When he assumed office on May 29 last year, Governor Simon Lalong vowed not to take the welfare of civil servants for granted. He also promised to root out ghost workers in the state civil service.
Lalong vowed that his administration would do everything possible to reform the civil service. Recently, the state government said it has concluded arrangements to computerise the state civil service so as to have a comprehensive database of all legitimate workers and thus eradicate ghost workers. The provision of computer identification cards to civil servants will help control the presence of ghost workers often done by criminals.
Head of Service, Mr Izam Atang Azi, said re-orientating the civil service remains a priority as it would help eliminate ghost workers and conserve funds for the state. He stated this while defending the N500 million budget for the renovation of the state secretariat phase two.
According to Azi, the computer identification of civil servants will help the state government to have a central record of all workers and it would include necessary documentation and data of their employment, promotion details, disciplinary records, as well as the time of retirement of each person on the payroll of the government.
“I want to assure you that the computerisation will help checkmate the issue of civil servants updating their files just to make adjustment that will favour them or change some record to add the years of their retirement, the computerisation will help us to monitor those who are supposed to retire.”
The head of service also disclosed that currently, the state has 13,600 civil servants excluding political appointees, saying the computerisation will also fight the issue of ghost workers.
He also maintained that the state government will provide identification card to all civil servants for security reasons.
This is in consonance with the declaration of Governor Lalong that his administration is keen on restructuring the civil service.
“In my inaugural address on assumption of office, I noted that we are into a new beginning that reveals the limitless possibilities before us. It therefore calls for reflection in tackling our outstanding challenges. I assured the people of Plateau that our government will be committed to enhancing productivity and professionalism in the civil service as a driving force in our development both at the state and local government level.”
Furthermore, he said the recent retirement of some permanent secretaries and their reversal to their former position before their appointment is a clear statement of our commitment to restructure the civil service. Lalong emphasised that his administration would continue to uphold the principle of meritocracy and even in the appointments they intend to make.
“Let me unambiguously state that the civil service of any state defines the character and content of government. The permanent secretaries as key drivers of the image and structure of government’s operations are coming into the value chain to run a participatory governance process which will enhance service delivery through professionalism and the building of a harmonious working relationship with organised labour. We have managed the labour unrest we inherited well.
“The recommendation of the transition committee which we are implementing religiously to rescue the civil service will ensure that the conflicts of functions between agencies and ministries of government are squarely addressed and that career progression as an incentive for service is maintained to check unnecessary interference with the bureaucratic structure of government,” he said, assuring that the principle of state character would be adhered to.
As bureaucrats, he told the permanent secretaries that they are the chief accounting officers in their respective ministries and warned that as gatekeepers they must be willing to play great roles in government including executing policies and stamping out ghost workers.
“You are expected to conform strictly to the requirements of the civil service in the discharge of your responsibilities, be non-partisan and ensure that discipline is professionally injected into the civil service without consideration of political persuasion.’’
Speaking on the enormity of the challenges that the state is confronted with, he said as a government they are left with the need for quick fixes that will address the needs of the people.
The appointment of permanent secretaries will provide the needed manpower for the services that will address this myriad of challenges.
Speaking recently in Jos while presenting the proposed 2016 budget to members of the House of Assembly, the governor said “Given the drastic fall in revenue from the Federation Account, we are challenged to be less dependent but look inwards in order to boost our revenue profile from other sources. In this way, we can give hope and succour to the people. I make bold to state that I am aware that our people, particularly the youth and women are currently bleeding in hardship and there is a pervasive sense of pessimism that the best days of our dear state are behind us and that things can get worse.
‘‘Many citizens share in that sense of despondency, which was growing by the day and hence the cry for ‘Change and Rescue’. I had given assurance about our determination to change and rescue situations and overcome the handicaps of the past and to meet the prospects that lie in the future with courage and confidence. In this way, we would give hope to citizens. I therefore reiterate my earlier call that let our hearts not despair or be troubled and let us keep hope alive.
“The goal of our administration is to reduce human sufferings by uplifting the quality of life of the people. We plan to create opportunities for every Plateau citizen who desires to lead a meaningful and productive life,” Lalong said.
A resident, Nagelu Garba, said the governor has done well in his commitment to the welfare of civil servants. “Our governor since assumption of office has done well in the payment of salaries of civil servants.”
Mamuda Nyellong, who spoke to our reporter, said “The welfare of civil servants was so poor when Governor Lalong came into power, but as I am talking to you all that have changed as he has made workers welfare and salaries his topmost priority, he deserves to be praised,” he added.

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