Recruitment scandal – The Nation

The scandal of alleged secret employment slots, rocking the Senate, shows how far Nigeria is drifting from equal opportunities for citizens. Indeed, that any agency of the Federal Government would snare the Senate with secret employment slots is bad enough. That the Senate “leadership” would allegedly corner the 100 slots, even if that offer couldn’t have gone round each of the 109 senators, is the very limit of skewed leadership.

Democracy is supposed to take the country near equal opportunities. But it appears it is pushing it towards structural nepotism. That is absolutely unacceptable and should be condemned by all.

The natural logical projection from all this, if true, is this: if a particular agency pushed 100 job slots to the Senate — a ploy in anticipatory silencing, perhaps? — how many might the top dogs, of that agency, have cornered for their own kith-and-kin, leaving the ordinary, law abiding and qualified Nigerian in the lurch?

That is how institutional corruption is erected to cover up individual corruption. Again, such execrable practices should have no place in a democracy, which settled credo ought to be justice, fairness and equity. That is why this particular scandal must be thoroughly investigated and those involved brought to book.

Danjuma La’ah, the Kaduna South senator and Chairman of the Senate committee that ensures federal employments conform to federal character, blew the lid open on the scandal. It promises to be testy times, as some senators are reportedly threatening a showdown with the “leadership” that has allegedly shown such greed and crass insensitivity.

“We have information that one of the leaders shared 26 slots to people in his senatorial district,” an unnamed senator reportedly roared. “Problems are really brewing in the Senate because the leadership has allegedly taken jobs meant for Nigerians. Does it mean you must know a senator in Nigeria before you get a job?” Good question!

But Senator La’ah himself takes a more universalist look, as he railed against what, in his opinion, were deliberate ploys to corrupt the Senate leadership to subvert his committee’s oversight duties, even if he still treats the claim with a pinch of salt.

“I don’t care who they have given the job slots to,” he thundered. “Is it the leadership that will give them the backing? The leadership knows I am capable of doing my job. That’s why they gave me that responsibility.”

He lashed out at agencies trying to corruptly bend the rules, and thus leaving the majority of Nigerians, which the state ought to protect, in the lurch.

“We are aware that some of the agencies are selling the employment slots at their disposal. They are commercialising employment, selling a single slot for as much as N1.5 million, when we have children who have graduated from tertiary institutions who could not get any job for many years,” he fumed.

These are very grave allegations, laced maybe with a tinge of hyperbole. It would appear trite that any person that could pay a N1.5 million bribe to obtain a government job probably does not need that job, even if he could want it for various reasons. Still, despite the hyperbole, a grievous pattern appears revealed: pimps getting rich over a common right, when merit and fair play ought to be the driving forces.

Such practices are as bad as the racket of applicants crushed to early death in a stampede at some stadia, under President Goodluck Jonathan.  Ironically, the interior minister, under whose tenure that tragedy unfolded, now nestles as one of the current “distinguished senators” in the 9th Senate. Then, the swindle took place in the open. Now, if these allegations are true, it is taking place under cover. Both must be condemned and rooted out.

Which is why Senator La’ah must walk his talk. He should sink his teeth into the probe as he has sworn. His committee must dragoon the agency or agencies concerned in the alleged secret job slots, until they expose the conniving senators or absolutely prove that the allegations are not true. Either way, both the agency and colluding senators would have been named and shamed (without prejudice to the follow-up penalties); or demonstrated their innocence and reclaimed their honour.

That is the path of honour and sanity to follow. You cannot escape the hare-brained impunity of the military era only to get ensnared in a so-called democracy that encases a caste of democratic aristocrats that snap up the land’s best opportunities because of illicit “connections”; and the wretched hoi polloi, hewers of stones and fetchers of wood, that always hold the short end of the stick.

That would not only be the very violent opposite of democracy but the very foundation of probable social explosion, not very far away.

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