UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION: Bribery, corruption, discrimination, ‘presidency slot’ in the 2016/2017 federal civil service recruitment

by GBENGA ODUNSI | November 1, 2017 6:00 pm

By Gbenga Odunsi, Abuja
As the 2016/2017 federal civil service commission (FCSC) recruitment exercise comes to an end, AljazirahNigeria concludes its investigation on the recruitment that started in September 2016. For days, our reporter visited the federal civil service commission (FCSC) in Abuja, pretending first  as a candidate, and later  a staff of the commission. Moving from one office to another, his findings revealed that wave of corruption has taken over the air in the civil service, and the recruitment exercise was not based on merit.

Nothing could be more painful than applying for a job and not being shortlisted for interview, many would say. And nothing could be more painful than being shortlisted for an interview, and not being issued appointment letter at the end of the exercise. Investigations revealed that many candidates did not get the job partly because they had no ‘connection in the National Assembly, and largely because they had no money to bribe their way to secure an appointment letter.

The Federal Civil Service Commission of Nigeria (FCSC) is an executive body in Nigeria that has the authority to make appointments and transfers, and to exercise disciplinary control over all Federal Civil Servants. The Federal Civil Service which was viewed as being highly disciplined in the 70s and early 80s is presently being inundated by many problems. 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 all thanks goes to the many “ghosts” that receive salaries at the end of every month.

Business Boom: Applicants pay N400,000 to get jobs

Although the website of the FCSC clearly states that “Federal Civil Service Commission does not ask for payment of any kind from applicants during the entire process of the recruitment exercise,” investigation has revealed that to gain employment into federal ministries, graduates are charged between N 300,000 and N400,000 by state commissions, and sometimes Directors, who, of course, are also on the government’s payroll. Though some pay in installments, the amount is usually paid upfront and within a short time, employment letters are given to those who can afford them.

At one of the South-East commission (Name Withheld), a young lady, who, by every indication, is frustrated with the amount of corruption in the recruitment exercise, couldn’t hold her tears as she kept cursing the entire staff of the commission. Pretending to be a staff (FCSC staff are not compelled to wear identity cards in the premises), our reporter asks what the problem is. Thinking he would help her out of her predicament, the short, light-skinned lady narrates her ordeal. Wearing a sombre look, she would in the next few minutes, give a blow-by-blow explanation of how a commissioner conducts his own ‘separate’ recruitment into the service.

“I was bluntly told that if I don’t have money, I should forget about the recruitment.

“I attended the interview conducted at Kubwa some months back, but since then, I was not contacted again, so I decided to come here to enquire if results are out, but on getting here, my commissioner (Name Withheld) asked me to bring a recommendation letter from the Senator representing my senatorial district.

“After weeks of parading National Assembly for a recommendation letter, I was fortunate to get one from my senator (Name Withheld), who, also directed me to another top official (Name Withheld) in the National Assembly to minute on the recommendation letter.

“I came here this morning to present the letter to the chairman, and after a long wait, his secretary passed me into his office.

“Surprisingly, the Commissioner asked me to open my bag and bring out everything in it, adding that I should switch off my phone.

“After presenting the recommendation letter to him, he placed it in his shredding machine, and in a speed of light, the document was gone. He clearly told me to pay a sum of N300,000 or forget the job.

“The painful part of this is that my Senator’s aide also collected money from me before giving out the letter.”

When asked on the amount she paid the Senator’s aide, she declined answering, adding that the amount was not as important as getting the job. (AljazirahNigeria has a photocopy of the ‘recommendation letter’)

A front view of the Federal Civil Service Commission

Commissioners are more powerful than the Head of Service

Pretending to be a candidate who came to collect his appointment letter, our reporter walked into a North-Central commission Director, ‘Recruitment and Applications’ room (Room number Withheld). The room was so scanty nothing to show that they are typing any appointment letter as he was meant to understand from other applicants. Are they typing them in hidden places or in secret places, or in the director’s house? He asks himself.

“I have come to confirm if the typing of appointment letters we have been hearing about will be done this week, and besides, I would like to check for a candidate’s name. I told one of the staff in the commission.

“When the date for the appointment letter is fixed, you will be notified” a short, bald, middle-aged man responded.

Another staff, this time a young and stylish man half-heartedly checked for the person’s name and the position he applied for, and then told him the person didn’t make it to that stage. AljazirahNigeria pondered what he meant by ‘that stage.”

AljazirahNigeria met four other candidates there who came to check their names on the list. One was fortunate, while others were unfortunate. A junior staff told them “some people’s names are in the substantive list, but they were not called for documentation”.

