The crisis over the civil servants suspended by the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, may have been put to rest following the submission by the new Chairman of the State Civil Service Commission, Nkem Okwuofu, that Governor Okowa will not revisit the suspension issue any longer.
The submission by the Chairman has ended almost one year of protest by the over 2000 workers who were suspended by Okowa on assumption of office on the ground that the employment did not follow due process and could not be said to be credible. Consequently, as soon as he assumed office, he slammed suspension order through the office of the State Head of Service, Patrick Origho.
The civil servants were alleged to have paid their way into the service as many of them bought the employment letters to the tune of between N300,000 to N800,000 to secure the jobs from the former Chairman of the Commission, Emmanuel Tetsola.
Following the suspension by Governor Okowa, the civil servants, many of whom had resigned from their previous jobs, had protested to several offices and written letters appealing for the voice of reason to the Governor, even as they said they were genuinely employed into the service, having the competitive placement tests.
But Okowa faulted the process and sacked the over 2000 workers in June last year.
Okwuofu ,who spoke in Asaba on Monday, April 18, 2016, also hinged government’s decision on the fact that the entire process leading to the recruitment was grossly compromised by the actors that were charged with the process.
She said Governor Ifeanyi Okowa did not single-handedly put the appointment on hold but that the suspension of the workers was a result of the recommendation of the transition committee based on the large scale irregularities that characterized the process.
While, maintaining that the recruitment exercise fell short of required standard, Okwuofu said “I was shocked to note that even as we speak, there is no existing file in the commission on that particular recruitment”, pointing out that the director in charge of recruitment and promotions could not produce any file that has to do with the said recruitment.
“From asking questions upon my assumption of office, I found out that everything about the recruitment exercise was irregular. Again, I cannot sight the Governor’s approval for the recruitment”, she said, adding that there was no record anywhere showing that those recruited were interviewed or examined before they were given appointment letters.
According to her, a good number of those recruited were from across the Niger who, through the collaboration of some council staff in the state, got certificates of local governments of origin from Delta State, querying “how can people whose credentials were not seen by the commission be placed on a particular grade level or designation?
“If there were credible reasons for us to appeal to the state governor to revisit the suspended recruitment exercise, we could have done that, but from all the facts available to us in the commission, we found out that the whole exercise was fouled.
“However, the issue is not being revisited. I have not been directed to do so and I see no reason why we should. Certainly not at a time the salary wage bill of the state government is hitting the sky”, she said.
“What we should be doing’, according to her, ‘is to assist the state government in fishing out the names of those who are receiving salaries without working (that is, ghost workers) “not recruiting more people to add to the problem already on ground”, pointing out that recruitment into the state civil service would be done at the appropriate time as may be decided by the state Governor.