Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
Stakeholders in Ebonyi State have expressed worry over the low turnout of youths in the recent recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Police.
The Police had commenced recruitment into its rank and file junior cadre across the country to shore up its staff base which has been said to be inadequate to police the rising population of the country.
But the Police Service Commission in a statement recently regretted that states in the South-East recorded low participation.
While Ebonyi Government blamed the poor turnout to the recent security challenges plaguing the zone some youths who spoke with Ikengaonline blamed the situation on poor remuneration and non-attractiveness of the junior cadre to the business inclined youths of the state and region.
The Ebonyi State Government has described the low turnout of its citizens in the recruitment exercise into the Police Force as unfortunate.
Commissioner for Information, Jude Chikadibia Okpor, stated this in Abakaliki, capital of the state.
According to him, the State Governor, Francis Nwifuru, frowned at the development and ordered ramping up of campaigns to get the youths to key into the programme.
He said his Ministry working with the Police, NGOs, Christian Association of Nigeria and other stakeholders carried out massive sensitisation workshops.
He said: “It is an unfortunate situation. We made serious efforts to change the narrative. We initiated a lot of sensitisation and public enlightenment down to the communities to get our people to take advantage of the opportunities.
“We took a lot of steps, we even partnered with faith-based organisations like CAN, the traditional rulers and town union leaderships.
“We also partnered with the Police. We appeared on radio programmes jointly with the Police to talk about the issue,” he said.
He expressed hope that there would be an improvement in the number of recruitment when the final enrollment data is released.
“When we got the information and started acting on it, the number from Ebonyi was below a thousand. We expect an improvement when the final figures are released,” he said.
Group blasts PSC Boss, Arase
Meanwhile, a socio-political group, Worried Nigerian Citizens, (WNC) has lashed out at the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, (PSC), Solomon Arase, urging him to cease from cajoling South-East youths into joining the Nigeria Police Force.
The group insisted that it was unpatriotic of the PSC Chairman to opine that South-East youths were “embracing anti-government criminal gangs.”
It further added that it was unethical, preposterous and unconscionable for the retired Inspector General of Police to maintain such a stance.
Convener of WNC, Comrade Moses Idika, said this in a statement in Abakaliki, capital of the state.
He said: “The attention of Worried Nigerian Citizens, (WNC), has been drawn to a statement credited to the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, PSC, retired IGP Solomon Arase, where he was quoted to have said that South-East youths were “embracing anti-government criminal gangs.
“The statement, issued by Mr. Ikechukwu Ani, Head, Press and Public Relations of the PSC on Sunday, 19th November, 2023 on behalf of Mr. Arase, is most unfortunate and we strongly condemn it as it is divisive, unethical, preposterous, unconscionable, and direct affront on the sensibility of the oppressed Nigerian youths at large.
“The statement credited to Mr Arase is a subtle justification of the brutalisation and harassment of the youth and people of the South-East by security forces, especially operatives of the Nigeria Police.
“Arase, who has resorted to name-calling and outright negative-profiling of South-East youths in his effort to bludgeon and blackmail them into joining the constable cadre of the Nigeria Police, should be reminded that joining any government institution is by choice and not by force.
“While stakeholders, leaders and the people of the South-East continue to call on school leavers in the region to apply for the police job first as a way of mitigating the pervasive unemployment in the region, and as a way of affirming their patriotism, it must also be noted that they have to be given the assurances of inclusion in the recruitment process.
“It is not lost on Nigerians that youths of the South-East have been schemed out in recruitment into various federal establishments, a situation that has largely left them with shaken confidence in the system.
“Mr Arase is working hard to compel young school leavers in the South-East to apply to be recruited into the rank and file within the Police, whereas several officers from the South-East, who are well qualified for promotions and appointments are ignored in the same force, just like in other federal agencies and especially the armed forces.”
Insisting that it is “important to remind Arase that his commission or any agency of the Federal Government has never been in the habit of forcing young Nigerians to apply for ‘juicy’ federal jobs.”
Comrade Idika added, “We have not heard the likes of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS; Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC; Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC; Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR; Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, etc calling on young Nigerians to apply for jobs in their establishments.
“We, therefore, call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call Mr. Arase to order to stop the negative profiling and tagging of South-East youths.
“Nigeria is currently divided along ethnic lines due to the behaviour, unguided and unguarded utterances of the likes of Mr Arase, who has arrogated to themselves the right to classify Nigerians and their behaviour along ethnic and regional lines, even when such classifications are squarely rooted in crass prejudices and lies.
“South-East youths are noted for their strong work ethics, industry and quest to succeed in their jobs or businesses.
“The unfortunate security situation in the South-East is more traceable to the neglect and oppression of the agencies like the Nigeria Police in the region and should never be an excuse for Arase and his likes to negatively tag and profile young people in the South-East.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria must as a matter of urgency device and create programmes and policies that will give South-East and indeed all Nigerian youths the confidence, not just to join the police, but believe in a future in Nigeria as citizens.”, he said.
Why Ebonyi youths are reluctant to join
Mr Okpor blamed the security situation in the region as a major factor why the youths are reluctant to join the force.
“I think one of the major issues is this issue of insecurity. We tried to let them know that Ebonyi is one of the most secure states in the South-East. There have been very low incidents of attack on Police in the state compared to other states in the region
“We also tried to let them know that if they don’t enrol, the slot for the state will be filled up with people from other regions,” he said.
For Mr Idika, apart from the insecurity crisis in the region, the youths are reluctant because they don’t see the junior cadre as economically viable.
“Historically our youths don’t really like the junior cadre. We have lots of candidates in the cadet level but for the rank and file they are not really interested.
“The youths have lost interest in the process believing that the recruitment is not done on merit anymore but on the connection you may have.
“Also, an average South-East school leaver will prefer to go and learn a trade because they believe it is a faster way for economic success,” he said.
Deputy Police Public Relations Officer for Ebonyi state, Grace Nzie when contacted noted that the final figures of the recruitment exercise for the state have not been released from the portal.
“When we get it, we will make it available to the public,” she said.