By Ibrahim Abdullahi
For the past two years or more, the Police Service Commission and the Inspector-General of Police in Nigeria have been at logger-heads on who has the powers to recruit fresh police personnel into the Nigeria Police.
The matter is so serious that it could not be resolved. It became a legal tussle where one of the combatants took the other to Court. While the matter rages on, the outcome of the earlier legal-battle notwithstanding, fresh tussle has started over the matter with the issue said to be at the Supreme Court for adjudication.
As an HR Professional and a Public Administrator who served in the Public Service for 35 years before retiring voluntarily, I believe this matter ought not to have gone to the level of litigation since the ‘combatants’ are serving the same Federal Government.
Such a matter should not go beyond the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. The office is the custodian of rules and regulations on civil service procedure. Any matter bothering on law that is not clear to the Head of Service of the Federation (HOSF), the Federal Ministry of Justice could be invited to throw more lights on the matter in accordance with law.. Any resolution at this level should suffice. A situation where such a matter goes to Court is not good at all.
The Nation parades a number of Institutes including those established by the Federal Governments. Aside from our Universities that teach Public Administration, Policy and Strategic Studies, we have Public Service Institute of Nigeria as well as National Institute Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) based in Kuru, near Jos – Plateau State. With these array of Educational Institutions and Public Service Institutions that we parade, taking this simple matter to the Court of Law is highly embarrassing.
This however would not prevent me from giving my views on the matter. Now, there is what is known as ‘delegated authority’as regards recruitment into the Public Service in Nigeria. This referred to appointments that could be made by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) subject to vacancies as may be provided for in the Annual Budget. Such appointments are that of Grade Level 01 to Grade Level 06. These appointments as delegated as they are, the Office of Head of Service must give ‘go ahead’ to it before it is conducted by MDAs and Federal Civil Service Commission and HOSF must be represented in the recruitment exercise to be conducted by the Ministries, so as to ensure that relevant laws, rules and regulations as well as policy guidelines are complied with.
The second stage of recruitment is the one conducted by Statutory Bodies such as Federal Civil Service Commission, Police Service Commission and States Civil Service Commision among others for graduates who finished and certificated by Higher Institutions. In the Federal Civil Seviice Commission for example, recruitment of officers from Grade Level 07 above are made, and this cut across all Federal Ministries and Departments – as none of them have powers to recruit staff beyond Grade Level 06 officers. They are to submit to FCSC their requests for recruitment of certain categories of officers and back it up with approvals in the Annual Budgets for those recruitments. The Statutory Bodies mentioned in this paragraph are also responsible for promotion, discipline, secondment and retirement of the officers in that categories among other responsibilities.
It therefore follows that when opportunity presents itself for police recruitment, the Police Service Commission (PSC) should give the Inspector-General of Police the power to recruit Secondary Certificate / GCE holders as well as Teachers who have Certificates below NCE to be recruited by Police Force Headquarters, who could also delegate the States Commissioners of Police across the Federation to do same in line with established guidelines. These are incoming recruits who would still be trained in the Police Training Schools before being qualified to be enrolled as policemen.
As for NCE holders and Graduates of various disciplines, their recruitment ought to be conducted directly by the Police Service Commission (PSC) of which the Inspector-General of Police is also a member statutorily. I therefore find it difficult to believe that these simple guidelines are being dragged between the two Bodies.
In this era of overwhelming insecurity across the Federation, dragging this sensitive issue is to say the least unexpected and uncalled for. As the Nation moves gradually to the commencement of political campaigns in preparation for the 2023 General Elections, it is getting too late to bring on board more police personnel to help in maintaining security and dealing with any upsurge of insecurity driven by personal interests and youth restiveness.
I therefore appeal to the ‘combatants’ most who are veterans in policing by virtue of their background and experience to ‘sheath their swords’ and get back to their real duties and responsibilities instead of wasting time and financial resources on baseless legal tussle on who and who have powers to do what.
*Abdullahi,FCIPM, is a HR Practitioner, Retired Director from Kwara State Public Service & Fellow, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM)