Romanus Ugwu and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Immediate past National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has called for merit as a requirement in making government appointments in Nigeria.
The former party chair added that the war against corruption should not just be left to President Muhammadu Buhari at the federal level, but should be fought through the state down to the local government level.
Oyegun spoke in Abuja at a dinner organised in his honour for his 80th birthday.
The event was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole and some APC governors, among other distinguished guests.
Oyegun said that excellence should be rewarded in all strata of endeavour, be it through national awards or a simple invitation by the Presidency as a sign of recognition.
He expressed hope that the ‘Next Level’ policy platform the Buhari administration, coupled with the new roster of federal ministers, would set a new foundation for the country going forward.
Oyegun further said it was high time that the potentialities of the country are converted into reality.
He said Nigeria was blessed with greatness, stating that what is needed is political commitment, political will and political courage to make the necessary changes to get the country moving to the desired destination.
“I want to emphasize merit. Up till now, we have practised the doctrine of balancing and the rest of it, which is very good at the time it was put in place. Fortunately, today, I doubt that there is any corner of this country where there aren’t highly qualified Nigerians. And the time has come for merit to become the sole determinant of positioning and placing people,” Oyegun said.
Oyegun also called for a carrot-and-stick approach to governance, saying that while the government should punished those who err, it must also at every turn reward exceptional service to the country.
“People must see either through your national awards, I don’t think that has taken place for quite a while now, or other inducements or just a simple invitation to the presidency or whatever for those who have truly distinguished themselves. The nation is watching. We are punishing the bad ones, but please, try also to reward those who have served this nation faithfully,” Oyegun admonished.
In his remarks, Osinbajo said Oyegun is always found on the right side of history.
“As a founding member of the AD, member of NADECO, and later, a secretary of those abroad, founding member of the APC and the first chairman and one who led our party to that historic victory to unseat the ruling party,” Osinbajo said.
Osinbajo said that accomplished individuals like Oyegun have proven that politicians can be loyal, faithful, distinguished men and women.
He added that, despite what people say, politicians were often more loyal than most other people or most other groups of people.