…it is a good idea that President Buhari expects Nigerians – unemployed youth – to be hopeful about the change he promised. On the contrary, it would be difficult to take him seriously seeing that his nephew, children, and relatives of his ministers and other officials of state are already illegally employed in public institutions, to which he says nothing about.
The secret recruitment of children and relatives of some highly placed Nigerians by the Central Bank of Nigeria has attracted lots of criticisms from the public since it was uncovered in the media a few weeks ago. Yet, President Buhari has refused to respond to or speak out about this.
In a bid to cover up the scandal, the CBN’s acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor said, “in the last two years, we have had cause to recruit specialists, and what the law says is that if we are going for that kind of recruitment we should apply for waiver, so that we can do targeted recruitment”. Well, its quite interesting that the qualified “specialists” for CBN’s “targeted recruitment” are ONLY the children, relatives and perhaps girlfriends of highly placed Nigerians.
However, the CBN’s claim that it obtained waiver from the Federal Character Commission to do such recruitments has been debunked through a report published by Premium Times, revealing that: “the Federal Character Commission says it is unaware of a waiver authorising the Central Bank of Nigeria to conduct a secret recruitment…” Do we assume that the CBN obtained its ‘waivers’ for the secret recruitment from heaven? Who is deceiving who?
Of course, some blind supporters of President Buhari would call the media platforms uncovering facts about this scandal pro-opposition media. That is fine. They might also label individuals calling the president’s attention to the issue as “wailers” or aggressively chide them to shut up. After all, the president is no “magician”, so anyone criticising the secret recruitment could go to CBN to apprehend the culprits or “go to hell”.
Well, all of these counter-critisms are fine. Buhari belongs to all Nigerians, irrespective of our differences and we are all entitled to our opinions. However, beyond glib talk, I think doing a reminder to the president on the CBN recruitment issue is not out of place for the following reasons: First, to ensure that it is not swept under the carpet. On the other hand, since it would be rash to conclude that President Buhari is aware of the secret recruitment, this might call his attention to the issue and prompt a response from him.
Second, those who expected that the president ought to have reacted on the basis of their belief that his “body language” does signs and wonders are getting really impatient. Of course, they know that job racketeering in public institutions predates the Buhari administration; however, they claim the need for an end to this is one of the reasons they voted for “change”.
Moreover, the fact that some top officials in the civil service were dismissed by the federal government for extortion and offering illegal employment in January justifies why they expect that punitive measures should be taken against those behind the secret recruitment in CBN.
Third and more importantly, letting such issue tarry for too long has negative consequences on President Buhari’s public perception as a man of integrity who frowns at corruption. As a matter of fact, we all recollect how former President Jonathan’s tardiness on some issues attracted public outrage and damaged his public perception beyond redemption.
A few of such cases include: his slowness in responding to the abduction of over 200 Chibok girls; his reluctance to ask former aviation minister, Stella Oduah to step down immediately the news about the extra-budgetary scandal involving her broke and, likewise, his decision to retain former minister of Interior, Abba Moro, after the tragic 2014 Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment exercise that left about 16 job seekers dead. All of these portrayed Jonathan as a weak, clueless, inept and an insensitive leader who also tolerates corruption in the eyes of many Nigerians.
Anyway, I hope these would resonate well with President Buhari as he appears to be buying more time before responding to this issue, if he would at all.
For now, Nigerians still see President Buhari as a man of integrity, which is why his response to the secret recruitment in the CBN is imperative. Of course, nepotism, cronyism and job racketeering falls within the purview of the ongoing fight against corruption, which tops the list on President Buhari’s agenda.
In 2013, a minister in Ghana, Ms. Victoria Hammah, was fired barely 24 hours after her driver taped and publicised her telephone conversation with a friend in which she said, “I will not quit politics until I have made $1 million”. I recall that then, this story was used to draw Jonathan’s attention to what firm, disciplined and strong leadership entails. By extension, I’ll be recommending that particular incident and its fallout to President Buhari as a teachable moment in this fairly analogous instance of corruption.
That said, it is a good idea that President Buhari expects Nigerians – unemployed youth – to be hopeful about the change he promised. On the contrary, it would be difficult to take him much seriously seeing that his nephew, children and relatives of his ministers and other officials of state are already illegally employed in public institutions, to which he says nothing about.
Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.