For some time now, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been involved in one controversy or the other. While the dust generated by a recent fraud and the resultant suspension of one of its Deputy Governors and four directors is yet to settle, the apex bank is again embroiled in allegations of secret recruitment of 909 staff without due process.
According to reports, the recruitment took place within the last two years without the organisation advertising the vacancies in conformity with the provisions of the law, and in line with federal character. The recruitment was also alleged to have unduly favoured certain geo-political zones in the country, contrary to federal character provisions and the Nigerian Constitution.
The banking regulator has neither acknowledged nor denied this allegation. Details of the recruitment purportedly carried out between June 2014 and February 2015 show that out of the 909 staff allegedly employed, 213 of them are from the South-South region. North-Central has 178; South-West, 176; South-East, 156; North-West, 104 and North-East, 80.
Also among the irregular recruitments, according to the allegation, are those for five executive positions (Assistant Directors), from Abia, Edo, Anambra, Oyo and Benue states. Also, 411 others are said to occupy senior positions from the rank of senior supervisors and principal managers, with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) accounting for 11 slots. A breakdown of the alleged secret recruitment shows that Edo, Oyo, and Imo states have 48, 42 and 41 persons, while Delta has 78, Ogun (38), Osun (21), Kaduna (36), Kano (21), Kogi (25), Kwara (40), Niger (18), Nasarawa (16), Plateau (34) and Zamfara (2).
Considering the weight of this allegation, we call for a thorough investigation of this recruitment exercise by the Federal Character Commission (FCC). This is the agency that is constitutionally mandated to ensure adherence to federal character in the nation’s public institutions.
The probe of the recruitment should not be politicized. It should be devoid of ethnic and regional coloration. Such investigation should be in line with the provision of the constitution, especially Section 14, subsection 3, which stipulates that “the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and to command national loyalty.” This, the constitution says, is to ensure that “there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies.”
If the probe into the recruitments at the CBN will be worthwhile, it should not be targeted at any particular public official. The FCC should, among other things, verify the allegation that the recruitment is against the provisions of the law. The investigation must not, in any way, be a political witch-hunt of any individual.
The essence of the probe should be to find out if due process was, indeed, followed. If any undue lopsidedness is discovered, it should be corrected. The probe should also be transparent. Pertinent questions should be asked on the advertisement of the positions if, indeed, this was done. Those opposed to the recruitment claimed that the CBN, in September last year, issued a statement in which it denied any general recruitment in the bank. The statement, reportedly signed by its Director, Corporate Communications, Ibrahim Mu’azu, had said that the apex bank would not embark on any recruitment without due process.
Beyond the CBN, other parastatals and federal government agencies where allegations of “secret recruitments” have been similarly reported should be investigated. It is important for all Nigerians to stand against nepotism and breaches of constitution.
There should be equal opportunity of access to employment for all qualified Nigerians. We must all frown at clandestine recruitments that are restricted to certain privileged persons at the detriment of the generality of the people.
It is disheartening that many beneficiaries of employment in choice government agencies are believed to be children and relatives of political office holders and other wealthy Nigerians. This situation is an affront to the rights of other Nigerians to compete for these jobs.
Altogether, we urge the FCC to be painstaking in its investigation. It should, henceforth, ensure that all recruitments into federal establishments are based on the principles of non-discrimination, fairness, transparency, merit, equity and respect for federal character. Nothing less will do.