EXCLUSIVE: Nigeria’s Federal Civil Service Boils Over Alleged Presidential Waiver on Directors’ Appointments

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A waiver purportedly granted by the presidency has led to the appointment of unqualified directors for the federal service.

Eseduwo Famuno, a Director in charge of Recruitment in the Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC, may well epitomize the ugly face of the absurdities that have characterized the Nigerian Federal Civil Service.

Mr. Famuno’s appointment as director in 2013, barely 12 years after his first appointment, has stirred a raging storm that is threatening to tear the service apart and halt the ongoing reform in the Public service and the Federal Government’s so-called transformation agenda.

From a Grade Level 08 officer in 2002, Mr. Famuno’s rare climb to the top, about 14 years ahead of 2028 when he would normally have been qualified to be made director, has elicited calls for a reversal from aggrieved seniors, most of whom have stagnated as deputy directors for almost eight years.

A detailed career progression chart analysed by this newspaper showed that Mr. Famuno, who joined the service with a post-graduate diploma in Public Administration/Local Government shortly after his mandatory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, service year in 2001, had his first promotion as Senior Executive Officer (GL 09) in 2004.

His second promotion as Principal Executive Officer 11 (GL 10) was three years later in 2007, followed by his third, as Principal Administrative Officer (GL 12) in 2010, and fourth, as Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (GL 13) in 2013.

But rather than grow through the ranks, becoming Chief Administrative Officer (GL 14), Assistant Director (GL 15), Deputy Director (GL 16) and Director (GL 17) in about 2028, Mr. Famuno was curiously made director in 2013, ahead of many more superiors, older and more experienced in the service.

A purported waiver granted by President Goodluck Jonathan, insiders say, has now granted him accelerated leap, which rendered irrelevant the path of a normal career progression that should have seen him become Assistant Director (GL 15) by 2020; Deputy Director (GL 16) by 2024, and substantive Director (GL 17) by 2028.

But Mr. Famuno was only one of 15 beneficiaries of the controversial presidential gesture originally said to have been for the “special interest” of two states and the Federal Capital Territory, classified as “disadvantaged” at the Directorate level in the Federal civil service.

The waiver appears to have ignored an existing directive issued during the late Musa Yar’adua administration stipulating eight years tenure for directors in the Federal civil service.

PREMIUM TIMES investigations reveal that although there are several deputy directors in the service who are stuck in that position for more than eight years waiting for their promotion as directors, some top officials in the Federal Civil Service Commission were said to have capitalized on the waiver to foist a scheme to hijack the positions for their wards in the states.

The officials, consisting Commissioners and Chairmen in the Commission, were said to have relied on the controversial waiver to appoint new directors on transfer of service from their states to fill the positions.

Contrary to Part 11, Section 6 of the FCSC guidelines on appointments, letters of appointment were said to have been issued to the new directors, irrespective of the fact that some of the deputy directors, who are due for promotion for the past eight years, have already been interviewed, while promotion examinations for others are tentatively scheduled for next month, or latest by June.

With the new directors already in place since 2013, insiders say the outcome of the pending promotion examinations for the deputy directors is a mere formality that won’t see any of them promoted.

But some of the affected deputy directors told our reporter they were not going to fold their arms and watch their career progression stalled through official brinkmanship by some privileged vested interests.

“We would not allow our careers to be cut short by the so-called presidential waiver,” one of the affected deputy directors, who asked that his identity be protected for fear of victimization, told PREMIUM TIMES.

“Why would anyone transfer the service of persons from the states, some of whom, ordinarily, would not even be qualified to be appointed as directors until about 2017 or 2018, and usurp our positions in the Federal Civil Service?” he lamented.

The aggrieved deputy directors were said to have protested to the Chairman of the Commission, Joan Ayo, demanding a reversal of Mr. Famuno’s appointment to Assistant Chief Administrative Officer “to correct the observed serious administrative error of judgment by the sub-committee that conducted the controversial recruitment exercise”.

“If not reversed, the development would set a dangerous precedence that is not in consonance with the ongoing reform in the Public service and the transformation agenda of the Federal Government,” the deputy directors said.

Out of the 15 officers appointed as substantive Directors after transferring services from the states, at least eight did not meet the requirements for direct appointments as Directors in the Federal Civil Service.

The officers, appointed director in 2013, joined the service between 1989 and 2002. They should be due for appointment as Directors between 2016 and 2028.

Despite the protests by the affected deputy directors, the Commission has frustrated all attempts to ensure that the issue was reviewed, as it has deliberately avoided tabling the matter for open deliberation at relevant meetings.

Those familiar with the practice in the service said an appointee who transfers his or her service from the state usually assumes the position in the Federal Civil Service, which is a level lower than his or her former position.

A close review of the service credentials of some of the newly appointed directors revealed brazen irregularities, which are contrary to laid down rules and regulations in the Public Service Rules, Scheme of Service, Federal Civil Service Commission guidelines on appointments and promotion as well as government circulars.

While the scheme of service emphasizes career progression in service, both the Federal Civil Service Commission’s guidelines on appointments (Parts 11 & 111) and Public Service Rules No. 020506 section 1-6 stress cognate experience for appointment to senior positions in service.

The Establishment Circular B53304/1 of March 19, 1997, states that “serving officers to be accepted on transfer into the Federal Service from the State government and other scheduled government agencies should be placed on the post they would have attained by normal promotion as provided in the scheme of service of the cadre, if they had joined the Federal Civil Service in the first instance.”

The aggrieved deputy directors are said to have sent a strongly worded memo to the Chairman of the Commission demanding immediate reversal of the controversial appointments to either deputy directors, chief administrative officers or assistant Chief administrative officers.

The irregularly appointed directors the aggrieved officials want demoted to deputy directors include Musa Talie, who joined the service in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology, and should be due for appointment as director by 2016, after at least 27 years in service.

The others are Chukwu Dennis, who joined the service in 1990 with a Higher National Diploma in Marketing and Master of Business Administration, MBA. He should be due for appointment as director in 2019, after putting in 29 years in service.

Onogo Bernard, who joined the service in 1993, has 2017 as his due date for appointment as director, after 24 years in service.

Those recommended for reversal to Chief Administrative Officers include Aduda Gabriel and Afe Idowu, who joined the service in 1996, and should be due for appointment as directors in 2023, after 27 years in service.

Similarly, the complainants want Alo Williams, who joined the service in 1997 with a post-graduate diploma in Public Relations, demoted to the position of Chief Administrative Officer.

He should be due for appointment as director in 2025, after 28 years, while Fashedemi Peter, who joined the service in 1999, should be due for appointment as director in 2026, after 27 years in service.

A Freedom of Information request by PREMIUM TIMES to the Chairman of the FCSC, Joan Ayo, on March 21, 2014, for details of the processes that led to the controversial appointment of the directors was not responded to after several assurances.

Spokesperson of the Commission, Joel Oruche, had asked for time to enable the Commission prepare a proper response, but after several appointments, the reporter was told each time each time he visited the letter was not ready.

Mr. Oruche had blamed the delay in responding on the Commission’s 60th anniversary celebrations on Monday and Tuesday. More than a week after the event, the response was still not ready despite two two separate visits to Mr. Oruche on Wednesday and Friday last week.

Spokespersons for President Jonathan were also not available to comment for this story. The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati did not answer or return calls.

The Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the President, Doyin Okupe,also did answer calls to his telephone and is yet to respond to a text message sent to him on Wednesday.

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