It is cheery news that Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has cancelled the issuance of indigenisation certificates in his state, as well as the inclusion of indigenes’ requirement in government official forms. This implies that any Nigerian, who resides in Kaduna State, irrespective of ethnic or religious differences, will henceforth have equal rights in Kaduna State as indigenes. This is unequivocally a patriotic and selfless action, and it is historic in many respects. It is the first time a state governor would take a concrete revolutionary step toward ending the age-long discriminatory tendencies in government operations in Nigeria. Indigenisation policy breeds segregation but unfortunately, state governments have over the years, paid a mere lip service to stamping it out from our body politic. The policy has eroded our revered culture of unity and togetherness, and brought in its wake divisions among the divergent sections of the Nigerian society.
That is why jobs are offered on contractual terms to non-indigenes in many states and discriminatory fees are paid in state schools. Non-indigenes usually pay more, especially in some state-owned tertiary institutions. Even in the civil service, there are certain levels, which non-indigenes cannot reach, while securing government patronage in some undertakings is always illusionary for settlers. These are some of the retrogressive government processes, which El-Rufai’s action promises to stamp out. The governor blazed the trail so that other states of the Federation could follow suit to ensure peaceful co-existence and tolerance among Nigerians from different ethnic backgrounds.
Kaduna State, as El-Rufai reiterates, has more than 50 ethnic groups with multi-religious dimensions and yet, they must live together peacefully. His altruistic gesture clearly demonstrates the nation’s gradual march to progress, as no nation can truly develop without accommodating guests and strangers as partners in progress. That is why we agree with the governor absolutely on the point that the traditional practice of segregating against non-indigenes is inimical to the socio-economic and political development of the country. Also, no one can rebut his assertion that all Nigerians have an inalienable right to freedom of movement and religion and therefore no governor should deprive them of it in an attempt to protect his own.
This is an issue entrenched in Section 15 (1- 4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. The Section states that the motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be unity and faith, peace and progress and accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, while discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited. For the purpose of promoting national integration, the Constitution is unambiguous in stating that the state shall secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the federation and foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various peoples of the Federation. This is with a view to engendering national loyalty and discarding sectional allegiance.
Indigenisation policy runs in all the states of the Federation but surprisingly, it is a creation of the selfish so-called leaders who want everything for themselves at the expense of others. The process is averse to the tenets of the Constitution, which emphasises equal rights. It is amazing how terribly the policy has been allowed to polarize the Nigerian people and retard national progress. It is apt that other state governors should emulate El-Rufai’s example. Nigeria has trodden on the path of division for too long and this has stifled proper integration. It is high time it adopted the worthy lane of oneness in order to make meaningful progress.