The selection of 5,000 men and officers from the 1.5 million Nigerians who applied for vacancies into the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has not gone down with some prominent Nigerians. Their candidates did not make the final list.
The recruitment process started in 2019 and lasted till this year when the incumbent minister of interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbsola and the commandant-general of the corps, Dr. Abubakar Ahmed Audi, concluded it.
When the final list came out, LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt that some governors, senators and members of the House of Representatives, traditional rulers from some parts of the country and businessmen protested because their candidates were missing on it.
Consequently, they mounted pressure on the minister and CG who allegedly insisted that in view of the precarious security situation, the federal government could afford to compromise on stands in the recruitment of men and officers into the NSCDC.
It was learnt that it was against this backdrop that some governors cried out that the names of candidates in their states’ allocations were alien to them.
A credible source in the ministry of interior told LEADERSHIP Weekend; “We adhered strictly to the rules of fairness, justice and equity in the selection process.”
Investigations revealed that both the minister and the NSCDC boss who inherited the selection process which began in 2019 ignored the sordid path that the recruitment process had often charted and refused to bow to pressures from influence peddlers in the country but ensured that the selected 5,000 recruits emerged through merit.
The Civil Defence, Correctional, Fire and Immigration Services Board (CDCFIB) opened its recruitment portal on August 9, 2019, where it later disclosed that 1.4 million Nigerians had scrambled for the 5,000 job openings advertised by the NSCDC.
When the application portal was opened in 2019, about 1, 477, 042 Nigerians applied for various spots but using a set of criteria, the figure was pruned to 217,000 in March 2020 and 53,116 in December 2020. Sometime in 2022, the figure was again reduced to 6,500 before the final screening which arrived at the targeted 5,000.
A top source at the board told LEADERSHIP Weekend that contrary to claims in some quarters, the process was hijacked by Aregbesola and Audi’s predecessors, political and business heavyweights, who reserved slots for their preferred candidates through backdoor, “We could not risk the nation’s future, development and progress by presenting less than the best for the job.”
Under the old order, 10-40 percent of the total slots were reserved for the powers that be and later increased to between 40- 80 percent, a practice that had led to the less competent dominating the corps. However, Aregbesola and Audi stepped on every toe imaginable to achieve the goal of selecting only the most qualified 5,000 candidates.
However, some aggrieved staff members of the board have argued that the usual “who gets what, how and why, the drama that characterised the over two years recruitment process brought to the fore, the wishy-washy manner in which individuals who were not even capable of spelling their names, but were highly favoured got key positions into the various sectors of the polity at the detriment of those who merited them.”
When contacted on certain allegations against key actors in the recruitment process, the director of public relations of the corps, DCC Olusola Odumosu, told our correspondent that the selection was purely on merit. He expressed shock at the news that some powerful toes were stepped on as he categorically said that no prominent Nigerian attempted to influence the process.
He said, “The truth is that all the classification of persons you listed are well meaning Nigerians who understand that the nation requires its best and brightest to pilot it through the turbulence of nationhood and the challenges of development. I strongly believe and I am aware that all former ministers of interior and CGs of the Civil Defence take this philosophy very seriously and strive often to put their best foot forward. For as much as I know them, favouritism, tribalism and playing the second team just does not suffice. Only the first eleven will do. I mean, the best.”
Odumosu said both the minister and his boss were ardent believers in the logic that the most qualified should get the job. They both do not give room to mediocrity in recruitment. There is ample evidence to show, he said.
“Yes, selecting these 5,000 following the rot that had attended the system was no mean task. It was one which came with a lot of danger. It was not a job for the faint-hearted or the lily-livered. It was a job for the brave and lion-hearted. It was a job for the fearless and incorruptible. Aregbesola and Audi fit that bill,” he said.
Odumosu added; “The Civil Defence Corps understands that a drowsy work-force is not what we need in the country, especially at a time when the nation needs a surgical operation on all fronts to solve the myriad of problems confronting it on a daily basis.
“I can beat my chest to tell you that they both spearheaded institutional reforms through the establishment of due process mechanisms and strategies that became the nightmare of fraudulent persons. As far as this selection is concerned, the two leaders were fearless in the discharge of their duties and shunned attempts to compromise them. Yes, they spoke with authority and acted with finality against favouritism.”
The spokesman added, “My boss is one person who firmly believes that Nigerians must go back to the days where merit, professionalism, expertise and willingness to work dominated the workforce which yielded viability and sustainability. He is of the school of thought that argues that leaders must begin the process of placing into leadership positions square pegs in square holes, so that efficiency can take the centre stage in our polity.”
Further findings by our correspondent showed that those who were secretly offered employment and were gearing up to assume duties prior to Audi’s resumption of office were thrown out.
A source close to the interior ministry in Abuja said the federal government was deeply embarrassed by the controversy surrounding the NSCDC recruitment and would, therefore, not allow what it described as “backyard” recruitment into the service.
The source said, “I can say that the government prior to this final list, cancelled the backdoor recruitment exercise that was carried out and took appropriate steps to recruit in a transparent way.
Already, the Bauchi State House of Assembly has rejected the outcome of the recent recruitment process as it relates to the state, declaring it as a scam.
The resolution of the House followed the submission of the report of the Joint Committee on Security and Public Service on the exercise by the corps which was laid by Hon. Sabo Bako Sade, representing Sade Constituency.
According to the report, the committee discovered that after the screening for the recruitment, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the state communicated to the Assembly that there was a scam during the exercise in which seven of the 10 applicants whose names appeared on the state’s list were discovered to be non-indigenes as reported by Hon. Jamilu Umaru Dahiru, the member representing Bauchi Central.
The committee has since recommended that the outcome of the exercise and communicate the same to the national headquarters of the NSCDC.
Also recently, Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum gave reasons why the nation’s security system is seldom compromised.
He was quoted to have said, “These days, the governors, ministers and other top government functionaries have slots; nobody is to interview them whether they are qualified or not. Admission into the Nigerian Army, police and other security agencies are now politicised.”
According to him, the undue influence of politicians has made it almost impossible for the country to get the required commitment and dedication from those recruited into the security agencies.
His words, “The major problem is the recruitment process, those being recruited into Nigerian Army, police, and other security agencies are job seekers, many of them are there because they don’t have a job. Those enlisted 20 years ago are performing well but these people are looking for employment only, so there’s no commitment and dedication.”