Senators Bicker over Army Recruitment


Deji Elumoye

Senators were at daggers drawn yesterday overalleged lopsidedness in recent recruitments carried out by the Nigerian Army. This played out at an interactive session the Senate Committee on Army had with the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command of the Nigerian Army, Major General S.O Olabanji.

A member of the Committee, who doubles as Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, Senator Abdullahi Ibrahim Danbaba, had during the session, asked Major General Olabanji about the alleged lopsided nature of recent recruitment carried out by the Army.

But the acting Chairman of the Committee, Senator Abba Moro, who presided over the session , ruled Danbaba out of order saying “this meeting is not for such enquiry.”

Another member of the Committee, Senator Barinada Mpigi, again raised the issue , saying “ lopsidedness in recruitment is not an issue to be put aside or ruled against.”

But Senator Moro again ruled against the enquiry, insisting that the session was not for review of recruitment made by the Army but on tactical Training and Doctrine of officers and men.

He said: “The questions being raised by my colleagues on alleged lopsided recruitments are being thrown to the wrong person. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt – Gen Farouk Yahaya, is the one who can do justice to such allegation or enquiry.”

Piqued by the insistence of Senator Moro that questions on recruitment should not be entertained at the Session, Senators Danbaba and Mpigi stormed out of the meeting in protest

Speaking to newsmen on what transpired at the session, Senator Danbaba said he walked out from the meeting with Senator Mpigi due to high handedness of Senator Moro.

He said: “Moro shouldn’t have ruled us out of order since the military man the question was directed to, did not complain. The issue of marginalisation in recruitment has never been responded to, it is part of the oversight process of the committee to ensure that whatever is to be done should be done to ensure Justice, the Nigerian army like any institution of government in Nigeria is supposed to comply with provisions of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and that constitution has made it very clear that the issue of federal character and representation is paramount is a constitutional issue .

“I am not blaming the Army, the Army has been performing very well, but at the same time the issue of recruitment is very important. I left the meeting, I stormed out with Mpigi because we were angry.”

Also, speaking with newsmen after the session, Senator Moro, defended his action saying he had no regret for ruling Danbaba out of order as far as the issue of alleged lopsided recruitment was concerned.

He said: “Danbaba and Mpigi’s questions were directed to a wrong person . What explanation were they expecting from Commander, Training and Doctrine Command on recruitment

“Besides, the Committee had tabled the issue before the Chief of Army Staff few months ago with response bordering on physical and medical reasons for those recruited and those who failed in the exercise.”

There are, however, indications that the leadership of the Senate may wade into the issue as Senator Danbaba was seen taking the matter to the Leader of the Senate, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi.