The controversy which trailed the botched exercise stemming from visible administrative lapses and widespread irregularities in its conduct led to the blanket reversal of the job offers to two thousand (2000) Nigerians, even before Babandede was appointed as Immigration helmsman.
The nullification of the jobs previously offered to them had forced the affected candidates to stage several protests to the federal ministry in charge of Immigration and the National Assembly, among others. Sequel to these protests and petitions most of which pre-dated his assumption of office as Comptroller General, Babandede made a strong case for possible review of the stance of the Ministry of Interior and the board responsible for recruitment into the Service. This, according to him, was borne out of the great need to douse the increasing tension being generated by the development with its manifest adverse implications for the prevailing tenuous peace in the country.
With his intervention, the CDFIPB has granted approval for the exercise to be revisited and the candidates have undergone proper screening and profiling. As the Comptroller General is widely known for being a stickler for due process, no one is in doubt that he would religiously insist on not short-changing candidates who satisfied laid down and acceptable criteria as “proper and fit persons” to join the Service. In other words, those who meet relevant prescriptions by extant laws, particularly the Immigration Act of 2015 and the guidelines for appointment into the Service issued by CDFIPB, will have no cause to fear provided available vacancies are backed by necessary budgetary provisions. It is of great essence that the board and Immigration Service will only recruit the number of candidates that can be sustained in the face of the lean budget for staff salaries.
Everyone knows that, with the current frightening downturn in the nation’s economy, government at all levels is naturally wary of engaging fresh hands without first making adequate guarantee for payment of their emoluments and other entitlements. Thus, there is also serious concern of NIS authorities for the payment of salaries, on a sustainable basis, of those that may be needed to join the agency.
The most interesting thing here, however, is that the administration of Muhammad Babandede has provided the affected Nigerians the opportunity to have their cases reconsidered. At the end of the day, those who are roundly qualified may have their jobs back; thereby fleeing from the frustrations that characterize the world of unemployment. This will certainly be a huge relief and source of joy to the lucky ones and their families. All these are bound to happen because a responsive and compassionate leader is in charge at NIS. No wonder the Holy Bible is emphatic when it proclaims that people rejoice when the righteous is on the throne.
Meanwhile, it was this same Babandede, as Deputy Comptroller General of Immigration, who averted the looming disaster that would have occurred during the tragic and aborted Immigration recruitment exercise of Saturday, 15th March, 2014. He had supervised the exercise at the Lagos centre, which, despite being the most volatile, with unprecedented attendance, recorded no fatalities, as he had envisaged danger and simply taken the proactive measure of calling off the exercise. Thus, his centre was the only examination venue without breakdown of order and the concomitant loss of lives and any record of those who sustained varying degrees of injury. Yet, the Lagos centre was one place everyone expected would record unprecedented fatalities during the ill-fated recruitment exercise. This strange and highly baffling feat was only made possible by the responsive, proactive and visionary leadership traits of the current Immigration helmsman.
Babandede has, within approximately three months of being in the saddle at NIS clearly proven to his officers and men, as well as the generality of Nigerians that the Service is in competent hands. He has raised the bar not only of efficiency and excellence, but of equity and fair-play in this relatively short span. Even as the Service personnel are witnessing and feeling his impact as a very compassionate leader, one will prefer to reserve for another day his commendable accomplishments which they have benefitted prominently. For now, let us hope that the nation is yet to enjoy the laudable ideas, actions, services and style of this dynamic, diligent, passionate and compassionate boss of NIS.
—Olumba is a former NIS PRO