When on the 16th of August 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari PMB, gave marching order to Sir Mike Okiro-led Police Service Commission PSC to recruit 10,000 policemen; on the occasion of National Summit on Security that took place at International Conference centre Abuja; skeptics were of the opinion that the exercise will be marred by Nigerian factor of nepotism, cash and carry factor and favoritism. The President specifically warned that extortion of any kind will not be acceptable.
Determined to once again, prove that under him, recruitment exercise will always be successful, Sir Mike Okiro swung into action. The first step he took was to inform Nigerians who were anxious to see the exercise take off, that since budgetary provision was not made for the exercise in 2015, any attempt to go on with it, will be doomed for failure. So, in 2016, the exercise was captured in the budget, thereby setting the stage for hitch free recruitment.
According to information, Police Service Commission designed a template for the exercise that took into account, the principle of Federal Character. In doing this, the Commission decentralized the recruitment process, this enables each and every State feel the exercise in their own domain. Another factor that gave credibility to the exercise was the standing order by PSC that, serving policemen should not apply to be recruited into the force, that any officer who flouts the order will be dismissed.
In an effort at ensuring a hitch free online registration, the commission designed and hosted a user friendly website for the exercise. The registration effectively kicked off on the 1st of April, 2016. About two months later, the exercise came to a close. By the closing date, about one million Nigerians had registered. When the successful candidates were contacted via SMS, the unsuccessful applicants, complained of being left out, PSC took time to explain why they were not considered at that stage. Parts of the explanation were overage and incongruence in filling of the form The Chairman of PSC, Sir Mike Okiro, in an interview he granted to Channels Television about two months ago, appealed to more than three hundred thousand equally qualified applicants that could not be recruited into the Force because of the ten thousand (10,000) they were mandated to recruit, to please take the situation calmly, just as he pitied them for not being recruited despite their qualification for the job. Pundits further saw Okiro’s statement as honest appraisal of the issue and another proof of transparency and openness on the part of PSC.
The exercise was said to be thorough, that many who made it to second round, were disqualified because of marks like tattoo on their bodies. Age cheats were dictated and offenders sent home. Certificate forgers were found out and showed the exit door. Those that made it the third round were then subjected to aptitude test. It was at this point that media bandits like Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of saharareporters and his confederates in amorphous civil society group, Olanrewaju Suraju led Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC); started attacking the recruitment process. Though, pundits believed they were sponsored by the enemies of Okiro-led PSC to discredit the exercise. Nigerians saw through their evil intentions, they refused to buy into the dastardly plot.
Some elements in the National Assembly sought to introduce their own meaning of federal character in the exercise, this, the Okiro led PSC resisted. Report had it that PMB had to intervene in the standoff with NASS on the recruitment process. The matter was said to have been resolved in favour of the template the PSC had fashioned out for the recruitment drive.
Pundits and watchers of events in Police Force are of the opinion that the only exercise carried out by the police about ten years ego; was done by Sir Mike Okiro when he was the Inspector General of Police. They strongly believe the experience he gained during the exercise, might be responsible for the success recorded in the latest one. The recruitment process was hailed as the best at that time. Pundits were generally impressed that it was the first time; the police opened itself up to modern recruitment process. Information and Communication Technology ICT was deployed, in the process, making the exercise credible and reliable.
A school of thought has come out with a powerful argument that the success of the latest exercise could be attributed to the Presidential directive with regard to the recruitment. But another school of thought, though agreed with the first school, but added that the Presidential directive would have amounted to a waste if it was not complemented by experienced leadership in the PSC. To buttress their point, they said that the Presidential directive also applied to all government establishments, but because of inexperience, the cry of nepotism and associated factors is now a common place.
It has generally been observed that the cry of nepotism, flagrant disregard for federal character principles and favoritism that characterized recruitment exercises in, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS), and Directorate of State Security Service (DSS); would not have arisen if these establishments had emulated PSC in their recruitment exercises. It is hoped that other government outfits wishing to employ Nigerians, will study how Sir Mike Okiro led PSC was able to employ 10,000 Nigerians without a single cry of nepotism.