Does anyone still remembers how recruitment officials from the Nigerian Army randomly visited primary and junior secondary schools in the early 1980’s in search of eligible Nigerian youth to be lured into enlisting to serve Nigeria in the Nigerian Army? I, for one, will not forget in a hurry how often we were pestered then while in final stages of our primary school by large teams of military officers neatly and smartly dressed in their beautiful, powerfully starched military fatigues/uniforms, to be enlisted into the Nigerian Army even as most of us looked forward to seeing these agile and strong macho-looking young Nigerian soldiers to visit our schools in their usual search for persons burning with patriotic zeal and endowed with the strength of character, discipline, youthful zeal to learn and good health to be enlisted into the Nigerian military without any further pre-condition.
Sadly, I am told by most younger persons in primary and post-primary schools today that they have never set their eyes on these ‘august’ visitors from the Nigerian military who were frequent guests of our primary and post-primary educational faculties in the early 1980’s.
Unlike then, what we now have is the invasion of the recruitment exercise into the Nigerian military of some modern day entrepreneurs who successfully hood-winked the hierarchies of the various military establishments through the political administrators, that the institution of the Nigerian military can reap bountiful financial benefits by introducing the sale of scratch cards to prospective recruits into the different segments of the Nigerian military even as the management consultants would also smile home with their handsome financial gains from this commercially profit -driven idea that is totally bereft of altruism or patriotic love of Nigeria.
Unfortunately, the Nigerian military institutions and their Para-military sister agencies like the Nigerian Police Force; the Nigerian Customs; the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Nigerian Civil Defense Corp, not forgetting the National Drugs Law enforcement Agency [NDLEA] are now feasting on the millions of jobless Nigerian youth wandering around the streets searching for the scarcely available white collar jobs, by selling recruitment scratch cards to willing buyers who usually are far more than the number of required or expected recruits to fill up the vacant positions in those establishments.
So what we now know as purchase of scratch cards by prospective recruits in our contemporary Nigerian military institutions has created a situation of bumper harvest of profits by these military agencies who now smile to the banks with multi-million Naira profits from the marketing of recruitment scratch cards to prospective recruits most of whom are now made up of angry young Nigerian university and secondary school leavers who have wandered in the weather beating state capitals of Nigerian cities and the twin commercial and political capitals of Nigeria namely Lagos and Abuja without finding any employment with living wages. If I am not mistaken, this commercialized recruitment into the military institutions became rampant during the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired General of the Nigerian Army who was generously recruited into the then Nigerian Army without any commercial pre-conditions as are the case unfortunately these contemporary times.
My take is that this marketing of scratch cards to all manner of characters most of whom are shady and may have criminal past was the single contributing factor to the speedy collapse of regimentary discipline in the Nigerian Military making it impossible for the Nigerian Army that is primarily set up by law to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria to be taken by surprise by the emergence of different classes of armed terrorists who have invaded our territory through the many porous international borders and have unleashed devastating violence on the civil populace and selected government institutions and operatives of the Nigerian security.
Herein lies also the beginning of the contagious bribe-for-employment racketeering that has taken over the public service sector of the Nigerian society because if Government has institutionalized the commercialization of the recruitment into the most strategic national institution like the military, those who now pay bribe to secure employment opportunities in the Nigerian public service have it at the back of their minds that it is lawful to give bribe to secure employment since even the Government openly auctions recruitment into the military and Para-military institutions. So don’t blame the criminal phenomenon of paying bribe for employment by Nigerian youth on the prospective job seekers but rather locate the blame squarely on the door steps of the Nigerian government which actively introduced the marketing of recruitment scratch cards to such sacred national anti-crime and law and order institutions like the Nigerian Army and other security establishments including the National Drugs Law enforcement Agency that ought to fight drug barons from infiltrating our nation and flooding it with their deadly merchandise of hard drugs. Little wonder that Nigeria has become an international transit for hard drugs even with all the media propaganda by the anti-hard drugs agency to the contrary.
