Criminals in MDAs - The Nation

By The Citizen

The statement credited to Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), National Security Adviser (NSA), that many people with criminal antecedents occupy strategic positions in various Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) is troubling. Dasuki, through Layiwola Laseinde, director, policy and strategy of the NSA's office spoke at a one-day workshop on the 'Importance of Security Awareness Drills in Contemporary Nigeria',  organised by the Special Services Office (SSO), Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), in Abuja.

The NSA was unsparing when he affirmed: 'We want to make sure that people of dubious character are not employed. In some areas, you find out that people have committed crimes and once they have criminal background, they are likely to perpetrate death. I am not saying it is in all cases, but majority of the cases. So the government, especially the security agencies … want to make sure that each agency does its own in-house screening to screen out undesirable people …Government cannot afford for agencies to have staff with criminal record and that is the purpose of this workshop, that those who are trained can go and train other people and also organise their parastatals and agencies to ensure that in terms of personal record and discipline, everything is okay.''

We know that it is government that employs presumably qualified Nigerians into positions in these MDAs, not the Nigerian public. So, we expect the government, through its numerous security agencies that Dasuki, as NSA, oversees, to have routinely been effectively discharging their job of ensuring that men and women of shady background do not get employed in the MDAs or any other strategic institutions in the country. But it seems that the NSA office is getting to know too late that the country's MDAs harbour a lot of misfits. The fault is that of the NSA and he should take urgent steps to correct this sad trend.

We now understand why there have been so many leakages in the system; it could not have been different in a place that harbours employees with criminal background. Any system that suffers from high moral standing cannot be a reliable custodian of values of a promising society; and that is what the Nigerian system currently suffers from. The primary constitutional duty of government is the security and welfare of the citizenry and there is no doubt that having people of questionable background in government MDAs constitutes a serious threat to the discharge of this responsibility.

Definitely, some drastic steps must be taken. And we expect to see cogent results from the promised vulnerability assessment initiative of MDAs by the NSA through the Department of State Services (DSS). So far, result of the touted routine inspection of MDAs by the Security Inspection Committee in order to ensure compliance with security regulations as they affect the safety of government's personnel, documents and facilities has not been felt.

NSA Dasuki must realise that the task ahead is onerous and can only be accomplished with commitment and sincerity of purpose from government, especially its security agencies headed by his office. The entire process of employment in the MDAs and other strategic institutions has to be overhauled to block existing recruitment loopholes. Also, a tight security process must be designed to weed out misguided elements in the system.