Army Recruitment: Concerns as South East fails to fill quota
• Blame The Situation On Hoarding Of Information By Authorities Concerned — Uwazurike
• Officials To Interact With Enugu Stakeholders Today
• HURIWA, CLO, Security Experts Adduce Reasons For Apathy
• Seek Equal Opportunities For All Regions In Nation’s Security Agencies
Fear of ethnic and religious prejudices, inadequate equipment to prosecute assignments and hoarding of vacancies have been blamed for the inability of the South-East geo-political zone to meet its quota in the ongoing recruitment exercise in the Nigerian Army.
The Enugu State government had yesterday morning expressed worries over the inability of the state to fill its quota in previous recruitment exercises.
The government, while announcing the expected visit of a team from the Army Headquarters to the state, urged Enugu youths to take advantage of the ongoing recruitment exercise to be enrolled into the army.
A statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Information, Steve Oruruo, urged those interested to seize the opportunity and register.
The statement reads: “Sequel to the opening of the online application portal for the Nigerian Army (NA) Recruitment Exercise for the 84 Regular Recruits intake, which commenced on October 10, 2022, a team from the Nigeria Army Headquarters is slated to visit the government and people of Enugu State from November 5, 2022.
“The visit is to confer and interact with the political leadership and various stakeholders of our state regarding the observed apathy of the young men and women of our state with regard to the previously conducted recruitment exercises. Unfortunately, this has become an appalling and recurring issue adversely affecting Enugu State’s representation in the Nigerian Army according to the data emanating from the Federal Character Commission.
“Regrettably, during the recruitment exercise for the 82 and 83 Regular intakes, Enugu State contingents were only 73 and 49 people respectively as opposed to the 150 slots reserved for the state on each occasion based on the quota system.
“The consequence of today’s inaction is that in time, our dear state would obviously be unevenly represented when other personnel recruited would have progressed in service. Uninformed observers could erroneously misinterpret this scenario in future as marginalisation and imbalance in the federal character.
“To reverse this retrogressive trend therefore, a team from Army Headquarters is billed to meet with the Government of the State, the leadership of various youth organisations, socio-economic and political stakeholders, traditional rulers, town union presidents and the clergy, in order to forge a way forward to educate and enlighten the teeming youths of the state on the merits and prospects of serving the nation through the Nigerian Army.
“It is in this light that the state government hereby enjoins the good people of the state, especially our vibrant and teeming youths, to seize this golden opportunity to be recruited into the prestigious and resilient Nigerian Army. All interested persons are encouraged to speedily proceed to the Nigerian Army Recruitment Portal to submit their applications.”
It would be recalled that in January this year, a similar situation forced the Nigeria Police to extend its recruitment exercise for another 10 days in the Southeast, following the inability of the region to meet its quota.
Out of the 81,005 applications received nationwide as of January 7, 2022, 1,404 applications – less than two per cent of the total applications – were received from the five states in the South East, with Anambra State having the least figure of 158 applicants.
Lamenting the development, the Enugu State governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 2023 general election, Dr. John Nwobodo said: “It may not be unconnected to fear of ethnic and religious prejudices, which might influence the posting of recruits to areas highly vulnerable to insurgency.
“Again, the revelations in the past that Nigerian Army is not adequately equipped in terms of military hardware, arms and ammunition thereby exposing the soldiers to high risk of casualties could be a factor.”
Former Emeritus President General of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, however, blamed the situation on hoarding of information by the authorities concerned.
“It is simply preposterous. Most government officials hoard information about recruitment. Let me challenge the Enugu State government to put up a radio announcement that they want to fill the state’s quota and you will see what will happen. There are so many jobless youths on the streets of the South East, who are looking for what to do. So, they should stop saying those lies. Let them accept my challenge and see what will happen. History will someday expose all these lies against the people,” he said.
Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Ibuchukwu Ezike, said the situation was borne by “the official ethnic cleansing in the Armed Forces, including Police and DSS targeted against the Igbo.”
