Senator Uche Chukwumerije
By Omololu Ogunmade
Some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) Tuesday admitted before the Senate Committee on Federal Character that they took bribes before offering employment to applicants.
The subtle admittance followed a question thrown to the agencies by Senator Uche Chukwumerije during a session involving the Senate committee, Federal Character Commission (FCC) as well as MDAs.
Chukwumerije had asked the representatives of the agencies represented at the session to boldly raise up their hands if they knew they weren’t taking bribe before recruiting new employees into their organisations.
To the shock of all in the gathering, only the representative of National Security for Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) raised up his hands, while others who had earlier boasted of observing merit in their recruitment processes could not summon courage to raise up their hands.
Chukumerije then warned the agencies that it was an unpardonable offence for anyone to take bribe from applicants before offering them jobs, saying doing so implies automatic recruitment of additional thieves into the system while qualified people are left in the “growing cesspool of unemployment.”
Earlier, the chairman of the committee, Senator Awaisu Kuta, had lamented increasing number of scandals in MDAs during recruitment exercises, noting that the principle of federal character is often violated in the process with impunity.
According to Kuta who said the law establishing Federal Character Commission also spelt out punishment for violations of its principles, added that marginalisation of people in certain parts of the country is the bane of productivity, anti-corruption war and patriotism among Nigerians.
Kuta who alleged that jobs are usually offered to the highest bidders, noted that scandals in recruitment processes have reached an alarming rate as he threatened that the law establishing federal character would soon be amended with a view to imposing stricter sanctions on its violators.
While describing the military, police and public officers as the most guilty of the violations, Kuta also accused heads of institutions of complicity in the scandalous acts.
Chairman of FCC, Prof. Oba Abdulraheem, alleged that military, police, civil service commission, Judicial Service Commission, petroleum sector and ministries were notorious for flouting federal character principles.
Abdulraheem who threatened to henceforth drag any violator of the principles to court, insisted that the committee must ensure that heads of all MDAs were summoned by the committee.
In her submission, Head of Federal Civil Service Commission, Joan Ayo, described the existence of federal character in civil service as unnecessary, arguing that the civil service commission should rather serve as the custodian of core values in public service.
She claimed that the commission under her leadership has so far maintained zero tolerance for corruption, disclosing that 80 per cent of recruitment carried out on the basis of existing three senatorial districts in each state are done on merit while the remaining 20 per cent are done on discretion.
The committee promised to invite the military, police and para-military institutions accused of violating the federal character principle during the next session.
It also threatened to accordingly deal with violators of federal character principles.