For some time now, civil servants in Oyo State have been at loggerheads with the state government over the payment of the new wage structure which puts the minimum wage at N 18,000. The immediate past administration led by Otunba Alao-Akala which had refused to pay the new wage eventually approved it with effect from the 31st, May, 2011 after it lost the elections in April.
A good number of states in the country are experiencing labour crisis as workers continue to demand the payment of the new wage structure. It has been a matter of debate whether some civil servants actually justify what they are paid by the government.
Investigations conducted by Street Journal within the Oyo State Secretariat revealed that the government is apparently running at a loss. No thanks to the rot within the civil service which has caused government business to move rather slowly. Incidentally, the rot cuts across all cadres, from the top to the lowest. Investigations revealed that not a few senior civil servants live beyond their earnings thus leading to insinuations that a lot of shady deals do occur within the civil service. Apart from the internal deals that might include the inflation of costs as well as the diversion of funds meant for projects within the department, no fraud perpetrated by politicians is ever done without the aid of conspirators in the civil service,
With the way Nigeria is run, it is difficult for any public officer to embezzle government money without the aid of civil servants as allocations are never handed over to politicians directly. They are paid into the state’s accounts by the Federal Government and the Accountant General and those at the helm of affairs in the Finance Ministry are always the first to know when the funds are in the state’s coffers, they also ensure that each ministry gets its quota. Likewise, it is difficult for a Commissioner to embezzle without the knowledge of a Permanent Secretary. For instance, before any fund is expended in a ministry, the Permanent Secretary would at least have knowledge of it being the head of the civil servants in that ministry.
Street Journal has also found that one of the factors responsible for the slow pace of work in the Oyo State civil service is the slothful approach most civil servants have to work. Those who get to the secretariat early to transact business at government offices often have to wait for the workers. Visits to many offices by Street Journal revealed that most offices only open around 8 am with workers strolling in when they should have been behind their desks attending to the day’s work.
Laziness too seems to have become the order of the day. The average government worker would rather not work unless assured that “something” would be given to him or her after the job is done. Though bribes are not often openly demanded, the delay often associated with getting jobs done will make even the most honest person offer one.
It is an open secret that some civil servants sleep at their duty posts. Some have had to be woken up by visitors to their office. Those who are privileged to have television sets too are often too engrossed by the programmes being viewed that they forget that they are in the office. Apart from being guilty of sleeping on duty, a good number of civil servants on Oyo State’s payroll engage in one illegal trade or the other. Most office refrigerators are not entirely for the use of the office as civil servants capitalize on the opportunity to sell soft drinks and sachet water.
Visitors to government offices often see people from other offices around coming in to buy drinks and snacks from their colleagues even during office hours. Interested visitors too often partake especially when they have to endure long periods of waiting before they eventually get to see the “oga” whose attention they need. As such , visitors to the secretariat at times don’t need to look outside for basic things they might need such as snacks, drinks and even recharge cards. They are readily available, thanks to business minded civil servants.
In Oyo State, the civil service seems to have suddenly become attractive as many see it as the only way to get paid without working. A good number of civil servants are in one institution or the other pursuing full-time academic degrees.
Street Journal’s findings point in the direction that the government loses amounts running into millions of Naira to absentee workers who get paid for doing just nothing. There are also ghost workers in the civil service. Street Journal found out that most of the ghost workers are bred by those in the senior cadre. They include friends and allies as well as some who have either died or left service. They are however enjoying the benevolence of the government on a monthly basis. It was also found out that some names on the rolls in some departments are out rightly fictitious and what becomes of the payments that accrue to such fictitious workers can only be explained by the officials that head such departments.
It was also found out that a good number of civil servants use their positions to make extra cash for themselves, and this too occurs from the lowest to the most senior. The messenger obviously expects something after helping to take a file to his boss. Contractors are often the ones at the receiving end of this as they have to “drop something” for everyone in the office where the contract is to be approved. It has also been alleged that mafia cliques exist in almost every department of the civil service in Oyo State. Members of the closely knitted cliques are the ones who usually decide whether a new boss stays in an office or not.
Street Journal gathered that quite a number of administrative appointments have been frustrated by cliques. Findings revealed that apart from giving uncooperative attitudes to seniors who are disliked by members of the mafia, they sometimes go as far as writing anonymous petitions against such superiors. This attitude might have led to the believe in some quarters while discharging their duties, most civil servants in Oyo State put personal interests above that of the state.