Out of curiosity, our reporter asked why people who made the list were not called for documentation, his response was heart-breaking.

“Only the commissioners can answer that” the dark-skinned, ‘fura de nunu’ drinking Hausa man reply.”

Up Next

With a curious mind wanting to know why candidates who made the list would not be sent an SMS, our reporter moved to another office, a south-south commission, this time pretending to be a staff he told the secretary he wanted to help a friend check his name on the list, and inquire why his friend is yet to receive SMS. He had barely finished his explanations when a semi-aged man donned in brown suit with a matching brown belt and shoe swaggered out from the office of the commissioner with a list in his hand he wears the aura of a man who, understands, by nature of corruption in FCSC, that ‘nothing goes for nothing.’

“These names that I marked, I mean these names that I marked with pencil, do not send them text messages and do not call them.

“We know what to do with them, and if anybody among these ones here insists on seeing the list, ask them what list are you talking about.”

Efforts to know the job position of the man proved abortive but findings reveal that he is not the commissioner.

In a general FCSC recruitment, some states are denied certain positions

Still at the south-south commission, our reporter met a candidate a well-dressed young man, with Calabar accent who narrated his ordeal, and explained how the entire recruitment exercise was more of a disgrace to the present administration. He would in the next 15 minutes or thereabout express disappointment and regret voting the All Progressive Party, (APC) into power.

According to him, he applied for Culture/Tourism officer but was bluntly told by the secretary that nobody from south-south states were offered such job position. According to the secretary, he was made to understand that some states were given slots for culture and tourism officers, and so it is with other positions.

“There are some jobs that Niger/FCT will get but Anambra will not get, and some, Lagos will get but Bauchi will not get.

“Why didn’t they publish the job positions some states cannot apply for during the advertisement of the job?

“Why didn’t they specify clearly that some jobs were meant for HND or BSC holders during the advertisements?

“At the end, one may be denied appointment letter based on ‘states slot factor’ or on ‘qualification preference factor’

“This 2016 FCSC recruitment is the worst ever to be conducted in the history of the federal civil service commission,” he adds.

Discrimination in the 2016/2017 federal civil service recruitment

 

Presidency Slots

Up next was the shattering and mind-blowing revelation of a pending presidency list for the ministry of Foreign Affairs. I had already heard of the underground recruitment at the foreign affairs ministry but needed to get a first-hand information about it.

As at when some successful candidates had been handed their appointment letters, the presidency was yet to submit its own list of ‘angels-candidates’ to be employed into the foreign affairs ministry.

This time — pretending to be a candidate — our reporter walked into one of the south-west commission.

“Ejo, mo receive text message pe kin wa gba appointment letter mi (I received an SMS from this commission asking me to come for my appointment letter), he explains.

The secretary, a dark, a middle-aged, and slim woman requested to see the SMS he received. After explaining to her about my flat battery, she loosened up.

“What did you apply for, and which of the ministries did you apply to?” she asks.

“Information Officer 11, Ministry of Foreign affairs” he replies.

“No candidate has been called or sent SMS for the foreign affairs ministry. Go back and read the SMS properly, if you truly received any.

“I am saying so because foreign affairs ministry list has not been released, the list is coming from the presidency,” she adds.

As at the time of filing this report, AljazirahNigeria learnt that the ‘president slot’ for Ministry of foreign affairs had been released, and candidates had received appointment letters. They were the last set of candidates to be offered ‘special’ appointment into the federal civil service.

Letter of appointment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Reps rejects call to probe the 2016 FCSC recruitment

It is not surprising that the leadership of the National Assembly has declined to probe the apparent crooked recruitment conducted by the federal civil service. Investigation revealed that most of the lawmakers instructively presented a list of their candidates to the FCSC for onward employment into the civil service.

According to report, the House of Reps, in September, rejected the call to probe the 2016/2017 federal civil service recruitment with a view to identifying anomalies and correcting same. The motion, which was sponsored by Henry Nwawuba(PDP) was rejected by the members when put to vote by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

Nwawuba noted that many of the applicants had their dreams of working for the Federal government dashed by the failure of the Commission to inform them about further processes regarding the exercise which was alleged to have lacked transparency, and was not conducted with extant rules.

The members gave no reasons for the rejection of the motion. The speaker appeared to be surprised by the position of the members by raising the question one more time for clarification but was faced with another round of rejection of the motion.

Several calls were made to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita to get her reaction on the recruitment scandal rocking the civil service. She neither picked her calls nor replied SMS sent to her line as at the time of filing this report.

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