The Media, Friday night and ultimately Saturday, August 21 was awash with reports that the Federal Government had suspended Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. David Shikfu Parradang.
In a letter signed by the Director of Press, Ministry of Interior, Mr. Yusuf Isika Alhaji , the Federal Government said Parradang’s suspension was with immediate effect and indefinite. It also directed that the deputy Comptroller General of Works and Procurement Directorate take over affairs of the office.
We were not taken unawares by the sack, as we view Government’s action as an ongoing move to flush those who may be excess baggage from the system. Indications to his stepping aside, which has two accounts, became high when the Federal Government began to unravel the circumstances surrounding the issuance of a Nigerian visa to Sheik Ahmad Al- Assir, a terrorist in Lebanon.
Al- Assir is said to be a Lebanese Sunni Muslim extremist and radical cleric who was arrested by security officials at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport on Saturday, August 15, 2015 on his way to Nigeria through Cairo, Egypt. The controversial Nigerian visa was said to have been issued on a fake Palestine passport.
Although officials of the Immigration Service have attempted to absolve themselves of any complacency in the whole controversy, it further insisted that the agency does not have an Immigration Desk in Nigerian High Commission in Beirut and could not y be involved in the said visa controversy.
Regrettably, another report points to an official infraction which alleged that the suspended Mr. Parradang solely recruited no less than 300 officers into the service without recourse to budgetary provisions that will cater for the salaries and other allowances of the officers, the recruitment is also said to have been carried out without the directive from the Presidency.
According to reports quoting Presidential Spokesman, Femi Adesina, he said, “the Comptroller General was suspended for employing 300 officers without appropriate authorisation and budgetary provisions, adding that when he was queried, he failed to offer satisfactory explanation for his conduct.
However, experts in immigration and visa matters have lent various propositions to the matter, especially as it concerns the Service and the Nigerian missions abroad. In one instance, it was revealed that three agencies are involved in visa issues, namely the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, security attachés and Immigration Service. But in this case, it is reported that Nigeria has no desk at its mission in Lebanon, therefore it is obvious that the outfit didn’t know anything about Al-Alssirs visa placement.
Notwithstanding experts’ analysis on the issues, it is expedient to recall the many anomalies that have occurred under the watch of the suspended immigration boss, which is our concern. First is the continued state of our porous borders. It is also an unarguable fact that Nigeria ranks among one of the most volatile, unsecure countries in the world because of the nature of our porous borders, which the displaced immigration boss failed to do anything proactive to change. Second is the inglorious immigration recruitment, where many promising Nigerians died. We note these irregularities as not only ridiculous because they borders on insensitivity of the leadership under Parradang.
It would be recalled that Mr. Parradang’s leadership ignited a national fury last year when several young Nigerians met their untimely death in most cities across the country during the infamous immigration recruitment stampede. The exercise, which ended in futility, saw applicants parting with as much as N1, 000 to enroll online to apply for a slot in the immigration services, but it ended up being an exercise in futility. The only beneficiary would appear to be the service, which gained about N1 billion from the exercise.
As a food for thought for those saddled with leadership responsibilities in this Buhari era, time has come for heads of government agencies to lead by example, that is if they must understand the body language of President Buhari as a no-nonsense leader who will not condone or take insubordination, indiscipline for an answer. It must be noted that the current sack across the nation and in government agencies are efforts by this administration to cleanse the Augean stable as well as purge Federal Government agencies and parastatals of non-performers and obstacles to the change mantra of the current administration.
Heads of departments as it were must not only be accountable, they must also be responsive and ready to be models to their staff and subordinates and show the way through constructive and progressive initiatives. We see David Parradang’s suspension as a paradigm shift and a lesson for all to learn from.