Goodluck Jonathan’s Last-Minute Appointments Tear Civil Service Apart

THE crisis in the federal civil service appeared to have worsened with career civil servants protesting against the absorption of 530 aides and cronies of former President Goodluck Jonathan into the civil service in the last days of the past administration.

The new recruits into the service were also said to have been installed in high positions, from assistant directors upward.

Already, six deputy directors in the federal civil service are in court to protest against the manner the last promotion examination to directors’ level was handled by the Federal Civil Service Commission.

The FCSC released the list of newly-promoted directors in October 2014.

The six aggrieved deputy directors – Dr. John Magbadelo, Mrs. Ada Ihechukwu Madubuike, Mrs. Ganiat Ayodele, Mr. Olusegun Oginni, Mrs. Janet Ayorinde and Mr. Otajele Musa – filed an action at the National Industrial Court on March 26, 2015 to question the exercise.

Most senior civil servants are said to be unhappy with the FCSC, a situation which is said to have been made worse by the Jonathan recruits into the service.

Sources told The PUNCH in Abuja on Sunday that between the time Jonathan lost the presidential election of April 11 and the May 29 handover date, 530 persons from different backgrounds had their appointments into the civil service regularised.

A director in one of the sensitive ministries told our correspondent that the FCSC, through ‘‘crafty schemes’’, brought into the civil service “numerous aides of the former President Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo and ministers.

The director, who asked not to be named, said, “These new recruits are placed on very high grades as assistant directors, deputy directors, and directors.

It was gathered from a reliable source that their appointments were made through a “regularisation window’’, which the FCSC backdated to December, 2014.

“Through regularisation, fresh graduate appointees were placed on Grade Level 12 instead of Grade Level 08, while some others were upgraded to very high levels in defiance of extant rules. We now have letters of regularisation flying around the ministries.

“No fewer than 530 people are being regularised into the service from different backgrounds, including unscheduled private enterprises. These atrocities are responsible for the depletion of vacancies, which ought to be utilised for the promotion of deserving serving officers in the federal civil service.”

Another aggrieved director in one of the parastatals under the Presidency said that the FCSC had, in the last six years, been under serious pressure by ranking politicians, who insisted on giving jobs in the civil service as rewards to their cronies.

The director cited the case of one political appointee, who was allegedly moved from Grade Level 09 to Grade level 16, and subsequently moved three months after to the post of director on Salary Grade Level 17.

He said this was just one of the many recent irregularities perpetrated by the FCSC, “while the chairman of the FCSC, Deaconess Joan Ayo, keeps saying that lack of vacancy was responsible for the non-promotion of most deputy directors who passed last year’s promotion examination.”

“Just anybody with the right connection or big purse can be promoted or transferred to the post of a director in the civil service today. These transfers are being done in violation of the extant public service rules, which the FCSC published and circulated to all government offices,” the official alleged.

Many of the directors, who spoke to our correspondent on the alleged rot in the civil service, called for the review of both the promotion exercise and “illegal” recruitment into the high cadre in the government offices.

But the FCSC has denied the allegation, saying it never recruited illegally into the civil service.

The Assistant Director of Press, FCSC, Dr. Joel Oruche, said the allegations of illegal recruitment for political reasons were all lies.

Oruche said, “At no time did the commission employ aides of former President, Vice President, ministers or any key political figure in the Jonathan’s government, either as a parting gift or in compliance with a directive from the above-mentioned political figures.

“The FCSC, in the discharge of its mandate, has put in place, internal checks and balances in the process of appointments and promotion. This guarantees transparent process that checkmates activities and antics of fraudsters, who are in the business of issuing fake appointment letters.

“For the avoidance of doubts, FCSC begins appointments only when the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation has forwarded vacancies to it. These declared vacancies are shared among the 36 states of the federation and the FCT. Appointments into the vacant positions are processed by honourable commissioners representing respective states.

“After processing the appointments by commissioners, all appointment letters are checked and signed by the director in charge of recruitment and appointment while the Office of the Permanent Secretary puts the commission’s seal on the letters.”

However, the Secretary-General of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Mr. Alade Lawal, confirmed that there had been rampant cases of illegal recruitment into the civil service.

Lawal said the FCSC had bastardised the recruitment process into the service on the spurious ground that it was acting on directive from the Presidency to grant waiver to some states.

He said, “But the commission cannot hide under a Presidential waiver to recruit incompetent and unqualified persons into the federal public service and impose them as seniors on those with higher qualifications, experience and competence. We have never had it so bad.

“One of the negative results of this ill-advised policy is that directors, who have served the country meritoriously for decades, cannot rise to the peak of their careers as all manner of persons are recruited into the service to take over top positions, including that of permanent secretaries and general managers.”

The ASCSN secretary lamented that graduates with eight years post-qualification experience were being drafted into the public service on grade level 16 or 17 because they have connections with top politicians.

“These illegal recruits are then made permanent secretaries after about two or three years. This is very unfortunate as it demoralises dedicated officers who no longer see any future in the service. The ASCSN has engaged the FCSC on the vexed issue and all indications point to the fact that the recruitments were deliberately made,” Lawal stated.

He also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent steps to ensure that the FCSC abide by the public service rules, establishments circulars, scheme of service, and its guidelines on appointment, promotion and discipline in respect of recruitment into the public service.

“If urgent step is not taken to reverse this trend of illegal recruitment into the public service, the system may collapse and the government will not be able to effect the type of change it wants in the polity since the public service is the engine room that oils the wheels of government.”

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