• Sunday, December 10, 2023
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C’mtee raises alarm over document forgery by Plateau civil servants

Public service under spotlight as Nigeria’s fiscal crisis worsens

The Plateau committee on staff audit and verification has raised the alarm over what it described as massive falsification of documents by civil servants in the state.

The committee revealed that out of the 13,978 staff verified, 709 either falsified or altered their age, while 673 were wrongly placed, promoted, or converted.

The chairman of the committee, John Gobak, said this while presenting its report to Governor Simon Lalong on Friday at Government House, Jos.

The 18-member committee was inaugurated by the state government on April 20, 2021, to address some of the challenges obstructing service delivery, professionalism, accountability and transparency in the state.

He said that 14,418 officers were said to be in the service whereas only 13, 978 were authenticated, adding that 66 were supposed to retire prior to the inauguration of the committee.

“Some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) surprisingly grant approval to their staff to change their date of birth years after being in service.

“Some were still being paid salaries months after they had disengaged from the service either by death, retirement, transfer, or secondment.

“This is due to failure to timely raise variation orders in that regard or collusion to circumvent the system and or outright acts of misdemeanours.

“Available records at our disposal show that the total staff strength of the 74 MDAs as of December 2021 is 13,806, while that of political appointees is 348, contract staff 429, programme athletes and ad-hoc staff 2,791,” he said.

The committee noted that the support to both Plateau United Football Club and Mighty Jets International Football Club might be flagrantly abused as both clubs were over-bloated.

“Some of the players are old and far spent to provide the needed result in a competitive activity that requires vibrancy and athleticism, which perhaps might have been responsible for their dwindling performance in the Nigerian Professional Football League in recent years,” he said.

The committee recommended that the salary automation unit should have a tripartite supervisory linkage among the offices of the head of the civil service, state auditor-general, and the accountant-general.

It also implored the government to make deliberate efforts to woo private sponsorship to help to sustain the football clubs, adding that all approvals granted for some staff to change their dates of birth be rescinded.

“All employments, placements, conversions, advancements done against the provisions of the schemes of service and other extant circulars as captured in our main report be withdrawn.

“The training bureau in the office of the head of civil service should be upgraded and empowered to handle the manpower development needs of the entire service.

Read also: Abducted Plateau Poly students, one other regained freedom

“Government conducts adequate needs assessment in future employment exercises to ensure uniformity in the spread of officers to be engaged. A medical board should be urgently constituted and empowered to evaluate ailing staff and make appropriate recommendations.

“Auxiliary staff whose jobs are considered obsolete or better sub-contracted for improved productivity should be outsourced to reduce the wage burden on the government,” the committee recommended.

Responding, Lalong thanked the committee for its thorough work and assured them that their recommendations would be swiftly implemented.

He warned affected civil servants against deploying “political connections” to stall implementing recommendations of the report, saying the standing committee on white paper has been directed to immediately take action.

“People think because it is electioneering period so there will be no action, but I assure you we will, we owe it to the progress of the state, our children and the government officials that will come behind us,” he said.

He said that the report will serve as a guide in enabling the state government to resume all promotion processes suspended and lift the ban on recruitment exercises.