The Nigerian presidency on Friday responded to PREMIUM TIMES report about the widespread lopsidedness in the latest recruitment exercise by the State Security Service (SSS).
PREMIUM TIMES had on Friday morning reported how the SSS loaded its agency with more people from the North than from the South of Nigeria in its 2016 recruitment.
So lopsided was the hiring that more people were employed from President Muhammadu Buhari’s Katsina State alone (51) than from all the South-east states combined (44). Katsina is also also the home state of the Director General of the SSS, Lawal Daura.
A breakdown of the newly commissioned cadet officers on geopolitical basis revealed that 165 are from the North-west, about four times as many as those who were picked from the South-south (42).
The figures for the other zones are North-east 100, North-central 66, South-west 57 and South-east 44.
While confirming this newspaper’s report to be true, the presidency claimed the recruitment details were analysed out of context.
The presidency’s reaction was made through an unnamed official who only discreetly distributed a statement to select journalists, including a PREMIUM TIMES reporter.
But this is not the usual means of reacting to media reports and public outrage by the presidency.
The unsigned statement said the secret police deliberately employed fewer southerners to correct previous ‘inequity’ against the northern part of the country.
The government did not however provide details of which states were under-represented and to what extent.
But PREMIUM TIMES sources in the administration and the SSS debunked the claim as “an afterthought.”
Our sources challenged Director General Daura to release the nominal roll of the agency’s entire personnel by states.
“That way, we will know if there was any imbalance in the representation of any state in the SSS,” one of our sources said. “But I can tell you that the claim that Katsina and the other northern states were under-represented is false.
“The presidency should be bold to launch an enquiry into this matter. Nigerians should stoutly resist this attempt by the presidency to cover up the matter.”
The presidency statement said the way the SSS conducted its controversial recruitment was not unusual, as other security agencies often engage in corrective measures to balance past lopsidedness.
“In an organisation that is very sensitive and an important one for national cohesion and stability,” such as the State Security Service, SSS, “there is always the need to ensure balance in recruitment and manning,” the presidential source said in the statement.
“This is also true of institutions such as the Army, the Navy and Air Force.”
The statement added that the SSS had to contravene the doctrine of federal character to recruit more people from the south when new cadets were admitted between 2015 and 2016 to balance representation.
But another of our sources said the SSS DG, Mr. Daura, is famous within the Service for his pro-North posturing.
“He is currently spending billions to build a training school in Katsina, and he has told close friends that before his departure from the SSS, he would ensure the agency is dominated by personnel from his part of the country,” the source said.
In an organisation that is very sensitive and an important one for national cohesion and stability such as the Department of State Services, DSS, there is always the need to ensure balance in recruitment and manning.
This is also true of institutions such as the Army, the Navy and Air force. Where such balancing in line with Federal Character is breached, the need arises from time to time, to find a way of redressing such inequity.
This is the true story of the recruitment, about a year-and-a-half ago in the DSS in which states that were short-changed in previous recruitments were awarded slots to enable them achieve a fair representation. This is what happened.
The report in circulation by the Premium Times though true, was taken in isolation of the context it was done. An investigative medium such as that one should have done a better job of this.
It is important to emphasise that it is in the interest of peace, stability and the general well-being of the nation that all component units are fairly represented in organisations such as this.
Where this comes short, efforts must be made to correct such lopsidedness as the DSS did between 20145 and 2016.