Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Civil servants in Delta State are gripped by new fear for their jobs as the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has approved a fresh exercise to verify the dates of birth and employment of members of the state public servants.
Chairman, Delta State Civil Service Commission, Mrs. Nkem Okwuofu, disclosed that the governor had accordingly given approval for the constitution of a committee with terms of reference to conduct the verification.
Okwuofu disclosed this, yesterday in Asaba, while inaugurating a ten-member verification committee, in which she would serve as Chairman, said that the terms of reference were to identify, investigate and authenticate the date of birth as well as the date of employment of public officers in the employ of the state.
Moreover, the committee is to identify those with question marks either with their date of birth or the date of their employment int the state civil service, she said.
Specifically, the committee is expected to isolate “public officers with discrepancies in dates of birth and employment without justification and recommend to the state government the disciplinary action to be taken against such offenders in line with extant rules” in the Delta State civil service.
Okwuofu revealed that the setting of the verification committee became necessary following “petitions and complaints” allegedly received from certain civil servants alerting the government to the existence of some officers still in service but overdue for retirement.
According to the state civil service commission chairman, the petitioners alleged that the offending officers kept altering personal information in their files simply “to prolong their stay in the service.”
The said falsification of their employment records was making it impossible for the government to employ young hands into the service, Okwuofu noted, hinting on the likelihood of fresh pruning of the state service.
Such fraudulent action of public officers was not only fraudulent but inimical to the policies of the government and the proper growth of the civil service in the state.
She noted that members of the 10-man committee were tested hands and assured that the committee would do a thorough work to justify the confidence reposed in the members by the governor.
However, some civil servants said their fears were based on suspicion that that the exercise might be another guise by the state government to downsize its workforce as it has repeatedly complained about the size of its civil service, which Governor Okowa has severally described as being over-bloated.
Some officers in Asaba and Warri who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity claimed that the state civil service had become weary with endless series of verification exercise with the commencement of the state workers’ verification exercise several years ago by the Uduaghan administration.
They said that aside from the seemingly endless biometric exercise, one of the worries of the state public officers have been their inability to access their funds in their various cooperative groups “which is deducted at source from salaries of contributing public servants” as the government has not released the money to applicants through the account-general for several months now.
However, the state government said that the verification exercise has, despite the apparent hiccups or delay, yielded positive results as it has helping in weeding out a significant number of so-called ghost workers from the system.