Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything… You take it.
– Malcolm X
We write to protest the recent secret, nepotic, underhand and corrupt recruitments undertaken by some government agencies – notably the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigerian Prisons Service, and demand that these recruitments be investigated; the heads of the agencies and all those involved in the recruitments suspended while investigation is ongoing; and the recruitments reversed for a more transparent and open exercise.
As you may be aware, it was widely reported that the aforementioned agencies recently employed hundreds of people many of them relatives of top government officials including a nephew of the President without any public notice of vacancies in these organisations to give every qualified and interested Nigerian an opportunity to apply. There were also allegations that some of the recruits paid huge sums of money to secure the appointments. It is worthy of note that none of these agencies has denied these allegations and dubious recruitments, rather, they have sought to defend the indefensible.
Mr. Babatunde Fowler, Executive Chairman of the FIRS only in April this year told the Senate Committee on Finance that the FIRS will recruit about 1,250 persons across the states immediately after the 2016 budget had been assented to by the President. In his words, “Basically what we are discussing is 2016 budget. And within the budget, we do have provision for recruitment of staff in terms of staff expansion; and in total we are expected to recruit about 1,250 and we have not started and that process will start once the budget have been approved.” You must therefore understand our shock that while Mr. Fowler was perjuring himself before the Senate and lying barefaced to Nigerians, deceiving people to submit CVs to the FIRS, he was already recruiting about 400 of his cronies and relatives of other government officials and those of the “privileged elites” including those of the Senate Committee Chairman on Finance, John Owan Enoh.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on its part, secretly recruited 909 staff between June 2014 and February 2015, in violation of due process and federal character principles. It said it opted for a secret process of hiring new staff in the past two years because the bank was doing “targeted recruitment”. It is obvious the CBN’s target were the children and relatives of the rich and powerful as the list of the new hires reads like a “who’s who in Nigeria”.
The Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) under the Controller-General, Ahmed Ja’afaru and Minister of the Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, hired about 530 recruits around May/June this year without following the established process for public service recruitment exercises. And in an effort to cover their tracks and conceal their illegal activity, NPS officials backdated the letters of appointment for the recruits.
In all these recruitments, there was no public advertisement of the positions; there was no transparency as the exercises were done secretly and under the table. It is sad and unacceptable that several weeks after the report of these scandalous recruitments broke open; the government has been loud in its silence, no one has condemned it, reversed it or even in the least bothered to investigate it.
Suffice to say this present government led by President Muhammadu Buhari came to power mid last year on the crest of fighting corruption. Corruption, it must be noted is not limited to stealing or misappropriating public funds but extends to rigging the system for personal gain.
Official figures for unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria is over 30%. Every year, millions of Nigerians graduate from our higher institutions after years of struggle with funding their education and coping with strikes by various tertiary institutions’ unions. Meanwhile, children of the rich and powerful are sent abroad most times with stolen public funds and shielded from the daily harrowing experience of schooling and studying in Nigeria by their parents. Upon graduation, while the children of the poor roam the streets for years in search of employment, the children of the privileged elites are secretly and dubiously employed in various government agencies. This unjust, inequitable and anti-people practice MUST STOP, more so under a government of CHANGE!
No Nigerian is more Nigerian than any other Nigerian and so all Nigerians irrespective of social, political, economic, religious or any other primordial consideration should have a fair and equal opportunity in serving our country. The ONLY consideration should be MERIT and laid-down procedures. This is the only way we can develop our country beyond prebendal politics.
In the light of the foregoing therefore, We DEMAND that:
The recent secret and dubious recruitments in the CBN, FIRS and NPS be reversed immediately;
The recruitments be investigated and all those found culpable be sanctioned;
The heads of the agencies and all those involved in the recruitments be suspended while investigation is ongoing; and
An open and transparent exercise be conducted in recruitments into any of the public agencies and services of government.
For: Citizens of Impact
Comrade Daniel ‘Seun Olatunde
Enough Is Enough Nigeria
Florence Ozor Foundation
Dorothy Njemanze Foundation
Young Lawyers Association
Youth Hub Africa
Northern Anti-Corruption Group
Be The Change Organization
Zuma Students Unity Forum