Muhammad Sanusi, the immediate past emir of Kano, has said incompetent leadership and nepotism are the major factors intensifying corruption in Nigeria.
Sanusi stated this at a webinar with the theme: ‘The sustainability of society”, which was organised by the Emmanuel Chapel on Friday.
According to the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, corruption will continue to be an endemic trait in Nigeria if merit and competence are not duly considered in choosing leaders in the country at all levels.
He stated that while the Federal Character principle stipulated in the 1999 constitution (as amended) must be respected, only capable individuals must be elected or appointed into public office.
The former emir warned that the country will not witness vast development if meritocracy is sacrificed for personal loyalty and friendship.
He said: “Morally and religiously speaking, corruption is a problem. But let us look at it from the angle of economics and we (would) begin to understand that it is not just the corruption itself but the type of corruption.
“Part of the problem we have is incompetence and that is why I keep saying we must pay attention to merit. We have a system called Federal Character and I believe we should have Nigerians from all over the country in public office, but all those Nigerians must be people that are competent. There must be a merit test; a competence test.
“For me, I think the root of corruption is when we begin to de-emphasise merit, competence and performance and so long as we don’t bring the best in this country to do the job and hold them to account, we won’t go anywhere.
“The worst form of corruption we have in this country is nepotism; when people get into positions by virtue of personal loyalty, friendship and who they know, rather than what they can actually deliver by virtue of their competence for that office. We need people who can deliver for this country, I mean the majority.”
Asked by one of the moderators on the three fundamental catalytic reforms needed to put the country in better stead within the next seven to ten years, Sanusi identified political reforms, especially the amendment of the Constitution to reduce the cost of governance, meritocracy and patience.
“The second thing, which is extremely important, is that we must respect merit and the third thing is we need patience and we, especially those of us not in government, should put in our contributions that would help the leaders manage those challenges,” he added.