The Federal Civil Service which was regarded as being highly principled in the 1970s and early 80s is currently being plagued by a number of issues. Apart from the indolent nature of some of the civil servants, corruption has also been discovered to have eaten deep into the structure of the service. Presently, the government cannot confidently claim to know the exact population of those in the civil service. No thanks to the many “ghosts” that receive salaries at the end of every month.
Though recruitments into the Federal Civil Service should be done without a fee, Street Journal has found out that things have changed as a wave of corruption has taken over the air in the civil service. It was also found out that though recruitment is normally done by the Federal Civil Service Commission, Ministries and extra-ministerial departments are allowed to recruit, especially those below GL O8.
With “connection” being the main criterion used in recruitment in the civil service in Nigeria, it is a general belief that recruitment processes in the federal civil service lack equity and transparency. The wave of corruption sweeping across almost all the Federal Ministries now has to do with the existence of an employment racket that holds sway. Street Journal found out that the employment cartel has a membership that cuts across all ministries. This has been made possible by the fact that standard personnel requirements are not often put into use in the recruitment process. Rather, federal character principle and quota system among other things come up when recruitment exercises are to be carried out. These systems put quota ahead of merit most times.
Investigations have revealed that not only are the employment racket members insiders in the Federal civil service, some of them belong to the senior cadre. It was also found out that though most of the ground work is done by the junior staff, they are actually fronts for the big bosses, on whose tables the buck stops most of the time.
While the junior staffs are the ones that “rap” the applicants and convince them that things could be done in their favour, the ratification would be taken care of by those at the senior level.
There is always a “business boom” when it is time to employ. Though many go through the formalities of writing tests and attending interviews, a number of those who paid their way through would be assured of being employed ahead of some of those who should get there on merit. This of course is done with minimum reference to human resource requirements.
Street Journal found out that to enter Federal Ministries, graduates are charged between N 150,000 and N 200,000 by “employment touts” who of course are also on the government’s payroll. Though some pay in instalments, the amount is usually paid upfront and within a short time, employment letters are given to those who are able to afford them.
While trying to find out why people would be willing to pay for employment in the Federal civil service where the pay is considered low by many, Street Journal found out that a number of factors have been responsible for the decadence over the years.
Many people have seen jobs in the civil service as the type that would afford them the time to venture into other things, private business inclusive, a feat that can hardly be done in private employment. The mere fact that pension and other entitlements would be paid after the retirement has also made the service attractive to many. A part of the Civil Service Act stipulates either 35 years of service or the attainment of the age of 60 years as mandatory period for retirement. Many thus see it as a way of getting permanent revenue from the government as against what obtains in the private sector.
A number of people have also opted to pay their way into the civil service due to frustration. Some parents and guardians whose children and wards have been unemployed for long have been known to patronize such employment rackets. Those who paid to get in are also assured of steady promotion and easy rise as long as they are ready to continue to grease palms.
The fraudulent practices of recruitment ends up affecting the productivity of the civil service since the competence of any labour force is determined by the calibre of employees recruited.