By LEKAN BILESANMI
About 253 officers are at the centre of a promotion crisis rocking Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The officers are among the 287 in the chief narcotics agents (CNA) cadre who sat for a conversion course to the superintendent cadre in 2008, but only 30 allegedly passed and thus promoted.
The mass failure in the examination conducted by the Regional Academy for Drug Control (RADC), Jos caused disquiet in the NDLEA as it was alleged that most of the officers were deliberately failed to deny them promotion.
The officers argued that the agency’s authorities could not justify the mass failure unless they were saying the instructors who took them through the one month course at the RADC were not good. They are pleading with the Federal Ministry of Justice overseeing NDLEA to intervene and save their careers.
The officers, who were said to have been due for promotion since 2000, took the course in 2008 and subsequently sat for two examinations – conversion and promotion – but the results, it was learnt, were not released until 2010.
According to them, whereas the results should have been released within one month after the examinations, the almost two years it took to release them gave rise to the allegation that the authorities had ample time to manipulate things.
The agitation generated by the issue in the NDLEA was said to have led to the affected officers asking for their papers to be recalled and remarked but sources claimed they could not push through following threats of sanction by the authorities.
Only three of the officers “who got help”, the sources said, had their papers recalled, remarked, passed and promoted to the superintendent cadre, thus making the total number of the 287 chief narcotic agents who passed the conversion course to 33.
Ordinarily, unsuccessful officials, it was learnt, should have had a resit for the papers in which they had references and, if successful, promoted.
Whereas there was a circular from the office of the chairman/chief executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, listing new criteria for conversion/promotion from the CNA cadre to superintendent, and which abolished resit in the conversion/promotion, the circular stated that the new rule did not affect this set of officers.
“While I expect agency officers and agents to be appropriately guided, I wish to state that the guidelines shall commence from this year (2011) and do not affect officers on the rank of CNA that have participated in the previous conversion/promotion exercise”, Giade said in the circular dated 23 August, 2011.
Meanwhile, the officers said no resit examination has been arranged for them while they are not also allowed to attend the conversion/promotion course afresh.
In other words, they have stagnated since 2000, some 13 years ago. And as their fate hangs in the balance, one of the officers said some top officials of the NDLEA have used their discretion to promote some of their colleagues.
“I know of an officer who, simply because he is a personal aide to a top official of the NDLEA, benefited from discretional promotion while another got promoted because he helped to avert fire outbreak in the residence of his boss. There are many others like that. It is those of us who are not connected to the top shots in any way, i.e. those without godfathers, that have been left in the cold for 13 years”, the beleaguered officer said. Following their situation, he claimed many of those who were junior to them in the agency are now their seniors.
Describing their alleged stagnation as scandalous, the NDLEA officer said they sent a petition to the agency’s Governing Board but got no response.
Consequently, we are pleading with the ministry supervising the NDLEA, the Federal Ministry of Justice, to intervene as our careers in the agency are at stake”, he said.
The NDLEA chairman was said to be unavailable when Sunday Vanguard visited the agency’s headquarters at Ikoyi, Lagos to seek the authorities’ own side of the story.
The agency’s controversial conversion/promotion saga, it was learnt, began in 2000 when the 287 officers in the CNA cadre converged at the RADC, Jos for the one month programme.
Giade was said to have visited the academy and told the officers the examination would be in two stages – conversion and promotion to Assistant Superintendent of Narcotics II.
The arrangement was that only successful officers in the conversion examination will proceed to write the promotion segment.
Sources said the chairman/chief executive of the NDLEA bowed to the plea of the officers that the result of the conversion examination should be out within one week of writing it so that successful officers could immediately proceed to write the promotion segment.
This was to save the officers the stress of returning to their various stations across the country after the conversion examination, and coming back to the RADC, Jos later for the promotion examination.
For inexplicable reason, the result of the conversion examination, according to the sources, was not released within the agreed one week, prompting the RADC to ask all the 287 officers to proceed to write the promotion examination.
Before returning to their stations after the two examinations, the officers were reportedly addressed by the academy commandant who was said to have congratulated them on their wonderful performance.
The saga, however, took a twist when the results of both examinations not only took about two years to be released, but also only 30 officers were allegedly successful.