Senate has blown the lid on how top managers of 13 federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) collude with outsiders to run illegal cash-for-job rackets in their organisations.
The MDAs include: Ministry of Interior, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Examination Council of Nigeria (NECO), Joint Admission and Matriculation Board(JAMB), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Nigeria Meteorological Institute.
Others are Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Chairman of the Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Dahiru Awaisu Kuta, yesterday said the Senate has been inundated with lots of petitions from victims.
The Senate thereafter mandated the Federal Character and Employment, Labour and Productivity Committees to investigate the scam. He disclosed this yesterday at the opening of a two-day public hearing on employment irregularities in federal establishments.
“There have been complaints of lopsidedness in the recent recruitment in our para-military organisations, including the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC ), the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) etc. In particular, it is alleged the the latest recruitment into the NIS had been substantially from one geo-political zone.
“There are complaints of abuse of the federal character principle in the recent employment at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Examination Council of Nigeria (NECO), Joint Admission and Matriculation Board(JAMB), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Nigeria Meteorological Agency, etc.
“Records available to us show that in 2011 alone, the NSCDC discovered well ver 500 illegal recruits. They indicate that these have been flushed out and are being prosecuted…This is after discovering fake appointment letters in their files. Some officers and men of the corps have been discovered in this scam.
“Recruitment scam has also been reportedly discovered at the NCS. Here, an illegal recruitment syndicate has defrauded innocent candidates with the connivance of some officers and men of the NCS. It has also been reported that the NCS has discovered the involvement of some commercial banks and some NYSC members who connive with these fraudsters to open accounts which are being used to defraud job-seekers.”
A mild drama ensued at the public hearing when petitioners suddenly developed cold feet and refused to own up before the committee. Attempts by Kuta, the joint committee chairman, to persuade the petitioners that they would be protected by the Senate failed. Almost immediately, Kuta repeatedly called out names of some people who had earlier petitioned regarding the scam to the joint committee, but no one was ready to own up.
This prompted the co-Chairman, Senator Wilson Ake, to offer another form of protection to the petitioners. He said: “Please, prepare your documents very well. We will take you in camera at a later date because we understand that some of you may not want to come out now to talk because of fear of stigmatization, that they may not offer you any job anywhere in Nigeria.
“We will map out time to take those petitioners separately…” Earlier, while opening the public hearing, Senate President David Mark fingered heads of MDAs, the military and para-military as worst culprits in the cash-for-job scam.
He bemoaned a situation where heads of MDAs employ their relations and jettison federal character and merit. “We are generally concerned about the issue of job insecurity in the MDAs. Similarly, we are concerned that people who have found themselves in position of authority think first about their immediate relations, other extended family members and not the best and the most competent.
“Most heads of federal establishments secure for their relations unwarranted advantaged favour which they are not ordinarily legally or morally entitled to. This is a manifestation of a corrupt society where there is no equity or fairness. Heads of ministries, departments, agencies, military and para-military organisations are all guilty of this.”
Chairman of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Shuaib Oba AbdulRahman, informed the Senate that, “the Ministry of Interior opened a website and directed people to deposit their CVs there without indicating what position they are applying for. That kind of action will drive these young men and women into the hands of fraudsters. The sources of the so-called employment scam falls into two categories. They are by whatever name illegal and therefore subject to prosecution under the criminal law of Nigeria for anybody found guilty.
“Now, MDAs that are engaged in recruitment cause these problems by practising what we have identified as clandestine recruitment exercise without due consultations and in non-compliance with the guidelines provided by the Federal Character Commission. Some of the employing agencies hide under the guise of recruiting casual staff, temporary staff and engage in replacement of substitutes.
“By whatever name called, these are also recruitments and, therefore, they are subject to the extant guidelines of the FCC but where agencies have failed to do this, of course they open the gates for opportunists both within and out of the system which they operate.
“As far as recruitment scams go on within the organizations, there are few people who as a result of greed, lack of patriotism want to exploit the very delicate circumstance of Nigeria. So, if we look closely inwards, the institutions would be able to fish out bad eggs among themselves and be able to curb these things.
“As far as the FCC is concerned, we have taken our own steps; because of our own vigilance, we have been able to fish out bad eggs within our system and I can say to you that a junior staff in the commission that have gone into compliance with one of the uniformed bodies who is already serving a prison term.
“There are scammers on the internet who open websites to attract and deceive unsuspecting job-seekers. This again falls outside the control of the chief executives. Now, we must call on the law enforcement agencies to collaborate with those who are recruiting fish out these kind of people for punishment”, he said.