Endangering Edo State Civil Service: An Ugly Legacy That Should Discontinue
All over the world the civil service is the engine room of development as they are expected by their training and culture to apolitically and dispassionately assist the government of the day, irrespective of political colouration, to formulate and implement policies and programmes for the overall good of the populace. So far, no better alternative has been found as an instrument for assisting any government in power to develop unbiasedly, impartially and on constructive basis.
Older democracies like the United Kingdom, Germany, USA, to mention a few have not only strneghtend their civil service because of the aforesaid reasons they have also continued to relied on them to deliver the dividends of democracy. Coming nearer home, the civil services of Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun and indeed the entire Western zone are waxing stronger, the North is not an exception.
In the case of Edo State, the story is pathetic, very unsettling because the institution of the civil service in Edo State, under the administration of Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole, is deliberately being weakened to become either irrelevant and or incapable of rendering her statutory function bestowed on her
Many examples abound to lay credence to this conclusion
- Use of consultancy to do civil service work
- Non recruitment of personnel to fill vacancies
- Wanton dismissal and retirement of civil servant without resort to extant rules and regulations
- Puppelising and politicizing the position of permanent secretary
- Pauperisingng and humiliating civil servants
- Denial of necessary amenities
When the Oshiomhole administration will be evaluated, it can be called the government of miscellaneous consultants who are employed with fabulous amount, ranging from N 5000,000 to N 2,000,000 per month to perform the services of civil servants. Many of the so called consultants are not as qualified as the civil servants. Their only qualification, being that they know Oshiomhole’s as his boys or cronies. Some are stark illiterates, others have OND and HND which at times are capped with correspondence degrees from Metropolitan University, London. Their styles of work is that they hold endless meetings with top civil servants who are highly educated with prestigious bachelors and master degree to collect and collate their ideas which are later signed off as consultants efforts. This has been the lots of civil servants since the beginning of the Adams Oshiomhole’s administration. The idea is to intimidate and bamboozle the civil servants to become incapable of discharging his/her function to pave way for massive looting of public funds. If you hear of the so called Economic Team of the Edo State government headed by Mr. Godwin Obaseki, do not look further; this is their “Modus Operandi”- very pretentious, presumptious and pompus while leveraging on the expertise of civil servants.
Since 2007, no significant recruitment exercise has been done in Edo State. Compared to any other civil service in Nigeria, Edo State has the leanest civil service. The present roll call is less than 1,500, excluding teachers and parastatals. You can see why the so called regular payment of salaries is not a big deal. The total monthly emolument of sundry consultants and an array of political office holders, (euphemism for Oshiomhole’s cronies) is actually more than that of the civil servants. If the government can be honest enough to publish the names of all the civil servants and their monthly pay viz-a-viz those of consultants and an assortment of political office holders, one can see glarely how civil servants have been short-changed in Edo State. Because there is no replacement each time people leave the service through death, retirement, dismissal and imparment, the civil service salary bill is actually decreasing every month while that of the political appointees is increasing monthly.
That Edo State holds the unenviable records as the leading state where civil servants, both low and high are retired and dismissed arbitrarily is no longer news. We are familiar with the arbitrary retirement of top permanent secretaries and Head of Service including Mr. Felix Otoide, Mr. Dan Agbarhao, Mr. Jerry Pbazele, Mrs. Onosude, Mrs Caro Edo-Osagie, Mr. Uhunmwango, Directors like Mr. Remison, Mrs. Omogbarale and so many others are also helpless and victims of this unparalled impunity. Coupled with that is the mindless and callous dismissal of over 8000 youths in employment (YES) workers without even the courtesy of paying them one month salary in lien of notice as a customary with labour leader. Yet this is the same country when state governments are still massively employing. On December 20, 2015, Kano State government employed 739 Agricultural Extension agents. This is ironically a non-oil producing state.
Perhaps nothing better exemplifies the gradual destruction of the Edo State civil service than the puppetisation and policisation of the position of the permanent secretary, the zenith of the civil service to which all civil servants fervently aspire. The Oshiomhole’s administration has not only ensured that permanent secretaries are made strangers to government they have also be grossly denied and humiliated. The spate of unwarranted retirement apart, they are voiceless.
Most permanent secretaries have no officials cars whereas political thugs and others have choice government vehicles for their official and unofficial use. Furniture allowances are denied them whereas their commissioners enjoys these privileges every four years. To further bring permanent secretaries to their kneels, Oshiomhole’s administration now appoint permanent secretaries from outside the civil service including retired soldiers. This anomaly was even rare in the darks days of the military. The idea is to send a message that there is no big deal for a civil servant to be a permanent secretary. One can be a thug and still be made one in Edo Sate at least. The permanent secretary Barr. Akhamenkhue was recently so humiliated by being made by Governor Oshiomhole to be making garbage with bare hand, please see picture in table.
The whole essence is to pauperize civil servant and humiliate them so that they will be afraid and too weak to play their apolitical and impartial advisory roles to ensure that the treasury is not looted. The civil service cannot be avoided because when the politicians leave, as they must at a point in time, it is the civil servant that will be called upon to clean the mess.
The case of Edo State is frightful for the continuing existence of virile service because the mindset of this administration and its chief economic adviser in the person of Mr. Godwin Obaseki is total disdain for the civil service.
As an extreme capitalist, as he himself averred, Mr. Godwin Obaseki doesn’t even believe in civil service but rather outsourcing, consultancy and machines to replace civil servants. So do not be surprise if another retrenchment looms with them. The Edo State Civil Service is facing a real danger of total destruction and annulations. God save us. Edo people should read between the line.