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By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor

The Presidency appears to have run into murky water over the choice of a substantive Commandant- General for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps following the end of tenure of the former boss of the agency, Abdullahi Mohammed Gana, earlier this month.

The crisis now rocking the paramilitary agency and may torpedo the entire process, stems from the decision of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, to introduce a new dimension into the selection of the boss of the agency against the standard practice of picking the best candidate based on the recommendation of the Civil Defence, Nigeria Correctional Service, Fire Service and Nigeria Immigration Service Board, CDCFIB.

Saturday Vanguard learnt that the minister’s action, which the board and other directors see as unprecedented in the history of the establishment, has also drawn bad blood from top officials of the agency, who fear that the minister is trying to rob them of the opportunity to be selected to head the para-military outfit and make the most out of their tenure like others before them.

It was also gathered from inside sources that while the minister is trying to establish his wish through what most officers see as a ‘questionable and strange examination’ in picking the preferred candidate, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and some influential presidential officials, would prefer the recall of the immediate past CG, Abdullahi Mohammed Gana, to run the affairs of the establishment for another two years.

The contention of those in this group of top federal government officials is that Gana still has two more years to reach retirement age of 60 years or 35 years in service: According to his record, he is 58 and has also put in less than the mandatory 35 years in service.

Trouble is however brewing arising from the attempt by highly-placed officials in the Interior Ministry and some presidential influencers who have tried to sidetrack both the recommendation of the CDCFIB and the Security Report turned in by the Department of State Services regarding the five persons they recommended for the post out of the 18 Assistant Commandants-General, ACGs, they interviewed since June 5, 2020 and the results of their performance sent to the Presidency since last year.

A very competent security source familiar with the screening, confirmed that out of  the five men, three candidates were strongly recommended for appointment as the NSCDC CG based on their performance, service records, leadership acumen, exposure to national issues and qualifications.

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A top source familiar with the process said: “After a painstaking screening process, the DSS cleared and recommended three persons it considered as the best choices to the Presidency to pick one from among them as is the usual practice.

“But strangely, the interior minister and some powerful people around him have attempted to jettison the entire process supervised by the security agency in conjunction with the CDCFIB and have now ordered that 12 Assistant Commandants-General should present themselves for another examination in order to choose one of them for the post of CG.

“This is strange, disappointing and a serious setback to the operations of the NCDSC. The government should not allow the achievements recorded by the NCDSC over the years to be washed away just because of the choice of one preferred person.

“Under the CDCFIB operations, no officer to be elevated to head any of the para-military agencies is expected to write another ‘examination’ after having climbed to their positions through their regular professional examinations and courses in line with established public service requirements,” the official explained.

Checks by Saturday Vanguard revealed that the Presidency was mulling what to do given the confusion that has trailed the exercise and cast doubts over the process and coupled with many lists of ‘qualified candidates’ sent in by interested parties.

It is contemplating either the recall of the immediate past CG, Abdullaji Gana or allowing the acting CG, Hilary Madu, some more time in order to select a substantive administrator for the troubled agency.

But many ACGs, who feel they cheated out of the selection process, alleging that the question papers for the ‘strange examination’ ordered by the ministry of Interior, were seen by some preferred persons and that they were not given equal chance of being selected.

They have already prepared a petition to be sent to the Villa to ‘properly guide’ Mr. President on what transpired in the selection process.

But Saturday Vanguard has obtained two lists of preferred candidates already forwarded to the Presidency for consideration as the new CG of the agency. One of the lists has three names: Audu Ahmed, from Nasarawa State, Ningi Ibrahim, from Bauchi and one Nwinyi Nnamdi, from one of the South-Eastern states. Also penciled down for the top post are: Rasak Olusesan from Ogun and Haruna Lawal, from Kogi.

It was not clear as at the time of going to the press, from which of  the camps the Presidency would pick its final choice.

But the grievances from those who feel shortchanged in the process, might rub the ultimate choice for the CG from getting their required cooperation, understanding, goodwill  and support.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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