Early last August, the government of Taraba State decided to carry out a thorough screening to ascertain the genuine list of its workforce. The aim was to take care of what government felt was unnecessary expenditure so as to save cost and then invest resources in more meaningful ventures for the overall benefit of the people of the state.
Finding shows that some people claimed to be civil servants but they came through the backdoor; how they got the employment was surrounded in secrecy. Some of the so-called civil servants in the state, as widely speculated, were not from the state. Many of them are said to have hailed from Gombe State. They were allegedly favoured by the onetime Ag. governor of the state, Garba Umar.
A middle aged man was allegedly caught with government house letter head papers and stamp of the state governor. He was allegedly giving employment to people and collecting huge amount of money. He had allegedly claimed to have had the directive of the then Ag governor to do it. Some people were reported to have fallen into the trap before luck ran out of him.
A seasoned administrator in the state who spoke to Nigerian Pilot on condition of anonymity informed that a lot of things happened during the past administration in the state. According to him, “about 1,000 teachers were given employment in the state but over seventy percent of them came from Gombe State, a situation that angered some people as indigenes who qualified for the job were denied the opportunities”. He opined that such irregularities needed to be corrected before it gets out of hand.
A retired director in the Taraba State government who also volunteered to speak to our correspondent behind closed door informed that some top office holders were fond of putting names that do not exist on the list of civil servants, particularly when administration is going out and a new one is coming on board. He revealed that such fraudulent staff put those names for their benefit because any money paid for the nonexistent civil servants go straight into their private pockets. “A lot of people are into the habit of defrauding the state government through ghost workers”, he lamented.
These, among others, accounted for why the state government decided embark on numbering exercise to determine the strength of its workforce. A source at Government House, Jalingo, told Nigerian Pilot that what used to come as salaries of the civil servants has been jacked up considerably, a situation the propelled the state governor to consider the option of screening.
It could be recalled that when Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi was reinstated by the Supreme Court, he wanted to terminate all appointments made by the previous administration, particularly the time he was impeached. However, a source in the seat of power advised against it.
As good as the idea of screening is to many, some of the people of the state were not comfortable with the exercise. A civil servant who simply gave his name as Usman told Nigerian Pilot that government was only interested in delaying civil servants’ salaries. He also added that “We have gone through a number of screenings but government has never come out with what could help the state. Those that carry out the screening are the same people could do anything. Such screenings have no effect”.
But the problem some civil servants in the state have with the screening is the fear that the state government is planning to retrench workers. A civil servant who works in the Ministry of Health disclosed that he was afraid of what the governor wants to do. He expressed fear that the state government would terminate the appointments of some civil servants and he was not sure of his fate. He reasoned that if he had his way, he would have stopped the exercise at least at these difficult days.
The governor who spoke through his media aide, Sylvanus Giwa in Jalingo insisted that the ongoing screening exercise of staff in the state civil service was not meant to sack workers, but to correct the wrong done by the past administration. He informed that his administration wanted to flush out people who gained employment into the state civil service through the back door.
He noted that all employments in the state from 2012 to 2014 were not done according to the laid down civil service rules. “Some claimed to be university graduates but they are not, and this is why it has become necessary for the state government to carry out the screening exercise”.
The move, according to him, was not to retrench civil servants but it is designed to harmonize the state civil service towards effective service delivery in addition to blocking revenue leakages. It is “to ensure that only those who were genuinely employed are retained in the service of government”. The administration, he revealed, would desperately block all leakages in government, explaining that “the era of managing corrupt hands are gone, and this is why the screening exercise is relevant as it would see that only those who were genuinely employed are retained in the service of government” he noted.
The government was going to restructure all the sectors of the economy of the state. This, according to him, was meant to ensure performance as government has high premium for high productivity.
The Nigerian Pilot has confirmed that the screening exercise was ongoing, though the findings of the committee have not been made public as they are yet to conclude their work. However a source close to the committee revealed that “if the committee really wants to do a thorough job as directed by the governor instead of sweeping things under the carpet, terrible revelations would be made and the state government would save cost. But if the committee does not want to carry out a thorough job as expected, the aim would be defeated”, he said.

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