The greatest way to stunt and regress development is having incompetent people at the helm of affairs. It is akin to putting a sailor who hasn’t the slightest idea of how to read a compass or comprehend nautical charts, in charge of an ocean liner in the open ocean and expect him to get to the expected destination at the projected time. The chances of a mishap has a higher probability than the possibility of success.

The same goes for any organized unit with set goals and objectives. Sacrificing competence for any other consideration is the antithesis of progress and this no less so in today’s world that is developing at breakneck speed. The threat of becoming stunted, irrelevant and obsolete as well as the hunger for success has pushed organizations world over to evolve, innovate and excel. This in turn has provided a wider range of user-friendly options with the capacity to satisfy varying consumer needs and wants.

This developmental model is one Nigeria sorely needs. The soon-to-be 55 year old nation has faltered in this regard since her independence and have further cemented this by imprinting dubious terms like “federal character” and “zoning” into her consciousness. Being a colonial offspring of the old British Empire who without consultation lumped various culturally different ethnic groups together for administrative convenience, her subsequent ethnic diversity has proved to be a curse in the disguise of a blessing.

This, first of all, is a result of the absence of evidence of a consensus that the diverse ethnic groups agreed to come under one umbrella and to be referred to by one name as is the case with the American Declaration of Independence. This possibly is the major reason that genuine patriotism has constantly remained just a little beyond grasp and sectional interests (tribalism) has taken precedence over national interests (patriotism). The outcome has resulted in the unfortunate relegation of competence and meritocracy which has adversely affected general political considerations and leadership skills which has eaten deep into the fabric of a badly structured national consciousness.

The current administration under President Buhari promised change to all Nigerians and with close to 100 days into his administration, the objective mind cannot help but see that the theme of change is more than a mere mantra but a genuine attempt to redefine leadership and revamp the political terrain for a nation in dire straits as a result of corruption and its associated ills. This could be seen in the lean stature of his administration that aims to cut down the over-bloated cost of governance, an attempt to revive competence with strategic appointments, frontal assault on corruption and insurgency amongst others.

Of peculiar concern to many is the fact that Mr. President’s appointments seems to tilt towards persons of his regional extraction. For a nation as diverse as ours, it is not particularly paranoid to wonder about this but when you consider the rock-solid credentials and proven expertise of the presidential appointees in relation to their deployed offices as against the old order where presidential appointments were no more than gifts to party faithfuls, political sponsors and personal friends of the person of the president.

What may strikes as odd however, is the questioning pattern of the current presidential appointments. In an ideal environment that places a high premium on competence and merit, the appointment pattern would challenge and inspire other ethnic groups to strive for academic and professional excellence in order to form the choicest part of the appointment pool rather than bemoan marginalization. If the pattern is sustained, there no telling how fast development will take place.

That the president has chosen to mainly work with persons of Northern extraction is not bad or unlawful yet considering the there are still quite a lot appointments yet to be made. So long as the essential requirement of competence has not been compromised yet, it would be premature to worry just now. This should send a strong message that for the first time in long while, Nigerians are about to see a rare assemblage of competent technocrats manning sensitive positions critical to Nigeria’s development.

For almost 55 odd years, successive governments have tried or failed to try to improve on the life of the average Nigerian citizen and has met minimal success where it did not fail woefully. In truth, failures of the past is not attributable to failure in governance alone but also the attitude of the governed which is a result of years of abuse. Granted, 16 years of uninterrupted democracy has shown great potential for progress but we have come to a point in our national history where potential must translate to reality.

As the wise saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. The campaign for Change would be meaningless with a reversal to the old ways of doing things. As there has been no serious challenge through the proper channel to the unity of Nigeria since the civil war, it is appropriate to at this point to revive our national consciousness in favour of wholesome development. It is time all ethnic groups that make up the entity called Nigeria embrace and accept one another, if not as brothers by ethnicity, then as brothers by mutual experience. We must learn to accept and appreciate the mantle of competence for what it is regardless of the holder.