By Folarin Ademosu
The story about illegal staff recruitment by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is as depressing as the revelatory “authority stealing” we are told the previous administration engaged in.
The CBN skewed recruitment, said to have begun in 2014, have persisted even under President Muhammadu Buhari – a man who barreled to power on popular will and had promised to diligently fight corruption.
Starting with a recent report by Daily Trust Newspapers on how the CBN secretly hired 909 people, investigative online news platform Saharareporters went on to deliver a star-studded 91-man list of the beneficiaries.
They are rich kids groomed to continue the rapacious treasury looting and position-fixing their slave-driving parents are notable for.
The list included a nephew of President Buhari, daughter of former Vice President Abubakar Atiku and children of Inspector-General of Police Solomon Arase, Minister of Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu and Minister of Internal Affairs, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, among others.
Unfortunately, the CBN appeared unfazed about this injustice and utterly criminal act. The Bank seemed not to give a hoot about its gross violation of the Nigerian Constitution, part of which articles of faith is social justice for all its citizens irrespective of class or status. The explanation given by the apex bank to justify its action has shown it to be anti-masses and pushed the CBN deeper into ignominy
In a public statement, CBN’s Director of Corporate Communication Issac Okorafor said the apex bank has “had cause to recruit specialists” and that it got a waiver to do “targeted recruitment”.
Okorafor added that the hidden exercise was meant to service “states that are not well represented (in the CBN)” … and to “focus on those states to recruit people of certain classes that we used to cover the shortfall in those states.”
The spokesman’s struggle to sew together a logical reason was eloquently an afterthought. Okorafor’s mention of a special selection shown to have mainly comprise children of politically-connected and high-office holders for the CBN jobs smacked of nepotism, corruption and class bias.
It has been alleged that the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele embarked on the special recruitment to cover up his less-than-sterling track as the bank’s head. The employment racket is believed to be a card to keep Emefiele in office following revelations of mind-boggling stealing and curious withdrawals by officials of Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. In saner climes, Emefiele would have resigned his position, the illegal employment reversed and a detailed investigation would have begun.
Undoubtedly, the CBN action flagrantly negated the Principle of Federal Character enshrined in Section 14 (3) of Nigerian Constitution, which stipulates that the composition of different levels of government and public establishments shall reflect the federal complexion of the country.
The argument that the CBN got a waiver from the Federal Character Commission, FCC, not to advertise the positions, whereas the law says so, is also an indictment on the latter. It simply shows that the FCC, established by law to ensure inclusiveness and the faithful application of federal character principle, is a lame duck.
What self-serving explanation can rationalize the deliberate exclusion of the huge army of unemployed graduates in a country where unemployment rate, as at third quarter of 2015, was almost ten per cent.
Obviously, neither the CBN nor the FCC acted in public interest and in line with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. The provision of Chapter II, Section 15 (4) of the 1999 Constitution states: “The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.” Going by the foregoing, the CBN pursued an ignobly narrow interest.
The hiring of almost 1000 staff is not a small exercise that should be hidden. This provides the clearest insight into class and ethnic domination of government positions by a few people or a tribe to the exclusion of the majority. The situation exposes the underbelly of Nigeria’s neo-colonialist rulers and their sense of false entitlements to our collective patrimony. The illegality of CBN’s action supplies yet, again, a scientific validity to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel’s assertion that “the executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the bourgeoisie”, as published in Communist Manisfesto of 1848. It has never been about the masses, it is about them – the powerful influencers, the slave-masters, the owners of capital and controller of power and means of production in Nigeria.
Again, the situation provides an unambiguous reading of the class differentiation that has always existed between Nigeria’s powerful and the powerless and the former’s conscious efforts to keep the latter in perpetual mental and economic slavery. The culture of entrenched power-fixing and the determination to ensure the majority have limited access to political and economic power is characteristic of Nigeria’s thieving gang.
More painful is the perceived loud silence, nay indifference of the civil society groups, human rights crusaders and the trade unions to this social injustice. The messianic perception of a Muhammadu Buhari presidency continues to fade when held against a light. Fighting corruption goes beyond economic crimes; it is also a battle to ensure fairness, equity and social justice in the polity.
Folarin Ademosu, a journalist, writes in from Lagos