In 1948, a commission appointed to study and advise the government on the recruitment and training of Nigerians for senior posts in the government service of Nigeria recommended, among other things that ‘no-non Nigerian should be recruited for any government post except where no suitable and qualified Nigerian is available.’
Meanwhile, this is how the northernization recruitment policy of 1951 read, ‘If a qualified northerner is available, he is given priority in recruitment; if no northerner is available, an expatriate may be recruited or a non-northerner on contract terms.’ In pursuance of this policy, the northern regional government proposed in 1955 to recruit 238 officers from the Sudan, a decision which many people in the south complained about.
Perhaps they would have muted their complain if they had this statistics: ‘In the early 1950s, in terms of professional skills attributable to Western Education, the Yorubas had 76 physicians, Ibos 49 and Hausa-Fulani 1. Virtually all the 150 indigenous lawyers were of southern extraction.’
And muted it some more if they read this piece published in Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo, the now rested but once influential northern newspaper, on February 18 1950: ‘It is the southerner who has power in the north. They have control of the railway stations; of the post offices; of government hospitals; of the canteens; the majority employed in the Kaduna Secretariat and in the Public Works Department are all southerners; in all departments of government it is the southerner who has power.’