· As S/East, S/South get least slots
As controversy over the recent lopsided recruitment by the Department of State Security Services (DSS) gathers steam, the Senate has directed its Committee on Federal Character to investigate the exercise.
At its plenary session on Thursday, the Senate said that the details of the recruitment exercise, which are already in the public domain, were too disturbing to be ignored.
The Senate said that it had been inundated with petitions by angry Nigerians over the alleged fraudulent recruitment and declared that it owed the citizens the obligation to look into the exercise.
Before the Senate’s action, the Federal Character (FCC) had expressed shock at the action of the DSS – and had asked the DSS Director-General, Alhaji Lawal Daura, to explain why the federal character principle was not complied with in the disputed recruitment.
The FCC said that it was yet to receive Daura’s response to its query because the DSS boss was said to have travelled out of the country.
The agency warned that if after Daura returned from his trip he did nothing about the query, it would apply the necessary sanction.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Character, Senator Tijjani Abubakar Kaura (APC Zamfara North) had during plenary on Thursday explained that his committee, based on petitions received from concerned Nigerians on recent recruitment carried out by the DSS, resolved to probe the exercise considered to be highly lopsided in favour of Katsina State and the North.
Daura hails from Katsina State, which is also President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state.
Senator Kaura, who raised the matter under Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules, said that probing the alleged lopsided recruitment by the DSS and taking needed steps thereafter, would help restore the confidence of Nigerians on the principles of federal character required for such exercise on the basis of equity, justice and fairness.
In his response to Kaura’s submission, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, mandated the Senate Committee on Federal Character to probe the exercise and update the Senate with its findings.
He said: “Your committee should please go ahead with the planned investigation on the alleged lopsided recruitment in the DSS to right whatever wrongs that must have been committed, in the general interest of all Nigerians.”
In the controversial recruitment carried out by the DSS last month, there were wide disparities in the state-by-state allocation of the 479 newly-commissioned cadet officers.
According to media reports, Daura ensured that at least five cadets were recruited from each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but tilted the scale heavily in favour of Katsina and other states in the North West zone.
For instance, the number of cadet officers from Katsina State was higher than the entire South-South and South East zones.
Katsina State alone had 51 cadets.
The two most populous states in Nigeria - Kano and Lagos - were given 25 and 7, respectively, indicating that the recruitment was not based on the population of the states.
A break down of the commissioned cadet officers on geopolitical basis showed that 165 are from the North West alone, almost four times those picked from the South-South (42) and higher than the 143 recruited from the entire Southern Nigeria.
The figures for the other zones are: North East, 100; North Central, 66; South West, 57 and South East, 44.
Further analysis revealed that while 331 of the cadet officers are from the 19 northern states and the FCT, less than half of the total intakes were from states in the South.