When it was a few days to the close of the application for the Police recruitment, which was thrown open to the public by the Nigerian Police Commission on April 1 2016, a huge number of 843, 008 applicants or rather job seekers have signified their interest to the join the Nigerian Police Force. The exercise is scheduled to end on May 13, 2016.
What is most incomprehensible is the fact that the Force is only in need of 10, 000 personnel categorized under the following positions – 500 cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), 500 cadet inspectors, 1, 500 specialists officers, 7, 500 constables. These numbers are expected to met President Mohammadu Buhari’s approved 10, 000 new entrants into the Police Force.
As events stand presently, out of the over 800, 000 applications received, 243, 327 are seeking employment as Assistant Superintendent of Police; 197 990 are looking towards becoming Inspectors while 401, 691 applied for the position of Constables. This much was confirmed by the Head, Press and Public Relations, Police Service Commission, Mr. Ikechukwu Ani.
It is not hard to imagine that all these people who applied for the positions may have just wasted their time, as the recruitment may have selected those it felt are eligible based on the release of quotas given to various individuals or organizations as regards the filling of positions in the Nigerian Police recruitment exercise.
In responding to the huge number of applicants, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, said that there is no way all the applicants can be absorbed, considering that the President had ordered for only 10, 000 new entrants. He went ahead to outline the process of elimination which will see a lot of the applicants dropping out during the selection exercise, citing age as one of the critical points to be considered in eliminating candidates. And added to age are also educational qualification, height among other criteria.
“Some of those people uploading their credentials on the website now are 30 to 34 (years old) and they are too old. We will not take all those ones. They must adhere to the criteria given.
“Do not be bothered with over 800,000 that have applied, a lot of them will be knocked out when the system starts the sorting process, and there will also be exams which will be done at state level.”
Arase said the new intakes would be trained with stun guns to check the rate at which innocent Nigerians get killed by policemen, adding that the non-lethal weapons had been ordered.
Arase’s assessment is a clear indication that a lot is left to be desired considering employment processes in the country while the number of applicants suggest the depth of joblessness that has engulfed the nation.
The Police recruitment brings to mind the 2014 Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment exercise where thousands of Nigerians applied for jobs meant for a few, and some of them died in the process of undertaken the exercise at various stadia across the country. The police exercise differs from the Immigration story in that while the Immigration under Abba Moro, undertook an open recruitment where applicants were expected to appear at common place, the Police exercise cleverly used the internet medium. But the aftermath of both exercises reveals that the country is facing a serious employment crisis.
However, a human right campaigner, Mr. Adio Lawal, told The Boss that the number reflected in the applicants’ list is not a true story of the unemployment situation, saying majority of those who applied are already gainfully employed, but either need a new adventure or seek a job that somehow guarantees security.
“We should not be alarmed at the number of applicants who seek to join the Police Force. This number does not in any way reflect the people who are jobless as many of them are already gainfully employed. Some of them seek a new adventure, better paying vocation, or just want a job that can guarantee permanence as it is always said that government jobs have a level of security,” Lawal said.
He observed that though the rush to join the Police Force has nothing to do with unemployment as the case could be, it must be overlooked that the matter may be not be unconnected with the massive corruption in the force as the police are known to acquire wealth wherever they are opportune to mount road blocks, anywhere matters that need settlement are involved.
“However, we must not overlook the fact that the Police, alleged to be corrupt, make easy money, and that may be an attraction to those running to it. We must not also forget that policemen don’t pay for most services among the civilian population, especially fares within the metropolis. It is therefore, possible that these incentives are drawing people from their jobs to join the force. Let’s not also forget the influence of uniform in this country; it commands utmost respect,” he added.
In his own view, Ayodele Odumosu, a Public Affairs Consultant, based on the Lagos Island believe that we see as recruitment is a case of the more you look, the less you see, saying that as at now, those that will make the Police are already known even before the exercise started. He pointed out the culture of allocating slots to individuals in the society has made any recruitment exercise untenable. According to him, most of the public officers, especially among the Police rank and file, have been slots to fill, adding that there is a possibility that those they will present may not meet the standard.
“There is something attached to recruitments in this country, and that is the allocation of slots to officers, traditional rulers, captains of industrialists, top flight journalists, high level educationists among others. This allocation has made it difficult for the qualified to get through, and there is no possibility that those who may be given the opportunity are suitable. And that is how they will get there, and lose focus. The competition should be open, and devoid of any form of favouritism. Mark my words, no ordinary citizen, who has no godfather will make the final list, no matter how qualified,” Odumosu said.