By: Rahaman Onike
Initially, I thought it was a mere rumour the alleged lopsidedness in the recent recruitment by the State Security Service (SSS), until when Premium Times did an exclusive story on it.
The reaction of the Presidency that followed the story of the shocking lopsidedness further prompted this piece.
If the Presidency’s remarks are taken at face value, it sounds plausible that the SSS deliberately employed fewer southerners to correct the previous anomaly against the northern parts of the country in the preceding SSS recruitment. Until the presidency gave the hint, the north had never come out to fault or challenge the previously held recruitment exercise as not being in favour of the northerners. Even with the alibi from the Presidency, there are still unanswered questions sequel to the scandalous recruitment exercise.
The anomaly in the exercise is further exposed by the disparity between intakes from the most populous states in Nigeria, Kano and Lagos which have 25 and 7 respectively. What this implies is that the size of the pool of applicants from each state was not a factor in the recently held recruitment exercise.
One thing about the distribution of the recruits is that Katsina which coincidentally the home state of President Muhammed Buhari and the Director General of the State Security Service, Lawal Musa Daura was alloted 51 out of 479 officers recruited. By comparison, Katsina allotment is 7 greater than 44 which was the number of recruits from the whole of South-East geo-political zone.
Whether the upsurge in the slot allotted to Katsina was deliberately done or by happenstance, the truth is that it has made the exercise prone to criticism.
A lot of people merely read ethnic chauvinism to the imbalances in the exercise giving the parentage of the Director General of the SSS. If truly there had been any form of infractions in the previous recruitment by the State Security Service, the inconsistencies or imbalances ought to have been raised and investigated long ago.
It seems the previous recruitment have not been based on merit rather by a spoils system.
I feel strongly that the disproportionate allocation of 331 of the newly Commissioned officers to the Northern States and FCT which is more than half of the total intakes from the Southern parts of the country is a further proof of dysfunctional and defects in the operation of Nigeria Federal system. Except we know the nominal and payrolls of the SSS personnel before the recent recruitment exercise, the figure from various geo-political zones, such as North-East – 100, North-Central – 66, South-West – 57 and South-East – 44 will ignite further questions.
While the issue rages, I am obliged to examine the effects of possible negligence on the part of the Federal Character Commission which is statutorily empowered to ensure fairness, equity and justice in power distribution and allocation of resources in the country.
Obviously, it is either the Federal Character Commission is incompetent, ill-prepared and probably had compromised it’s integrity in ensuring even distribution of national resources and maintaining a sort of balancing in the recruitment process.
Where it could be proved that one region is taking too much of available opportunities, the onus lies on the Commission to prevent the domination using the instrumentality of law. The philosophical mute of Shetima Bukar, the Acting Chairman of Federal Character Commission since the allegation of lopsidedness in SSS recruitment goes viral on both new and social media has made people to be casting aspersion on his professional competence and moral integrity. He will continue to bear the moral burden until he comes out to prove that he was not erred in his statutory responsibility of ensuring compliance with the federal character principles in the recent lopsided recruitment by the SSS.
Incontrovertibly, what will be the verdict of history on the tenure and recruitment of personnel under Lawal Daura’s headed State Security Service will therefore depend on the public perception of his policy decisions, enforcement procedures and implementation strategies vis-a-vis the recruitment exercise of the Agency.Given the Public criticism of his recent recruitment exercise, he needs to come out with facts and figures of the previous anomalies which his lopsided recruitment was aimed at correcting as claimed by the Presidency.
Except he succeeds in proving his sincerity and fairness in the way the recent SSS recruitment was handled, it will be difficult for him to convince the public that he was not implementing ethnic agenda giving the number of recruits from Katsina State which is his descent. More importantly, the Buhari’s administration needs to probe the allegation of lopsided SSS recruitment, to be sure the letter and spirit of Section 14 Subsection 3 of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria has not been violated. For the avoidance of doubts, it provides that “The composition of the Government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such manner to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote National unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies”.
In conclusion, the present administration will do its image good, if the recruitment in contention is proved not to be truly a manifestation of ethnic chauvinism and as a delibrate ploy to make the north to remain dominant over the Southern States.
Without providing proper justification for the lopsidedness of the SSS recruitment exercise, this part of the administration’s record will be dotted as a blemish when it’s history is being written.
Rahaman Onike writes from Oyo. He is public administrator, policy analyst and author.