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By NBF News
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Tension is now mounting at the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) due to alleged lopsided staff recruitment. There is disquiet among the members of staff of the organisation who felt it was conducted without due process. LEADERSHIP investigations also revealed that the Mrs. Sharon Adefunke Kasali-led PEF did not reflect the Federal Character Act in the recruitment of 74  new employees: most of the 36 states of the federation were not represented.

Tension is also brewing at PEF over impending promotion of staff as some staff members are alleging that it is lopsided and may generate bad blood when the list is eventually released.

The new employees, LEADERSHIP further learnt, started work in January 2013.

It was also gathered that PEF did not advertise vacancies in two major national newspapers or ask applicants to apply, and process such applications for six weeks in line with the statutes regulating recruitment in the public service.

But the development is contrary to section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which stipulates that the composition of the workforce of the federal government and its ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) must reflect the federal character of the country and promote national unity.

The Federal Character Commission (FCC) was established to give effect to the said section.

The section states that, 'The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or any of its agencies.'

Out of the 24 members of the junior staff recruited, only eight states were represented. The details are as follows:  Abuja (9), Lagos (7), Kaduna (2), Imo (2), Kogi (1), Kwara (1), Ondo (1) and Rivers (1).

The situation is further compounded at the senior category level as, out of the 50 employed for this cadre, only 12 states were represented with Abuja leading them. The distribution of the new employees from the concerned states shows Abuja (22), Lagos (16), Rivers (2), Bayelsa (1), Gombe (1), Kano (1), Ebonyi (1), Imo (1), Enugu (1), Zamfara (1), Anambra (1) and Kwara (1).

LEADERSHIP also learnt that some of the applicants who felt short-changed had petitioned the Senate and the Federal Character Commission over the issue while the two bodies are presently looking into the grievances of the applicants. The petition to the bodies was dated January 21, 2013, while the Senate and the FCC received the petition on January 22, 2013.

The applicants had alleged that the recruitment was done secretly and further claimed that they possessed the necessary qualifications to earn the PEF jobs.

When contacted, the PEF's general manager, corporate services, Mr. Goody Nnadi, denied the claims of recruitment without due process, saying that the vacancies  were advertised in national newspapers.