Lopsided recruitment in DSS – Thisday

There is need to challenge the impunity in the state security services
Not a few Nigerians feel scandalised by a recent report of lopsided recruitment exercise in the Department of State Service (DSS). Given the impunity by the current administration that has consistently shown scant regard for our diversity, many believe the report that is yet to be denied. The distribution of opportunities has not only been abused in several sectors, it has increasingly become a tool of controversy, divisions and tensions across all strata of our national life. The DSS must speak up on the issue that impinges on our national unity.

The framers of the Nigeria’s constitution were mindful of the diversity of Nigeria as a federal entity. The Federal Character Commission (FCC) was established in 1996 essentially to implement and enforce the principle of fairness and equity in the distribution of public posts and socio-economic infrastructure among the various federating units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Unfortunately, the FCC itself has been rendered comatose by this administration with the appointments of its members done without regard to the principle the commission was supposed to be enforcing.

Going by media reports of the DSS recruitment, Katsina, the home state of the President alone has 51 cadets as against 44 cadets for the entire five states in the South-east. A breakdown of the newly commissioned cadet officers on geopolitical basis revealed that 165 are from the North-west, four times those picked from the South-south which has 42. The figures for the other zones are: North-east (100), North-central, (66) and South-west, (57). To make matters worse, an unsigned statement from the presidency claimed that these recruitments were made to ensure balancing in the DSS. We condemn such underhand attempt to justify impunity.

The first two functions of the Federal Character Act state that the commission is to work out an equitable formula, subject to the approval of the president, for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the civil and public service of the federation and of the state, the armed forces, the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies among others. Secondly, the act is to function to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government. These are the ideals that have been cynically subverted by the recruitments into several agencies. Given its national security role, the DSS should not succumb to such arbitrariness.

That this administration has shown in words and deeds its contempt for our diversity is no longer in doubt. From all major appointments in the military and security agencies, there is glaring nepotism. The dominance of a section of the country is overbearing. And this is one of the factors that have necessitated the renewed clamour for restructuring in the country. Even then, that the DSS Director General, Mogaji Bichi, reportedly recruited 71 cadets from Bichi local government in Kano State (from where he hails) is very provocative.

We must condemn flagrant disregard for provisions of the constitution that has elevated ethnicity, religion and geography as major routes to appointments and career advancement. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene by asking the DSS to respond to the issue and if true, cancel the exercise. And in case the president will not act, this is where the civil society should come in. There should be a legal challenge to the action of the DSS vis-a-vis the letters of the Federal Character Act. Nigeria is not a jungle. It is a country governed by laws.

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