By ODUNEWU SEGUN
THE Central Bank of Nigeria is in the eye of the storm over its decision to carry out a secret recruitment exercises involving over 900 children of top government functionaries in the country between June 2014 and February 2015 without recourse to due process.
The House of Representatives condemned the secret recruitment exercise which involved the daughter of former vice president Atiku Abuabakar, a nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari and many relations of top government officials.
It has also mandated its committees on Federal Character and, Banking and Currency to investigate the alleged secret recruitment, and also to submit its report to the House within three weeks for further legislative action.
While moving the motion, Rep. Aliyu Sani Madaki (APC-Kano) described the recruitment exercise involving over 900 relations of highly placed government officials as unfair, lacking the basic principles of fairness, equity and justice as enshrined in the constitution.
According to the CBN’s acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, the apex bank obtained a waiver from the Federal Character Commission before embarking on the exercise. He said there are States that were not well represented in the CBN, and that the exercise as meant to address such imbalances.
Reacting to the statement that CBN sought and got its approval before the recruitment exercise, Acting Chairman of the Federal Character Commission, Dr. Shettima Bukar Abba, said understood that there were discussions between his processor, but that the Commission was also investigating whether or not the CBN had followed due process in the recruitment exercise.
He revealed that before he assumed office two months ago, the Commission operated under committees and that the CBN happens to be under the Financial Services Committee, which dealt directed with the CBN on the recruitments. He said upon assuming office about two months ago, he invited the CBN’s Human resource director who told him that the CBN got a waiver not to advertise the vacancies to avoid a recurrence of the Immigration recruitment tragedy.
According to National Daily investigations, CBN had in an earlier comment on its recruitment policy stated: “All appointments shall be made on the basis of merit, through a fair and open selection process. The principles underlying the recruitment process are those of fairness, credibility, equal employment opportunities, merit and optimisation of career prospects for currently employed staff.”
But National Daily learnt that the last time the bank publicly recruited workers was in 2013, after it announced and advertised the exercise in the media. A source said the bank recruited almost every month, since June 2014.
Coming to condemn the recruitment exercise, a coalition of 400 civil society organizations under the umbrella of Transition Monitoring Group has described the recent shady recruitment exercise as a grand betrayal of a change mantra of the Buhari’s administration.
The Group in a statement called on President Muhammadu Buhari to fish out the perpetrators and punish them according to the law of the land, adding that the reasons given by the apex bank to embark on secret recruitment exercise was not acceptable.
“TMG is dismayed by recent revelations of outright cronyism and favouritism in a shady recruitment exercise conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It is indeed very strange that impunity of this magnitude would be associated with the nation’s apex bank at a time Nigerians are hoping that the change mantra of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, would translate into better ethical standards for conducting government business,” the statement said
The statement said CBN has elected to sacrifice openness, merit and fairness in its recruitment. Accusing the apex of silently conspiring with looters and plunders of the nation’s financial resources during the last administration, adding that it was amazed that the current government has not deemed it fit to halt the discretion of an institution as vital as the CBN.
“For us, the recruitment scandal points to a culture of lax corporate governance, which has seen the CBN under the leadership of Godwin Emefiele canonize itself as a do-nothing institution in the face of criminal assaults on due process.”
According to the group, it is crystal clear that a clean sweep of leadership at the apex bank is long overdue.
Details of the recruitment, carried out between June 2014 and February 2015 showed that out of the 909 staff engaged, 213 of them are from the South-South region, CBN governor’s geo-political zone. Others are North Central, 178; South West, 176; South East, 158; North West, 104 and North East 80. The five executive positions (Assistant Directors) come from Edo, Abia, Anambra, Oyo and Benue states. About 411 others occupy senior positions from the rank of senior supervisors and principal managers.
A total of 491 staff was employed to fill junior positions over the period with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) accounting for 11 slots. State by state breakdown of the beneficiaries showed that Delta State had the highest number with 78. Oyo, Imo and Edo States have 48, 42 and 41. Other states are Zamfara, 2; Yobe, 3 and Jigawa, 3.