He added: “In the fight against Boko Haram terrorism in the North East, many young officers of Igbo extraction mostly soldiers and mobile policemen were posted to the region. Over 70 per cent of these young officers were killed in suspicious circumstances. Some of the escaped officers told terrifying stories of how senior military Fulani officers connived with Boko Haram insurgents who laid ambush against these young, gallant Igbo officers.
“There were many cases where these officers were killed in their hundreds and their families invited to the North East region to see the corpses of their husbands, relations and friends. They were not allowed to take their corpses home to be buried in the excuse that they died in active force in the defence of their fatherland. As a tradition, Ndigbo are hardly ever content with burying their own outside their territory because it is a sacrilege.”
Ezike also noted that the people of the South East have disdain for corruption, abuse of due process and the rule of law that seriously injure justice and equity.
“The boys allege that Ndigbo are not justly and fairly treated in Nigeria in the recruitment, promotion and granting of justice in the country. The case in point is the current situation in the case between the Federal Government and Onyendu Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), where the Appeal Court has discharged and acquitted Kanu of all the spurious allegations by the Federal Government but he is still held in DSS custody in total disobedience to the court order. The implication of this ugly narrative is the loss of confidence and hope in Nigeria at the moment by Igbo youths and even some elders,” he said.
For Mr. Frank Oshanugor, a security expert, “the apathy amongst South East youths in joining the military is obviously precipitated by the experience of how the south easterners in the military and other security agencies have been marginalised over the years. They do not seem to have the belief that the situation would change anytime soon.”
National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, also said: “The reason is simple! The systematic sidelining of South East, since eight years now from any sort of positions to head any of the segments of the nation’s security agencies by President Muhammadu Buhari has created wide chasm between the youths of South East and the military institutions.
“People of South East and especially the youngsters have deep rooted perception that Igbos are really not wanted in Nigeria and that President Buhari has done massive damage to Igbos by marginalising them beyond any rational limits.
“Secondly, the failure of the Nigerian State to locate any strategic military assets in the South East and the siting of over 75 per cent of the nation’s very critical assets in the North West has succeeded in creating the impression that only the Muslim North are entitled to hold important command positions in the Nigerian Army.
“A lot would have to be done to debunk these impressions and the President is responsible for these perceptions. Sadly, the Army is not doing anything to bridge the gap between the youths of South East of Nigeria and the military. The gross abuses of the fundamental human rights of Igbo youths by security forces must change as a formal step towards winning hearts and minds of the people.”
“My general advice to Igbo youths is that they should not despair, but be optimistic because the regime of President Buhari will come to an end imminently and if a good leader emerges then the Armed Forces will truly be reformed and restructured to become truly nationalistic and not tribalistic as this current administration has tainted and mismanaged the military.”
Also weighing in on the issue, another security expert, Christopher Oji, said his findings showed that youths of the zone were afraid of being used to wage war against terrorism.
“It is not only in the military; the situation is the same even in the Police. Recently, former Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman, IGP Musiliu Smith (rtd) was on tour to the East and West, begging people to join the Force. I tried to find out why youths have refused to join the armed forces, especially the military.
“In my findings, they told me unequivocally that this is not the best time to be patriotic and die in the hands terrorists who are wasting the military away. They alleged that commanders, who are majorly from the North, deliberately send people from the East and West to the war to die.
“They claimed that those commanders from the North hate their colleagues from the West and were killing them by sending them to the war front to die. They also believe that there is serious discrimination in the Armed Forces and the Police where less educated colleagues are always given special promotion ahead of them because of quota system.
“The reintegration of repentant insurgents who have killed many soldiers into the Army is pointer that the government is deliberately slaughtering the troops who are always at the mercy of the insurgents. An average easterner is very intelligent and he or she analyses the trend of things and is calculating how many of their people in the Army were brought home for burial and how many that have been declared missing while fighting the insurgents. So, it will be difficult for them to join the military when they know that the repentant insurgents who are in the Army are sabotaging the military,” Oji said.
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