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A former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Muhammadu Sanusi, said the appointment of unqualified persons into public office has been the root cause of corruption in the country.

Mr Sanusi stated this on Friday at a webinar event organised by the Emmanuel Chapel, the Punch newspaper reported.

Mr Sanusi, who was in March deposed as Emir of Kano, said giving employment to people by virtue of personal loyalty, friendship and who they know, rather than competence would lead Nigeria nowhere.

Critics have accused President Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism, especially in his appointment of government officials and heads of security agencies, saying he does not observe the Federal Character principle for parity among other ethnic groups in the appointments.

The federal character principle was inserted in the Nigeria Constitution in 1979, to ensure that appointments to public service institutions fairly reflect the linguistic, ethnic, religious, and geographic diversity of the country.

Mr Sanusi 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.”

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