Critical Conversations

Politicians seek to Hijack Nigeria’s Security Apparatus

There is a well-established correlation between good selection methods and the subsequent performance of individuals appointed into sensitive positions.

In Nigeria, most political appointments are often made according to the provision of the Federal Character regulations which recommends a balance in appointments.

However, even where there are job openings in sensitive areas like security, politicians and social cultural groups still try to lobby for  slots in their favour. They are not sensitive enough to note that there are some areas Federal Character have been exempted from influencing. For instance, the Ohanaze Ndigbo General Assembly Worldwide, OGA, recently urged President Muhammadu Buhari to consider appointing an Igbo person as the next Inspector-General of Police, IGP.

The group made this known during its reaction to the president’s appointment of new service chiefs. In a statement by its President-General, Onuorah Onyeachonam, the group said President Muhammadu Buhari excluded Igbo from the appointments and urged him to appoint the most senior Igbo in the force as IGP.

The reaction from the Igbo group was received by many Nigerians with mixed feelings. While some considered it genuine and timely, others are of the view that it’s nothing but a political misadventure that reveals the level of desperation of some interest groups.

To some, the reaction is nothing short of the usual attempt to hijack the nation’s security apparatus by politicians.  This is because most of the people that claim to speak for others do that for their selfish interest. It is also vital to note that obstacles to merit and quality performance include political patronage, nepotism, and ethnic discrimination.  It is surprising that Ohaneze Ndigbo forgot that security appointments are not influenced by the Federal Character clause. Or how could they fall into the temptation of making such a biased request?

In a related development, the Niger Delta Congress (NDC) has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against side-stepping the South-south in the next Inspector-General of Police appointment.

The group believed that Moses Jitoboh should have been promptly appointed the next police chief after Mohammed Adamu’s tenure ended. It claimed that Mr. Buhari extended Adamu’s tenure by three months to prevent Mr. Jitoboh from occupying the office.

The NDC acting spokesperson, Adokiye Oyagiri, in a statement on Monday said the reason given by the police affairs Minister, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, was tricky, considering the fact that everybody knew that Mr. Adamu was due for retirement on February 1. It is strange that the NDC did not know that it is the best candidate that is always picked, not necessarily the next in command.

According to findings, Nigeria has about 400,000 police personnel in total, and about half of them are deployed to politicians and VIPs. Therefore, whenever politicians clamour for an appointment of a security head from their block, they do that, sometimes, with some underlying selfish interest.

Unlike Nigeria, in other countries, politicians hire security officers from  private security firms. This should be a wise choice, not to overstretch a federal agency that is already suffering from inadequate manpower.

Continued insecurity in Nigeria has led many to question the function and effectiveness of Nigeria’s security apparatus. Many observers feel selfish interest from contract seeking politicians has been the nemesis of security chiefs in previous administrations.

The pressure is still heavy to curb widespread banditry and communal crisis, especially between Herders and Farmers. Upheaval of IPOB in the Southeast and local grievances in the Niger Delta region remain a threat to national growth and development.

Even then, this unprecedented threat to national security is treated dismissively, by parochial ethnic associations pursuing glib lines of political goals and personal agenda. Politicians oftentimes would not mind the appointment of mediocre security chiefs to fan their embers, to the detriment of the whole nation.

This is why President Buhari should ignore all rantings from narrow-minded associations and focus on enthroning peace, law and order with the best hands in the country, no matter their ethnic background.

It is opined in some quarters that, the attempt by politicians to hijack Nigeria’s security apparatus is what is delaying the establishment of state police to complement the activities of the federal police.

Those opposed to the proposal have argued against the establishment of State Police stating that the country is not ripe for it, and insisting that state governors might turn them to personal political army to fight perceived political opponents.

Most of Nigeria’s security hiccups have also been linked to nosy political actors. Instead of preferring solutions, politicians have continued to scheme to make security apparatus dance to their own type of music.

Many want to use their cronies to get mouth-watering contracts. In doing so, politicians will campaign aggressively for their allies, create new opportunities to enrich themselves, fuel bureaucratic rivalry, inflate contracts, and dilute the operational efficiency of the security architecture.

Read Also: Internal Security: Checking Recurrent Attacks On Police Posts

In Nigeria today, some politicians have become more powerful than some state institutions, pursuing their personal interest to the detriment of the country at large.

Thus, it is vital for government to note that national security is too important to be used as a political instrument. In this light, all parochial demands from interest groups should be ignored to ensure that the gain of the past few years are not lost on the platform of ethnic jingoism.

By Godwin Anyebe

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