Published On: Sun, May 20th, 2018

POLICE SCANDAL: Recruitments open a can of ethnic worms

By OBINNA EZUGWU

Last week in an interview with Voice of America, Hausa service, President Muhammadu Buhari said he had approved the recruitment of 6,000 additional policemen as part of measures to address the country’s security challenges including the farmers/herdsmen clashes across the country. And according to him, the recruitment is to be done on the basis of local governments as opposed to state which had always formed the structure for quota and federal character principle.

President Buhari

“I have approved the recruitment of 6,000 policemen by the police authorities and I directed that those recruited must come from all the 776 local government areas of the federation,” the president said.

“Even if it means recruiting one person each from the 774 they should do that instead of going to motor parks, railway stations or market for the recruitment exercise.”

The recruitment has been welcomed by many as s good development. Apart from the idea of helping to boost the capacity of the country’s security apparatus in this challenging times, it would also importantly, be an addition of 6,000 jobs in a country reeling from severe unemployment.

However, the idea of adopting local governments as basis for the recruitment, and perhaps now an attempt to replace the use of states with local governments as basis for quota or federal character, may be an attempt to give undue advantage to the North of the country to disadvantage of other zones, especially the South East.

This anomaly had reared its head first in 2016 when the Police Service Commission (PSC) began recruitment of 10,000 personnel as directed by the President earlier in 2015. At some point during the exercise, it was suspended because the Senate Committee on Police Affairs headed by Senator Abu Ibrahim (Kastina South) as well as the Nigerian Police Force, insisted that the recruitment should be done on the basis of equal per local government as opposed to equal per state which the PSC had adopted in line with the principle of Federal Character.

The disagreement led to the suspension of the exercise for over four weeks on the order of the Senate. As expected it was resolved in favour of local governments.

Senator Ibrahim who had announced the resolution added that in the next three years, 30 personnel would be recruited per local government for the community policing programme.

“We have resolved the issue and the recruitment would be done on local government basis. Very soon the exercise will resume,” he had said.

“Nine personnel would be recruited per local government area. The policemen would be used to form a unit for community policing in all the 774 local government areas of the country.”

The recruitment was eventually resumed and concluded, and on account of a superior number of local governments, the North West and South West took a lion share of the new recruits.

Of Nigeria’s 774 local governments in the country, 417 are in the North, while the south has 357 With 19 states of the 36 and the federal capital territory in the North as opposed to 17 in the South, one may admit that even when state is used, the North West particularly which has seven states, still enjoys an undue advantage, but it’s minimal compared to the advantage the use of local governments gives to it.

Of the 10,000 personnel recruited in 2016 for instance, the South East with a total of 95 local governments got 1,227 slots; South West with 137 local governments got 1770 and South-South with 125 local governments had 1615, bringing the total number of recruits from the South to 4612.

On the other hand, the North East with 113 local governments had 1460; North West with 186 LGAs got 2403; the North Central with 112 local governments had 1447, and the FCT with six local governments got 78 slots, thus bringing the total number to a little more than 5388.

However, had the recruitment been done rightly based on states, the South East with five states would get 1351, South West and South South with six states each would get 1622 each, as the North East and North Central.

Among the six zones, the South East with the much fewer number of states and local governments gets the least of slots. Ironically, this is the zone with perhaps the highest number of qualified but unemployed graduates.

While South East states have some of the highest numbers of enrolments in Jamb, WAEC and other national exams, and often have the highest cut off marks in the country’s Unity school, when it comes to employment opportunities, they are given the least slots.

In 2016 when this recruitment was done, the South East with five states had a total of 335,883 candidates: Abia 51,619; Anambra         77,694; Ebonyi 32,806; Enugu 69,381; Imo    104,383, which despite the zone still having a very significant percentage of its population residing in other zones, was still the highest in the country.

The South East was followed by South West with six states and a total of 320,691 candidates: Ekiti34,39; Lagos 24,160; Ogun   62,973; Ondo 54,110; Osun    72,752; Oyo    72,298.

Third in the same order is South South with 299,632 candidates. Akwa Ibom 62,369; Bayelsa 21,208; Cross River 29,763; Delta   78,854; Edo     66,107 and Rivers       41,331.

North Central is fourth with 259,846 candidates in total: Benue          60,160; Kogi    57,694; Kwara 54,606; Nasarawa            18,231; Niger   18,231; Plateau            34,469 and Abuja        4,087.

Northwest with seven states is fifth with 163,240 candidates in total: Jigawa 12,664; Kaduna54,227; Kano 48,579; Katsina            23,522; Kebbi  8,947; Sokoto 10,006 and Zamfara     5,295.

North East with its security challenges brings up the rear with 96,220 candidates: Adamawa15,615; Bauchi 19,462; Borno  15,697; Gombe 19,729; Taraba           15,672; Yobe   10,045.

It is clear from the foregoing that Nigeria operates a system that punishes excellence. The states with highest enrolment figures in education get the least recruitment figures, while those with least education enrolment figures lead the employment numbers.

Again, in the country’s Unity school, the average cut off mark for the South East is 131, still highest of the six zones, with South West 127, South-South 111, North Central 100, North West 47 for males and 49 for females, North East 34 for males and 40 for females.

With the upcoming recruitment of 6000 personnel, if based on local governments as the president indicated, the South East leading the relevant school enrolment figures above, will fare badly with 736 intakes which is the least. North West, as always, would lead with 1442, South West following in 1062, South-South 969, North Central 868 and FCT 47.

The usual justification for these sort of policies and indeed one of the supposed considerations for delineation of local governments is often population figures, apart from Nigeria’s available population data being flawed and cannot be used for any objective analysis, it is common knowledge that local governments were arbitrarily created by the military and usually states with more army generals have more local governments.

Only this can explain the scenario where Kano with a population at par with Lagos, has 44 local governments compared to 20 the latter has.

Yet, Nigeria is a country of many oddities and contractions. While during census exercise, ethnicity, religion, and state of origin do not feature as every resident in a particular state; both indigenes and non indigenes are counted and added up to the population figures of such state, when, however, the state gets slots for jobs or appointments based on its population figure, the non indigenous people who form part of the population figure are denied such benefits because, by that time, ethnicity and state of origin would matter above all else.

While for instance, a state like Kano boasts of a reasonable number of non indigenous population which, in no small measure, enhances its’ rating, as the 2006 census figures showed, as the most populous in the country, the lion share of the recruitment figure that will accrue to it, as a result, will not benefit these non indigenous people, particularly those from the Southern part of the country.

A similar scenario plays out in Lagos with its massive non-indigenous population.

Indeed, even more visible. Lagos is a state with a huge chunk of a non-indigenous population but are often shut out in the affairs of governance.

BHallmark made series of efforts to ascertain from the presidency why the administration felt it necessary to change the modality for recruitment in the police force from equality per state to local governments, but to no avail. Calls to the Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina went unanswered while he failed to respond to text messages.

Again, efforts made to ascertain the position of the Nigerian Police Force did not yield results as the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood did not respond to our calls, and has not replied to the text message sent to him at press time.

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