By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—A professor of History and International Studies in the University of Benin, Prof. Eddy Erhagbe, has insisted that the Federal Character clause as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution should be applied conscientiously at the national level to ensure that no ethnic group feels alienated or marginalisation.
Prof. Erhagbe gave the charge at the Annual May Environmental Congress organised by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, in Benin City, Edo State.
He said: “Federal Character provision as entrenched in the federal constitution should be applied at the national level and this will ensure that no group feels alienated and marginalised. In addition, at other tiers of government, a deliberate effort should be made to be equitable in appointments and distribution of amenities.
“We strongly believe that the increase in the tempo of agitations for restructuring is largely due to the feeling of alienation and perceived marginalisation of certain sections of the country by way of appointments and distribution of facilities and resources in the country.
“It is also imperative that national integrative policies, such as the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, federal character clause, in terms of admission into Federal Unity Schools and universities should be consolidated and expanded, instead of the current retrogressive policy of reducing the “Catchment area” for federal institutions.
“While some have tended to criticize the issue of ‘quota’ in the body politic of Nigeria, the fact remains that the policy is akin to the US policy of ‘affirmative action’ which is targeted at addressing the imbalance among groups, especially those identified as marginalized in the society. It follows that for the sake of addressing the urgent need for ethnic harmony and integration in the country, this policy should be pursued.”