greater impact on improving education in Nigeria than the current quota system which does not force the so called ‘educationally backward’ states to take pragmatic steps to improve capacity and quality of education in their states. This is my solution to balancing the education sector without the injustice of having unequal playing fields.
My name is Ben Murray-Bruce and I just want to make Commonsense!