At the just concluded Face the Press program organized by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Affairs, Hon. Emmanuel Bello, last week, journalists from all backgrounds and organizations were on ground to ask the Chairman of the Taraba Civil Service Commission, Hon. Fidelis Kaigama some questions.
Below, you will find the questions asked and the answers given. The discourse will help you know how hard the current government has been trying to restore sanity and leave a legacy.
- Question: Why have people not been promoted for the past 5 years?
Chairman: Promotion is always based on the recommendation of your Ministry or agency. Anyone who has not been promoted for the past five years should go and find out from their Ministry where the problem lies.
- Question: Why have people who purchased recruitment forms from the Civil Service Commission up to four times never been invited for an interview?
Chairman: Have the past sales of forms been advertised? Have their vacancies been advertised? If not, then you need to forget about it. Since 1991, Taraba state Civil service Commission has never done any official recruitment. Only the current sale and recruitment of forms is authorized and genuine.
- Question: Is there any plan for the refund of money used to purchase previous Civil Service forms?
Chairman: Whenever forms are sold, the money is normally transferred to government treasury and used; and not kept by the Commission. As a result, no one should expect any refunds whatsoever.
- Question: Why is there so much indiscipline in the Taraba State Civil Service?
Chairman: We have procedures in Civil service if you are not allowed to follow the procedure, the system fails. So there is so much indiscipline because people hardly follow Civil Service procedures.
- Question: People who are to retire don’t do so as of when due, why?
Chairman: Once you are 35 years of service or 60 years of age, you are to retire. But in Taraba, they connive and change their file in the Ministry and distort figures.
- What they don’t know is that before you are employed by the Civil Service, the CSC opens a file for you and that copy is kept at the Commission. The file has a copy of your documents and hand written application. Even when a file in the Ministry is distorted, we normally look through their original file in the Civil service and write to Ministries to fish out overstayed Civil servants.
- Secondly, so-called big politicians normally come to our office to beg for over stayed Civil servants to be retained. We try as much as possible not to give in to this.
- Thirdly, the National Council on Establishment, of which Taraba state is a member and their decisions are binding for all states uses the APER form in their original file with CSC as the basis for retirement. We try to use this procedure to retire.
6. Question: What is the solution to the problem of rot in the Civil service?
- Civil servants should all be reading and be up to date with civil service rules.
- Secondly, Training and retraining should be properly implemented.
- Thirdly, discipline should be restored. We should assist the governor, who is out to sanitize the system.
7. Question: People are saying that the coming interview exercise is a mere windows dressing as people have already been selected. How can you refute that?
Chairman: Press should work with facts. Governor has never imposed anyone on the CSC. Except for very few skills that he sends to them to scrutinize and absorb or discard. Things are gradually going back to normal ways of doing things.
8. Question: Out of 10,000 forms sold that were printed, 9,000 were sold. How many people will the Commission actually absorb?
Chairman: About 6000 people have returned the forms. The Commission did not restrict the forms sold because they want very good civil servants so that everyone can have a level playing ground for competition.
9. Question: How many Civil servants do we have in Taraba state?
Chairman: I inherited about 16,500 Civil servants, on assumption of office and the number has been increasing every year. Right now I don’t know the exact number as some shady things have been happening and the current government is trying its best to sanitize the system.
10. Question: Since 1991 till date, no genuine civil servants have been recruited. Why?
Chairman: Level 1 to 6 have been left for Permanent Secretaries and Commissioners to employ. Most of them employ their uneducated relatives; send them for small courses and promote them. That was where and how the rot began. Most of these unskilled people end up taking inconsistent training here and there and are promoted with it, and subsequently used to fill sensitive positions.
For example, recently, some level 10 officers in Civil service cannot answer simple questions in English.
11. Question: What is the actual number of people that will be recruited?
Chairman: Ministries, departments and agencies are really not submitting vacancies. The number of people to be recruited will, therefore, depend on the vacancies created by the people we forcefully retire.
12. Question: Since we are in a recession, how will the new civil servants be paid since they were not captured in the budget?
Chairman: Through Internally Generated Revenue. Moreover, they were captured in the current budget under personnel costs.
13. Question: What are the steps the Commission has taken to instill discipline?
Chairman: Several steps have been taken but it always backfires due to too many bad eggs. I’ve recently discovered that I am operating at a different wavelength from the people I met on ground as all disciplinary measures that were setup are not working.
The current government is however exploring various strategies to assist.