The Impunity of DSS’s Lopsided Recruitment

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Ring True

with Yemi Adebowale 

The passing-out parade of 479 cadet officers of the Department of State Security (DSS) in Lagos on March 5 witnessed muffle protest by many who were saddened by the fact that the recruitment showed no regard for the nation’s Federal Character law as ingrained in our Constitution. The lopsidedness in the composition of the new officers absorbed into the agency on this day was startling. For the avoidance of doubt, Section 14, subsection 3 of the 1999 Constitution states: “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 sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies.”
But the Lawal Daura-led DSS disregarded this aspect of our constitution and skewed the recruitment in favour of some states. The difference in the number of slots allocated to each of the 36 states and Abuja is disturbing. Reports have it that 51 newly commissioned cadet officers emerged from Katsina State, while Akwa Ibom and Lagos have only 5 and 7 respectively. The aberration goes beyond the case of Katsina State. A further geo-political breakdown showed that North-west has 165 cadet officers, North-east 100, North-central 66, South-west 57, South-south 42 and South-east got 44. See the table below for details.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria was apropos in calling for the nullification of this unconstitutional recruitment. HURIWA remarked: “This is a heartless violation of the constitutional principles of federal character and natural justice by officials of the DSS. This longstanding rape of the Nigerian Constitution would inevitably have significant negative impacts on the unity of this very highly fragile and fragmented nation-state known as Nigeria.
“Those who have constituted themselves as political demi-gods and are waging vicious campaign of total capture and occupation of all vital security institutions and other juicy economic positions must know that power is ephemeral and that they can’t subject and subjugate forever without the resistance of the rest of the Nigerian population to this enslavement and forceful occupation of national offices and key positions that by constitutional right belongs to each and every Nigerian citizen irrespective of ethno religious beliefs and orientations.”
I don’t know how Daura intends to justify this recruitment scandal. It is even more depressing that the DSS boss has so far refused to offer any explanation for this disrespect for our constitution since the indignity went viral on March 5. The Federal Character Commission has equally been silent on this aberration. I thought that by now, its acting chairman, Shettima Bukar-Abba would have taken appropriate action. The FCC has clearly failed in its responsibility of ensuring compliance with the federal character law in recruitment into federal ministries, departments and agencies.
This morning, I am calling on the Presidency to call Daura to order and redress this unevenness. The constitution is supreme. Those who have sworn to protect it must be seen to be doing so. The National Assembly should also dig in and conduct a forensic hearing on this violation of the Federal Character law with a view to ensuring equity, fairness and constitutionalism.
States/No. of Cadets
Abia 7, Adamawa 9, Akwa Ibom 5, Anambra 10, Bauchi 23, Bayelsa 7, Benue 9, Borno 16, Cross River 9, Delta 8, Ebonyi 7, Edo 6, Ekiti 12, Enugu 9, FCT 7, Gombe 14, Imo 11, Jigawa 14, Kaduna 24, Kano 25, Katsina 51,  Kebbi 16, Kogi 11, Kwara 13, Lagos 7, Nasarawa 11, Niger 11, Ogun 8, Ondo 9, Osun 10, Oyo 11, Plateau 9, Rivers 7, Sokoto 15, Taraba 16, Yobe 12, Zamfara 20.
Craze for Foreign Public Relations Firms
For most of this week, I waited for the Federal Ministry of Finance to react to the allegation that it hired a British public relations firm called Africa Practice to manage the campaign of Nigeria’s participation at the just concluded World Bank Spring Meeting in Washington DC, United States. A disavowal did not come. I guess the story is true. Indeed, the Federal Ministry of Finance recruited a foreign public relations firm. I am surprised that this is happening in an era of “Change.” The Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria, who blew the whistle, cautioned the government to respect its own “Buy Nigeria, Save the Naira” campaign. These consultants want Buhari to make Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, who led the Nigerian delegation to the Washington DC meeting to explain whether the process of choosing the UK firm complied with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, regarding competitive bid from other equally qualified Public Relations Consulting firms.
“It will also be of interest to the Nigerian people to know if the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance signed off on the payment of the allegedly retainer fee to the PR firm in question,” PRCAN said. It expressed concern that the minister’s action buttressed the insatiable appetite and penchant of Nigerian political office holders for “foreign is better,” and might indeed have confirmed the feeling held in professional circles that Nigerian leaders have no regard for indigenous professionals.
It has also emerged that Adeosun’s Trade and Investment counterpart, Okechuknwu Enelamah had previously engaged the services of the same UK-based PR firm for an undisclosed amount of money to manage the “Ease of Doing Business” campaign of the federal government without any competitive bid involving Nigerian PR firms.
Haba! How can all these be happening when this administration has been telling us to look inward and conserve forex? Here, millions of scarce USD is being paid to foreign firms at a time Nigeria is struggling with forex. Something is clearly wrong somewhere. Many indigenous public relations firms have the competence and global reach to handle these briefs. I can vouch for this. Their track record speaks volumes. The Presidency must put a stop to this wastage and ensure that it does not happen again. Adeosun and Enelamah must be called to order. These ministers must key into the “buy Nigeria” campaign. “Change” must begin with those in government.
Seriake Dickson, Please Pay These Teachers
Primary school teachers in Bayelsa State are seething. They have not been paid for 10 months. The Bayelsa State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers had embarked on a strike for six weeks at the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic session in September 2016 over these same unpaid salaries. Governor Seriake Dickson should take urgent steps to pay these hapless teachers. This governor should stop hiding under the sham excuse that the salaries of primary school teachers are the responsibility of local governments. We all know that state governors hold the keys to the vaults of local governments. They are sole signatories to the joint accounts with the local governments. Governors sit on the bulk of this money and send chickenfeed to the local governments. So, how will they be able to pay teachers?  Dickson has to sort out this mess. The suffering and humiliation of Bayelsa primary school teachers must be brought to an end. For me, state governments should take over the funding and management of primary education without attaching conditions to it. This is the only way forward for primary education in our dear nation.
Let’s Rise Up and Save Little Janet
For those who have not been following the story, little Janet Gambo was early in March abducted and forcefully married by one Nasiru Yusuf of Shudna village in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State. Yusuf was entrusted to train her as a tailor. A Sharia Court conspired with Yusuf to carry out the illegal wedding with this minor. The court simply told Janet’s father, Habila Gambo that the minor had converted and embraced Islam and her name had been changed to Zainab and that she had been married to Yusuf. Gambo, who is a farmer in the same community, has been fighting for the return of her little girl in the last two months. A petition he wrote to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, through a human rights lawyer, Daniel Omakor, is yet to yield result. An earlier petition to the Minna Area Police Command did not produce result.
This is a clear case of criminal breach of trust, abduction and forceful marriage of a minor. I urge the IGP to order a thorough investigation of the matter and immediately arrest Yusuf along with the Sharia court judge. I sincerely hope that our human rights activists will join the crusade to free Janet. Child rights activists should stand up and be counted in this struggle. Where is the wife of the Niger State governor? Little Janet must be set free