Akin Akande, Abuja
A can of worms was let open on Tuesday at the National Assembly when the Federal Character Commission, Federal Civil Service Commission and paramilitary agencies unanimously agreed that applicants pay bribe before getting appointments and promotions.
The National Assembly however submitted that the issue of public jobs being preserved for the highest bidders is not only dangerous for the nation, but also stands to deprive the less privileged the opportunity to dividends of democracy.
There have been several allegations against many of the federal government commissions and agencies of corrupt practices in the recruitment of new intakes into the federal civil service.
Applicants, it was gathered offer as much as N250, 000 to get employed in the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and other para-military agencies, for instance.
The revelation came just as the heads of the FCC and FCSC, Professor Oba Abdulraham and Deaconess Joan Ayo took each other up on the relevance of their offices in the recruitment into the Federal Civil Service and why one should exist against the two commissions.
The Commissions and Para-military agencies involved included the Federal Civil service Commission, FCSC, Federal Character Commission, FCC, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Nigeria Fire service, Nigeria Prisons service.
The heads of the commissions and agencies appeared before the joint committee on Federal Character over the alleged lopsidedness in the appointment and promotions in the federal civil service as well as the allegations of bribery in seeking employment into the various available vacancies.
The Chairman on the joint committee, Senator Dahiru Awaisu Kuta said, “The committee has been worried about the series of bribery allegations in the on-going para-military appointment across the country and the happenings in the Federal Civil service Commission and other public service.
“Section 14(3) and 14(4) has not been complied with in terms of employment and provisions of social services and duty of the Federal Character Commission. Actions of some MDAs are often scandalous, a reflection of the deep rots in the nation’s social fabrics.
The drama was however played out when the Chairman Senate committee on Education, who is also a member of the Federal Character committee, Uche Chukwumerejie talked about the growing menace of alleged bribery in the recruitment exercise.
He challenged the head of the Commissions and Para-military agencies to dispute it if bribe was not taken by any parastatals in the course of recruitment and promotions saying, ‘the question was due to a major factor’
At the question, none of the heads of the commission or the Para-military agencies could raise its or her hand, while murmuring enveloped the entire hall, but the only one who raised hands half way was the Commandant-General of the NSCDC, Dr. Ade Abolurin who was reminded that the scourge of corruption in the NSCDC made a front page lead of several national dailies at the weekend and has not rebuffed or denied the story. He posited that bribe from the unemployed is perjuries to the country, by taking the bribe, you have recruited one more thief into the system, those rejected are potential threat to the continued existence of the country.
“If recruitment is not taking serious, we are throwing a poisonous dagger at the heart of the country and I want to state here that stern punishment awaits any heads of parastatal caught in the act.
The Chairman, Federal Character Commission, Oba Abdulraham said the issue of flagrant disregard for the existing regulation and corruptive tendencies in respect of employment played a prominent role in the employment into the civil service and thereby caused confusion between equity and equality in the distribution of posts.
But to the Chairman of the FCSC, Joan Ayo, the issue of federal character should not arise in the commission because to her, “Our founding fathers opted for meritocracy, integrity and equality, the FCSC remains the custodian of values of the public service.
“There should no need for federal character commission if Nigerians had followed meritocracy as proposed by the founding fathers of the commission.”