RECENT promotions in the top echelon of the Nigeria Police have seen the South-East geopolitical region screaming against what seemed like a deliberate attempt at exclusionism. Indeed, when promotions, which are actually appointments, are made into the top echelon of public security organizations in a politically and socially-fractured country like Nigeria, it is expected that consideration is made with zonal representation in mind.
This will be in keeping with the constitutional provision on federal character. But the Nigerian experience is different. It is one that brazenly challenges the foundations of the country. As things are, Nigeria operates a six-geopolitical zone stricture. Many expect that when appointments are made into sensitive police leadership offices, the zones are considered for equal representation.
But the reality goes beyond making such appointments. Such promotions, or appointments, are often made from available pool of suitably qualified candidates. Structurally, it will be unwise and self-destructive to elevate a very junior officer to a higher office in order to balance the demand for equitable representation of the geopolitical zones. However, what is now a reality in the police, as in other Federal Government agencies, is the need torestructure the admission and recruitment process so as to create the needed balance. That’s where the problem starts.
To get my drift, take a cursory review of the last major recruitment into the Nigeria Police. There was a presidential approval
for the recruitment of 10,000 Nigerians into the Nigeria Police. Out of this number, about 1,000, I learnt, were recruited into the officer cadre, while 9,000 was recruited as constables. That was where the rot began. I was made to understand that for the re- recruitments into the officer cadre, each state got equal representation.
Though state governors hijacked the process and used it as reward for close as- sociates, every state got the same number of slots and there were no issues. But the game changed when it came to the recruitment
of constables. Instead of using the same template for the recruitment into the officer cadre, the template here changed to local government considerations. So, each local government got exactly the same number. Those within the Police Service Commission (PSC), who were courageous enough to raise their voices, were shut down with ‘the order is from above’.
For mathematical emphasis, let us assume that each of the 774 constitutionally recognized local governments got 10 slots. The implication of this is that while a state like Kano, with 44 local governments, got 440 slots, a state like Bayelsa, with eight local governments, got 80 slots and the FCT, with six area councils, got 60 slots. Compare the two and see the huge gap. (This also occurred in the distribution of the 774,000 jobs designed by Minister of State for labour, Festus Keyamo, for youths). Further implication is that with such a recruitment template, while the North-West geopolitical zone, with seven states, a total of 186 local governments, takes 1,860 slots, the North-Central, with six states and the FCT, a total of 120 local governments, took 1,200 slots.
On the same assumed template, the North-East with six states and about 111 local governments will contribute 1,110 constables, while South-East with five states and a total of 93 local government areas will contribute just 930 constables; the South-West with six states and a total of 137 local government areas gets 1,370 slots and South-South zone, with six states and a total of about 120 local government areas, will take some 1,200 slots. (Again, out of the 774,000 Keyamo jobs, the North-West took 186,000 slots while the South-East got only 93,000 slots. Multiply the above numbers by N60,000, the total of three months’ payment, and see what the financials show).
With this reality, the North-West will contribute the highest number of constables into the police force. Let us make a further assumption. From the above reality, let us imagine a situation where each of these numbers representing the zones leaves the police at the rate of 10 persons per month. The implication would be that in six months there would be no FCT representative in the police and, in eight months, there would be no representative of Bayelsa State left in the police. Looking at the zonal numbers, only the North-West is guaranteed a longer time in the police. By the time its total number of 1,860 leaves the force, every other region would have long been gone. By the time South-West’s total of 1,370 (the second high- est) leaves, the North-West would still have about 470 left in the force. Does this reality strike you?
Well, the implication of this is that the North-West will continually dominate the police because the recruitment template is skewed in its favour. So far as the intakes are based on local governments, other
parts of Nigeria will continually serve the North-West. However, to balance this and make every geopolitical zone, and state, feel equally represented, such recruitments have to be based on equality of states’ numbers.
If every state is to contribute an equal
number of recruits into the police, the imbal- ance will be cured to an extent. I say to an extent because, like I said earlier, becoming a member to leadership echelon of the force is not by promotion but by appointment. There are other considerations that come to play when such appointments are made. Those details may not be obvious to the public, but the ground upon which such ought to be built first is to ensure that every state of the country gets equal opportunity to be recruited into the force.
That is one of the ills that restructuring of the country’s governance and political system will cure. Those who are opposed to restructuring the system are probably beneficiaries of the tilt. They may not mind that the system no longer serves the unity of the country. However, if justice and peace should serve
to build a cohesive Nigeria, there is then the urgent need to restructure the police recruitment system such that every state of the country has opportunity for equal representation in the police and other services. That’s the best way to promote, and comply, with Federal Character as mandated by the Constitution of the republic.
Therefore, rather than a fight that may not yield results, I believe that it serves the interest of every geopolitical region of Nigeria to raise the agitation bar for the restructuring of the police recruitment system and change the template to make every zone feel the same sense of belonging. This will also destroy the feeling of dominance that a section of the country has over public office, especially the security outfits. While destroying the feeling of dominance, it will also help demobilize mindsets by the dominated geopolitical zones.
Some geopolitical zones’ continued feeling of exclusion from the leadership of security apparatchik of the country creates confidence problems and causes doubts in the intentions of the security leadership whenever their ideas run mild or wild, even if it is for ordinary routine training exercises