There is currently outrage in some parts of the country – This is due to the lopsided recruitment into the Department of State Service (DSS) – Many say it is a continuing effort by the present administration to stamp a northern character on all strands of the federal bureaucracy A report by Vanguard has detailed how the recent lopsided recruitment into the DSS has generated outrage across the country. Senator Ekweremadu, the highest ranking Igbo political office holder said the reality on ground for the people of the South-east was that of exclusion from the Buhari administration. He however spoke against the background of controversies surrounding the replacement of the board of the National Pension Commission, PenCom where the former Director-General, Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazu from Anambra state was sacked recently.
Anohu-Amazu was sacked two years into her statutory five year tenure and replaced by Aliyu Dikko from Kaduna state against the provisions of the Pension Reforms Act, 2014. Section 21(2) of PRA 2014 provides that ‘In the event of a vacancy, the President shall appoint a replacement from the geo-political zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure’.
Some Northern elements also joined the fray, with Dr Junaid Mohammed describing the present administration as nepotistic. Niger Delta activist, Ms Ankio-Briggs, said: “I think this is unacceptable. It is not surprising because that is what this government has done since it came. Its appointment has favoured the North. “Some of us now refer to the federal government as government of the Northern Republic of Nigeria. They have changed from federal character to northern character. “The government of the day is not listening to what Nigerians are saying, Nigerians are complaining everyday against nepotism in the system. They have taken more employment for themselves. Everything about Nigeria is skewed against us. We begin to wonder what exactly binds us together if it is not the oil and gas.” Mrs Fila Henshaw, a onetime governorship aspirant in Cross River state, said: “It is unfortunate that some people when given position of leadership fail to understand that they have become the fathers of all.”
On his part, the chairman, National Conscience Party, Katsina state chapter, Abdulmumini Shehu Sani said President Buhari administration has continued to breach the principles of the federal character in his appointment and recruitment exercises. His words: “President Buhari has not been abiding by the principle of federal character. He has ignored the rule of law. He violated the rule of law. “He should put into consideration other people from other areas and that way nobody will cry foul. And by doing so, he would be just to all.The issue of ethno-religious crisis will be addressed.” Also speaking, former leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Ledum Mitee said: ‘’You cannot allocate more slots of the secret police to a section of the country. It portends danger for national security because the secret police is a very key component of national security. ‘’When you structure it in a manner that it is populated by those from a section of the country then it is unfair and unacceptable.’’ Former Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Rowland Owie, blamed those advising Buhari on his appointments as enemies of the nation. He said: “If you look at the way and manner the Igbo are being treated in this country, it is very unfair. Their people in government are being removed every day and replaced with Hausa. I wonder what those advising the President want for this nation. You cannot beat a child and expect that child not to cry. “While I congratulate members of the National Assembly who are striving hard to carry out their legitimate functions, I urge them to remember that it is the legislative arm that makes any government democratic because, even with a military regime, the executive and judiciary arms are always there, and as representatives of the people, they should rise and save this country, that is now in very terrible situation, from total ruin, especially as Buhari handlers have become very undemocratic.’’ Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, through its state publicity secretary, Chris Nehikhare said: “It’s tragic that a federal government that was voted in mainly to balance the illogical and widely condemned quota system and federal character doctrine is the same federal government encouraging nepotism and ethnic profiling to determine employees in federal government agencies.’’
A Benin based legal practitioner, Mr Olayiwola Afolabi, described the latest DSS recruitment as “Corruption in Appointments”. His words: “The president has been getting away with such lopsided appointments in the past because Nigerians have refused to confront him constitutionally. We can no longer take this. “His lopsided appointees have never worked for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians and it is time we resort to merit in appointments so that the country can take its place in the comity of developed nations.”
The newly commissioned cadet officers recruited into the DSS on geopolitical basis revealed that 165 are from the North-west, about four times as many as those who were picked from the South-south (42). The figures for the other zones are North-east 100, North-central 66, South-west 57 and South-east 44. The presidency however claimed the recruitment details were analysed out of context.The presidency’s reaction was contained in a statement which curiously had no name attached to it.