Senator Anyim Pius Anyim
Senator Iroegbu and Adedayo Akinwale
The Adamu Fika-led Presidential Committee on the Reform Processes in the Public Service has called on the Federal Government to abrogate the tenure policy in the civil service, especially those guiding the appointments of permanent secretaries and directors-general.
Fika, who is the chairman of the committee, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, at the presentation of the final report on the reform processes in the public service to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
He said on a positive side, the tenure policy had succeeded in freeing positions, especially officers who would have otherwise been stagnated but have been promoted.
He, however, said the tenure policy introduced in 2009 was put in place without any impact assessment study carried out; adding that the tenure policy for permanent secretaries and directors had violated the rights provided in the civil service rule.
He added that the policy had depleted skills within the service and as well deprived it of those affected to serve in accordance with the current terms of engagement.
He said: "The tenure policy has deprived the service of some of the most competent and experienced hands, it also has a destabilising and turnover effect of the senior officers in the service.
"But removing top officers simply gives room for junior and less experienced officers who would at the end not be interested in the service. And as a general rule, every organisation should cherish and treasure competence and take all necessary steps to retain all its experienced officers."
Fika noted that civil servants were not entirely blameless in the massive corruption bedeviling the civil service in the country, stressing that they have embraced the culture of corruption.
"They made it possible for, aided and abetted corruption and then joined the political class in corruption and disruption of public good.
“Today, they have literally abandoned the best tradition of the service and its core value and sacrificed the ethos of the public service at the altar of self-interest; and the only thing they seem to care about is lining their own pockets.
“We fully support the principle that all public service questions including appointment, promotions, transfers, postings, dismissal, and other disciplinary matters should be kept completely free and independent of political control. We hope that the traditional promotion, according t qualification, experience, and merit regard to race will be maintained," he added.
"We, therefore, recommend that Mr. President should convene a conference on the restoration of the merit-based system to be attended by him, the Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the national leaders and chairmen of all political parties represented in the National Assembly or the state assemblies to commit themselves and their parties to the ideal of the merit-based public service,” he said.
In their final report, the committee also recommended that the Federal Government should treat its employees with a sense of justice and equality, adding that the numerous consolidated salary groupings in the public service should be collapsed into one.
The committee noted that some government departments and agencies pay their staff some periodic sums over and above their statutory pay scales, and cited the case of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other revenue collecting organs, where huge ex-gratia payments were made to their members of staff.
The report posited that the review package of allowances of public office holders, fixed by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) with effect from 2007 which allowed salaries and allowances to rise from N1126.7 billion to N1.1126 trillion was not acceptable.
The report read: "Out of this, salaries took a mere N94.56 billion, while allowances gulped the whole of N1031.65 billion, which represented 91.56 per cent, which is a worrisome trend as there was a need to take a hard look at the glaring anomaly where allowances were more than 10 times greater than salaries.
“It is certainly not morally defensible from the perspective of social justice or any known moral criteria that such huge sum of public funds is consumed by an infinitesimal fraction of the people which is less than 0.013 per cent of the total population.
“No work group enjoys such paramouncy over others or has such omnipotence in skills as to enable it minister to the needs of every segment of the society and so deserve such grossly discriminatory and permanent special treatment, manifested in a salary structure well above all others," he said.
“Indeed, such payments constitute willful and pre-mediated misappropriation of funds, which amount to unauthorised charges on the public cures”.
The committee was of the view that the politicisation of the public service as the significant cause of most of the problems which have bedeviled the service, saying that the most disastrous effect was the virtual replacement of the merit-based system of the public service bestowed on us by the founding fathers with the discredited patronage.
It said that, in appointment, promotion and discipline as well as in the day to day functions of the public service, political considerations now seem to be the dominant factors, adding that the political intrusion is taking several forms.
Responding, Anyim commended the committee on the thorough work they did on the mandate giving to them in repositioning the public service.
He assured them that he would submit the report to the president.
He, however, stated that the resignation of the vice-chairman of the committee, Mrs. Fransica Emmanuel, based on personal reasons won’t affect the credibility of the report.