From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has blown the whistle on illegal, large scale and indiscriminate clandestine recruitments in federal ministries, department and agencies (MDAs).
A circular by the acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Dr. Habiba Lawal to the Chief of staff to the President, National Assembly, service chiefs, heads of ministries and agencies amongst others, said many MDAs have been carrying out recruitments in the guise of replacement of existing staff without following due process.
The memo is titled “Streamlining procedures for recruitment into federal agencies.”
While condemning the scam, which has led to Federal Government’s payroll ballooning, the circular warned MDAs to follow due process in their operations.
It stated that if the practices continued unabated without reference to budgetary provisions and due process, government was at risk of owing workers salaries, budget shortfalls and the threat of increasing the cost of payroll, which was already over 40 per cent of total government expenditure.
It said government has seen the need to take drastic action to arrest the situation in view of the current economic situation facing the country.
The acting SGF who frowned at the recruitments, which she said, were in flagrant disregard of rules and established procedures for recruitment in the public service, noted that the recruitments had affected the ongoing reform of the payroll and personnel cost management, as it had created ghost workers in the payroll who receive fraudulent and erroneous salaries and also perpetuated nepotism and regional imbalances in the public service.
“The attention of the President has been drawn to reports of massive and indiscriminate clandestine recruitments in federal ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) in flagrant disregard of rules and established procedures for recruitment in the public service.
“Many MDAs have been carrying out recruitments in the guise of replacement of existing staff without following due process,” she claimed.
Lawal also argued that the current ongoing reforms aimed at providing a high level assurance on the integrity of the payroll and personnel cost would be jeopardised.
The acting SGF explained that government has decided to streamline the process and procedures for recruitment and appointment into the public service in conformity with the certain guidelines.
She listed the guildlines to include: adherence to manpower budget for proposed recruitment, which must be approved by the supervising agency or ministry; obtaining of waiver to recruit from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation; appropriate budgetary provisions to accommodate the proposed recruitment and letter of clearance from the director general of the budget office of the federation to confirm budgetary provision for the proposed recruitment.
Other guidelines include approval of Federal Character Commission for the distribution of vacancies for the proposed recruitment to ensure equitable distribution of vacancies among the states; obtaining certificate of clearance for the Federal Character Commission for the recruitment; representation of the Federal Civil Service Commission as observers in the recruitment process in the ministries, representatives of the office of the head of service of the federation in other to ensure compliance with extant rules and provision of recruitment.
“In case of agencies/parasatals appropriate representation of supervising ministries and agencies to provide necessary guidance and give credibility to the exercise. Permanent secretaries and heads of extra- ministerial departments would be held personally responsible for ensuring strict compliance with this circular.
“The implementation of the provisions of the circular takes immediate effect. Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all staff and ensure strict compliance,” she stated.
The issue of illegal recruitment has become a major challenge in the country.
Many government agencies, including parstatals and ministries have been indicted in the unwholseome act.
Last year, members of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions were served lurid details on the secret recruitment in various agencies and departments of the Federal Government.
One of those ‘indicted’ for subverting due process was the Nigeria Prisons Service.
But the Comptroller General, Dr. Peter Ekpendu confessed that the Service wrote and got approvals from the Minister of Interior and Federal Character Commission to avoid the due process of advertisement.
Ekpendu was responding to a petition against him by a Prison Officer, Okere Ethelbert seeking that the prisons boss be investigated over acts of secret recruitment, lopsided promotion and also calling for an open audit of the Prisons Co-operative and Multipurpose society.
Ethelbert accused Ekpendu of secretly hiring over 2,000 people into the service and backdating their employment letters many years back to cover-up.
Ekpendu denied the figure saying they were only 605 people. He also denied backdating their appointments.
The prisons boss also claimed that what happened was ‘replacement’ and not ‘recruitment’ as alleged.