THE recent recruitments into the State Security Service (SSS), otherwise known as the Department of State Services (DSS), in which Katsina State alone had more cadets than the entire South-South geopolitical zone, have drawn the ire of the Nigerian public.
Going by the revelations published in the media, of the total number of 479 recruits, 51 were from Katsina State alone, while 42 new cadets were recruited from the six South-South states. The distribution in the six South-South states is as follows: Rivers (7), Delta (8), Edo (6), Cross River (9), Bayelsa (7) and Akwa Ibom (5).
Lagos, arguably the state with the highest population in the country, had seven cadets while Kano had 25 cadets. It was closely followed by Kaduna with 24 cadets and Bauchi with 23 cadets. These figures are outrageous, especially given the fact that the current administration insists on being seen as one that is corrective of the prevalent past evils. A cursory look at the list gave a more favourable allocation to the North than the South generally. The recruitment slots run thus: 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), Nassarawa (11), Niger (11), Ogun (8), Ondo (9) Osun (10), Oyo (11) Plateau (9) Rivers (7), Sokoto (15) Taraba (16), Yobe (12), and Zamfara (20).
It is indeed distressing that a sensitive security agency like the SSS has neglected a crucial constitutional requirement, namely the Federal Character Principle, in its recent recruitment exercise even though this touches on the security of the country. Although, according to media reports, a source within the Presidency, in a swift reaction, defended the recruitment, saying that the allotment of 51 cadets to Katsina State was to correct a previous injustice done to the state, such sophistry only does greater damage to the reputation and image of the government and the agency, seeing that the head of the agency is an indigene of Katsina State.
It is indeed unfortunate that rather than mitigating the vitriol attracted by the agency, all that the Presidency could offer was a gratuitous insult to those aggrieved by the obvious lopsidedness in the recruitment exercise. If indeed there was a previous injustice done to Katsina State, must such an injustice be corrected in one fell swoop?
The fact that the SSS is headed by an indigene of Katsina State should have been a restraining factor in seeking a correction of the alleged previous injustice for the sake of decency and fairness. The action of the SSS betrays the administration’s inclination towards impunity and betrays disdain and contempt for the feelings of the people that it was elected to serve. Sadly, there is ample precedence for the current action of the SSS. Similar abuses of the Federal Character Principle were pointed out in the appointments of ministers and heads of different agencies of government. The special recruitment of hundreds of Civilian JTF members from Borno State into the Nigerian Army followed the same pattern of provocation. This is certainly a cause for worry, particularly in a democratic dispensation.
The lopsided recruitments into the SSS have done grave damage to the image and reputation of an administration that claims to be sincere in its fight against corruption. Nothing is more reflective of corruption than the underlying nepotism which these recruitments represent. Given the fact that the current administration has since its inception about two years ago been serially pelted on account of its provincial proclivities, it behoves its arrowheads in various agencies to live these allegations and criticisms down by demonstrating fairness and merit in their operations. Sadly, however, they have failed to do so.
Filling federal vacancies without regard for the Federal Character Principle is a grievous anomaly. The patently fatuous excuse of wanting to correct a previous injustice provides no exculpation for this gross insensitivity and lack of circumspection. We call on the Federal Government to correct this anomaly immediately.