Who says that it is not possible that drug barons would have cashed in on the sale of scratch cards for recruitment to flood the agency with their foot soldiers since raising money to procure the scratch cards wont pose much problem unlike other genuine Nigerian graduates who would have to scratch their sun-beaten heads to raise the N2,000 usually charged for the cards? Not long ago, some members of the Federal House of Representatives debated on the floor of the so-called green chamber and stoutly opposed the charging of high fees for purchase of scratch cards for recruitment into these military institutions in Nigeria because according to those who spoke mostly from Northern Nigeria, their constituents are not only too poor but not technologically savvy to understand the intricacies of how to fill up the forms making use of the computers in places that mostly do not have electricity power supply much of the time. But the Federal House of Representatives allowed the commercial agenda of the innovators who introduced the scratch cards to override national security and national pride. Big shame!
We are dealing with a very dangerous phenomenon whereby the national security may have been endangered. Was is not the current President who stated that the military has being infiltrated by agents of the dreaded armed Islamic terrorists-Boko Haram? Again, was the alleged mastermind of the dastardly criminal bombing of the Catholic Church in Madala, near Suleja, Niger State, Mr. Kabiru Sokoto not apprehended in the Borno state Governor’s lodge in Abuja whereby he was allegedly conveyed by a serving Air force middle level officer who was reintegrated into the military after some unserious questioning? Was Obasanjo as the then President of Nigeria not quoted in the media to have alleged that armed robbers have now been recruited into the Nigerian Police Force just as this allegation emerged against the backdrop of sale of scratch cards to prospective recruits?
On this disturbing case of buying and selling of scratch cards for enlistment into the Nigerian military, I have asked questions and told by not less than a dozen United States based Nigerians who should know that recruitment into the United States marine and the United States of America’s Army does not go with such commercial pre-conditions like the commercial sale of scratch cards to prospective recruits. I was told that the authorities in The United States are much more concerned about recruiting persons with clean record and who have met the educational, health and physical fitness test. And if you doubt me all you need to do is to browse from Google to search if other jurisdictions commercially markets scratch cards for recruitment into their military institutions and the fastest answer that will confront you is that Nigerian military sale scratch cards for recruitment.
This practice, according to what I also found out from my inquiry for over two months, is completely alien to most developed economies who cherish their national security and would do everything under the sun to maintain and preserve their time-tested and time-honored values of love of their nation above anything else.
For instance, http://www.goarmy.com/ is of the considered opinion that in the area of health qualification to join the United States Army, the potential recruit only has to be of overall good physical condition and is required by statute to pass a physical prior to enlistment as well as pass an initial strength test prior to being shipped to basic training just as it stated that educationally, the United States Army accepts enlistments from both those with high school diploma and those with the GED. There was no mention of purchase of recruitment scratch card before being enlisted into the United States Army.
Well, I stand to be corrected, if indeed Nigerian government officials borrowed this unusual practice of commercially offering for sale recruitment into the Nigerian Military from some foreign jurisdictions, then they have committed the unintended blunder of unleashing the demons of ‘anything- is- possible’ in these institutions even as the unintended consequences of young graduates now buying their ways to gain recruitment into the Nigerian public and civil service logically flowed from this evil practice that is obtainable in the recruitment exercise into the Nigerian military.
It would be recalled intellectually that Mr. George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the German Philosopher of the 19th century espoused one of his finest theories which is known as the Hegel’s Dialectics which I want to fall back on to explain the criminal nexus between the commercialization of recruitment into the Nigerian military with the incessant and disturbing criminal phenomenon of bribes-for-employment that has gained notoriety now in Nigeria.
Hegel believed that ideas evolved through a Dialectical process meaning that a concept gives rise to its opposite, and as a result of this conflict, a third view, the synthesis, arises. For him, the Synthesis is at a higher level of truth than the first two views. Following the Hegelian format, I will submit that the introduction of the marketing of recruitment scratch cards into Nigerian Military gave rise to the antithesis of bribe-for-employment and now the synthesis is the genuine clamor for this evil practice to be terminated so that we can once more sanitize the recruitment mechanism into all of our public and civil service institutions in Nigeria and by so doing institutionalize the virtues of merit, competence and professional excellence.
