Enugu residents have revealed why they are not interested in joining the Nigerian Army.
The revelation comes after the army stated that residents of the state are yet to fill their employment quota.
It was a moment of frank discussions as the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS) Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya interfaced with indigenes of Enugu State over their lack of interest in enlisting into the Army.
The Army Chief, represented Major Gen. Ola Oyelade from the Personnel Dept. Nigerian Army, went round the three Senatorial zones of the State with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, where they held a dialogue with all the stakeholders, including the traditional rulers.
On the entourage was also the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Major Gen. Umar Musa, represented by the Garrison Commander.
Without mincing words, the indigenes said they were no longer interested as the recruitment process, postings and promotions in the Armed Forces were against Ndigbo.
Governor Ugwuanyi told people of the State during the visit that the State was ready to offer the necessary support to the indigenes who are interested in enlisting into the Army.
“We can’t stay out of the system; we must be part of the security architecture; the essence of this meeting is to encourage our people because last year, we could not meet our quota. Let us talk to our people and encourage them to be part of the system,” he advised.
He assured that the State Government would provide all the assistance to interested indigenes.
DAILY POST reports that the issues were the same at the three venues, with the indigenes decrying what they called “skewed recruitment, posting and promotion processes in the Nigerian Armed Forces.”
The first point of call was in Nsukka Local Government where the delegation interacted with the people of Enugu North Senatorial Zone. From there, they proceeded to Awgu and held discussions with the indigenes of Enugu West Senatorial zone and later Agbani in Nkanu West for Enugu East Senatorial zone.
It was the same reasons at the three venues, with the indigenes saying they would not show interest until the Military authorities changed their attitude towards the people of the South-East zone.
The Army Chief had lamented that for three years running, Enugu State had been unable to meet the quota allocated to it for the recruitment process.
He said the last recruitment was worse with the State only able to produce 49 persons out of the 150 slots allocated to it.
He said, “That is why we are here to find out why your people are not interested. The Federal Government and the Federal Character Commission ensures that national institutions, including the Army, takes into cognisance all sections of the country. The FG makes sure that the recruitment is evenly distributed.
“Enugu State has not been faring well. The State is supposed to produce 150 candidates during the recruitment process but it is not happening. The one before the last, they had 76 as against 150, then the last one was even worse as they had only 49.
“What it means is that as we go along, as we grow in the system, when you are not where they are cooking, what is left will be given to you. We are here to interact and find out why you are not joining.
“The Army is a place for everyone, where you can pursue your dream.”
“We want to encourage you to key into the recruitment; the more number you have during the screening process, the higher your chances of meeting up with the quota. The more people you have during the promotion process, also guarantees you more opportunities.
“But if you don’t meet the quota, the Army will have no option than to give the slots to other States with reserved numbers,” he stated.
He announced that the on-going recruitment process was for tradesmen and non-tradesmen, stressing that all was required was 3 passes in O’Level and medical test.
However, the indigenes of Enugu State, who opened up to the Army Chief, said there was grave injustice against Ndigbo.
In Awgu Local Government Area, a traditional ruler, His Royal Highness, Wing Commander, J. O. Okeke, Rtd., told a sad story of how he was unjustly denied promotion and retired from the Military, vowing that he would never encourage none of his subjects to enlist into the Nigeria Armed Forces.
According to him, “the discrimination being meted to the South-Easterners in the military is a major probelm. There is no way I will allow my own children or relatives into the military because of my personal experiences in the military.
“I mentioned that in our final examination I was number three; except me, the other seven were made Generals in the Air Force; how would they explain that? I was given an appointment but within six months they retired me after 22 years in service.
“I am happy that the Army has realised themselves and are now sending people to go and find us, but they know the reason. Treat everybody equally and people will now embrace the Armed Forces.”
Other speakers at the three venues told the delegation that Ndigbo were reluctant to join the Military owing to bad treatment they were receiving in terms of recruitment, postings and promotion.
“Even those who indicate interest are not given the opportunity; they will be tactically screened out
“How can we join the Army only to be posted to war zones in the North-East, whereas those of them from that part of the country would be shifted here in the South.
“Our people are also hardly considered for promotions but are allowed to stagnate in certain ranks. Even those who manage to rise are quickly retired,” they told the Army Chief.
Meanwhile, speaking to journalists after the meeting, Oruruo, the Governor’s representative, said the Army should do a fact-check on the revelations made by the people of the State and take necessary measures.
He said, “The Army Chief has heard from our people. It was the same message in each of the zones.
“It is an aberration that Enugu State has been shortchanged in terms of the quota. We want Ndi Enugu to be part of the leadership of the military.
“They have raised pertinent questions today and it behoves on the military to do some kind of rejigging and rethinking within the hierarchy, to probe the conscience of the military and find out if those assertions are true, and if they are true, then something must be done about it.”
The representative of the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army, who was also part of the delegation, pleaded with the people of the State to assist the Army with information on criminals.
While noting that Enugu remained one of the safest States in the country, he urged the residents not to allow the State lose that status.
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