Monday, May 15, 2017 21:12GMT.
The Recent DSS Lobsided Recruitment Proves That The Government of Buhari Is Fantastically Corrupt

The leadership of the Department of State Services has triggered a fresh round of inter-ethnic tension by its recent recruitment of cadets to the agency. While some states in the South had the minimum number of slots, others in the North were rewarded with a high number of recruits. In an atmosphere of deep-rooted distrust, it is tactless to brazenly favour the North with such lopsided intakes. This is coming from a government that says it's main aim it to fight against corruption. But Nepotism is a very high form of corruption.

In all, the DSS commissioned 479 new officers, out of which 331 were from the 19 states of the North and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Katsina, the home state of President Buhari and of Lawal Daura, the DSS Director-General, had 51 officers, but Akwa Ibom, had only five. Lagos State, with the largest population in the country, was given seven slots. Kano, which comes second in population, had 25; its sister state, Jigawa, had 14. Kaduna had 24 intakes, Bauchi 23 and Zamfara 20. In contrast, Abia, Rivers, Bayelsa, Ebonyi and the FCT had seven slots each, Edo had six, Ogun and Delta had eight each and Cross River had nine.

The regional spread is similarly tainted. The North-West had 165 new DSS officers or four times that of the South-South, with 42. The North-East got 100 slots, as against 66 for North-Central, 57 for South-West and 44 for South-East. This is not equitable. It is a skewed way of conducting public recruitment in a federal polity.

Indeed, the recruitment is a gross violation of the federal character principle, as enshrined in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, which states partly, "... 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."

Also, the guidelines of the Federal Character Commission partly indicate that, "... a shortlist of qualified candidates shall be compiled for interview or any other mode of selection on state by state basis: drawing as much as possible, in equal number, from each state of the federation and approximately, a third of that number from the FCT, indicating also, the Local Government Area of origin (where an aptitude test or any other type of written or oral test is required as part of the selection process, the compilation of results shall be on state by state basis, in order to enable the best candidates from each state and the FCT to be employed)."

One of the rules again says that the best and most competent candidates from each state of the federation and the FCT should be shortlisted to compete for positions reserved for their respective states/zones. This is a good idea on all levels.

We recognise the diverse nature of Nigeria's society. We especially believe in the diversity of our public service as it may help to achieve political and social objectives, such as social mobility, equity and quality in service delivery. It is argued that diversity is not only the mixture of backgrounds and competences, but also valuing and using people's competences, experiences, and perspectives to improve government efficiency and effectiveness, and to meet public servants' professional expectations. The FCC had warned that ministries, departments and agencies that disregard the federal character principle would be taken to court.

Globally, there is a growing consensus that pursuing diversity may help to preserve core public service values, such as fairness, transparency, impartiality and representativeness. The argument that the DSS wants to redress the staff imbalance against Katsina State is hollow and one swallow does not make a summer. Last year, the Police Service Commission was enmeshed in a similar controversy after it agreed with the parliament to recruit 10,000 police officers on the basis of LGAs instead of using the state parameter.

The North has dominated the military since independence at the expense of the South. The only attempt made to redress the imbalance was the new template that the authorities created to recruit intakes on the basis of equality of states; certainly, no effort made to alter the status quo ante. Against this backdrop, Daura's defence in the DSS recruitments does not hold water.

Nigeria cannot be practising sectionalism and expect that it will develop. Other federal entities are making giant strides by institutionalising competitive federalism and egalitarianism. Our failure is perhaps linked to the elite's devotion to the promotion of sectional interests.

The deafening silence of the lawmakers in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly, as well as state governors of the areas being marginalised in the recruitment saga, is baffling. Being a lawmaker is primarily to fight for the common good of the people you represent. It is the duty of these lawmakers and governors to speak up and agitate on behalf of their constituencies for fair representation in the DSS and other federal MDAs. The FCC should wake up and do its job. We are alarmed at the silence of the commission, which, in the immediate past, complained when such anomalies occurred. It should vet the recruitment template and order an immediate review in the interest of justice.

The government of Buhari which oversaw the process needs to stop deceiving itself by hypocritically portraying itself as fighting against corruption.



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