The other repugnant pollutant observed in the recruitment into the various category of employment slots in Nigeria in both the private and public sector is what is referred as ‘man-know-man’ or favoritism which is in wide application all across Nigeria that has culminated in the evil phenomenon whereby the young Nigerian graduates searching for employment would have to obtain a reference letter from a prominent political office holder like ministers and national legislators and worst of all from the parents of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The sacrilege of alleged involvement of the family members of the number one Nigerian citizen in fixing employment slots for their choice candidates came to light when Mrs. Rose Uzomma, the first Nigerian Woman to head the Nigeria Immigration Service was sacked for alleged job racketeering and the media reported the allegation that the last recruitment she carried out was largely manipulated allegedly by the supervisory minister of Interior Mr. Moro Aba and the members of the First family who were alleged to have successfully secured juicy slots for their candidates. She became the sacrificial lamb because she was expected to have done everything within her power to maintain the code of silence synonymous with such high level job racketeering involving high profile political office holders and sadly, she gave way without crying ‘blue murder’ because she got the soft landing of being retired with full entitlements. Her exit ended that allegations even as nothing seems to have changed.
It is a notorious fact that appointments into public and top civil service slots in Nigeria are decided not just by Federal Character but determined and shared during nocturnal meetings by top political office holders like the Senate President, the Speaker and his Deputy and not forgetting the powerful Deputy Senate President and the ministers who call the shots in their areas of jurisdiction.
On good authority I was informed that a certain minister successfully secured juicy appointment for his new mistress who recently did her compulsory one year national service [NYSC] in the Nigerian Copyright Commission [NCC] and this little but beautiful damsel with little or no experience was posted to, I am told, strategic and juicy position. Then tell me how this kind of important agency of government can perform her statutory role properly and rid the Nigerian markets of pirated materials of creative and talented entrepreneurs who are at the receiving end of the dare devil activities of these commercial demons called pirates? The Public Complaint Commission which is solely supervised [oddly] by the National Assembly is filled up with commissioners that are recommended by powerful leaders of the National Assembly not minding if these characters qualify or not. How can this corruption infested Public Complaint Commission be competent and ready to handle the complaints from the Nigerian public when their position constitute serious complaint and a source of public outrage?
So I laughed to high heavens when newspapers reported that the current Senate of the Federal Republic was probing the widespread bribe-for-employment racketeering because the Senators are the single largest cause of the pollution of the recruitment process into the Federal Civil service because they misuse their oversight function provided for under the constitution to seek for favors from the Director Generals of agencies and minsters holding offices in the different ministries who usually come to them at the National Assembly to pad up their annual budgets and for sundry other public sessions usually staged to confuse undiscerning Nigerians that they are working for Nigerians. Deception has being elevated to a beautiful art form by the political office holders Nigeria.
Recently, President Jonathan released the list of his nominees to some very sensitive slots in the nations tertiary institutions and health faculties and one of such persons appointed was the former Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Mr. Salisu Buhari from Kano state who was indicted, prosecuted and jailed and later pardoned for certificate forgery. Jonathan who has a doctorate degree from University of Port Harcourt appointed this same man to head the governing council of a Federal University and his spokesman who has a doctorate degree in performance arts defended this obscene appointment.
Why then are we wondering how and when the rain started to beat us[ apologies to Chinua Achebe]?
We are the general cause of the problem of bribe-for-employment and the earlier we collectively decide to kill it then we need to take some bold steps including phasing out this mad rush to make profit from unsuspecting young Nigerians in the guise of recruiting them into the Nigerian military and the emphasis we lay on paper qualification rather than practical experience hasn’t helped this matter either.
+Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria; blogs @www.huriwa.blogspot.com; http://www.huriwa.org/.