Meritocracy was further undermined in 1979 by the introduction of the Federal Character Principle, which sets a quota for the number of public servants to be appointed from each state. It applies both to recruitment into the public service and to appointments to the top echelons of the service, such as permanent secretaries, directors generals, and heads of extra-ministerial departments and agencies………Although the underlying principle is sound in a diverse country such as Nigeria, its application is said by civil servants themselves to be grossly abused, with merit often sacrificed to mediocrity as patently less qualified people get appointed to posts in the name of fulfilling the principle.”

Reforming the Unrefornable – Lessons from Nigeria by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala page 5.