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28.08.2021 Feature Army Leaves New DSSC Recruits Stranded Six Months after Screening

Published 28th Aug, 2021

By Tola Owoyele

In August 2020, the Nigerian Army advertised the recruitment of candidates for the Direct Short Service Commission (DSSC) for the year 2021 and young people from all over the country obtained recruitment forms.

One of such candidates was Mukhtar (not real name), who scaled many hurdles during the screening process and therefore resigned from his former job.

“On November 16, 2020, we were invited for a written exam,” Mukhtar told FIJ. “After that, successful candidates were invited to the Nigerian Army Fitness Centre, Falgore Forest, Kano State, for the second stage of the screening process. The screening was to begin on February 1, 2021.”

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Although the recruitment process started under Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai as Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), the Army witnessed a shake-up that enthroned the late Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru as the new CoAS five days before the commencement of the screening in Falgore Forest.

The exercise got the blessing of the new army chief and went on as planned.

The shabby accommodation at Falgore Forest

“The screening that was held in Falgore Forest was such a trying one for all the candidates,” said Mukhtar. “The accommodation they gave us was nothing to write home about. Perhaps because the centre was in a forest. The food they served us was also very horrible.”

At the end of the screening exercise in the forest, Mukhtar made the final list, while several others didn’t.

“Normally, two weeks after the screening in Falgore Forest, successful candidates would be invited to go for training at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji, Kaduna State,” he said. “However, since February when those who did not make the list were asked to leave, we’ve not heard anything from the Nigerian Army. We are now in the sixth month.”

On March 12, when rumours spread that the screening exercise had been cancelled, the Nigerian Army issued a statement to debunk the claim. However, it said nothing about when it would invite successful candidates for training.

The statement by the Nigerian Army

The frustration suffered by Mukhtar and his other colleagues was heightened when, on March 26, successful Short Service Commission (SSC) candidates who concluded their training two weeks earlier were told to resume training in April.

“Since then, the Nigerian Army has been silent. They have refused to tell us whether the enlistment process has been cancelled or not,” the applicant said.

“It has been six months and rumours have been flying around that the process has been cancelled. Some even said Lt. Gen. Buratai had embezzled the money meant for the process. Some also said the late Lt. Gen. Attahiru was not ready to sustain the process because of the many rifts he had with his predecessor.”

According to Mukhtar, the silence of the Nigerian Army on the issue has led to depression for some of his colleagues. It has also led to stagnation for others.

“For now, we can’t tell whether we have been enlisted and would assume training or not. Candidates are tired. The Army are not even bothered about the plight of people that have spent time and resources, hoping they would be enlisted.

“Let me use myself as an example. I resigned my appointment when I passed the screening in Falgore Forest, expecting that my call up to Jaji would soon materialise. I’ve however been stagnant ever since. Also, I don’t know whether I should start looking for another job, or continue to hope that I would get a call-up.”

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Mukhtar told FIJ that the candidates, especially the ones who belong in the same formation, have been forming WhatsApp group chats, trying to encourage one another while hoping for a positive response from the Army.

When FIJ contacted the Nigerian Army Public Relations Office, an official who did not want to be named said the exercise had not been cancelled but she could not state when the shortlisted candidates would be invited to training.

Published 28th Aug, 2021

By Tola Owoyele

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