On Thursday, May 21, Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan,slammed a suspension order on the State Chairman of the state Civil Service Commission, Emmanuel Tetsola, and members of the commission. The Governor said the Chairman and his commissioners had failed woefully in the recent recruitment exercise carried out by the commission. He cited gross mismanagement of the exercise and the failure of the Chairman to adhere to principles guiding recruitment into the state civil service.In a statement made available to journalists in Asaba, Secretary to the State Government, Ovuozorie Macaulay, said an administrative panel of inquiry had also been set up to look into the anomalies committed by the Chairman and members of the commission to review the exercise and look at loop holes therein. The SSG said the suspension became necessary as“the recruitment exercise which was to address some vacancies in the service and respond to the employment needs of the state, has, however,been abused and ridiculously mismanaged by the Civil Service Commission”.

He said the allegation of gross misconduct against the commission were embarrassing to the state government. Ovouzorie said the commissioners abused the privilege given to them and there was massive fraud in the entire exercise. The fraudulent activities culminated in the massive sale of appointment letters to the highest bidders in the state. Hence,he said many members of the commission are currently under going interrogation by security agencies to ascertain their level of complicity in the fraud.

Many Deltans have commended the government for this action. This is so because a lot of fraud is regularly committed by the commission any time the state is set for a recruitment exercise. The commission sees any recruitment exercise as an opportunity to milk innocent Deltans and enrich their private pockets. On most occasions, the commission would place adverts for vacancies but before the vacancies are advertised,they had already been filled by persons who will never seat for any test. Hence, the advertisement becomes a show to the 'blind' people of Delta State to show they have advertised for vacancies in the state.The current exercise which was the last straw that broke the camel's back began in November 2013. Not less than 120,000 Deltans applied for the vacancies. But the Governor made it known that the vacancies were meant for only 986 successful applicants who would scale through the competitive recruitment test that would be conducted by the commission.The commission placed N1000 on each application describing it as processing fee. But with much pressure from journalists in the state,who questioned the governor during a media chat on the rationale for theN1000, the governor directed the Chairman to refund the N1000 to the applicants. The announcement of refund was made, it is still unclear whether the commission actually refunded the N1000 to the applicants or not.

A competitive test was called early 2014 but somehow, the number of applicants overshot the expectation of the commission, hence the test was called off with a promise of new date to be announced in due course.That new date had remained a mystery throughout 2014 till March this year. The former Head of Service, Paul Evuarherhe, on several occasions gave assurance to the people that the recruitment exercise was reaching advanced stage and that Deltans should not lose hope but that applicants would still be invited for the interview. But hope was gradually fading out as the waiting lasted.

For many months, there was total silence regarding the recruitment exercise. And in March this year, the commission shortlisted 1800 names as successful applicants and requested them to come to the commission with their credentials for screening and eventual presentation of appointment letters. Many Deltans were baffled questioning when the commission carried out the test where the 1800 persons were deemed to have passed the commission's placement test.While heads were wagging over the criteria leading to the selection of the 1800 names, the commission again bypassed the 1800 candidates and began selling appointment letters whosoever will in Delta and probablyany highest bidder from across the Niger. More worrisome was it that persons who did not apply for the recruitments were those the commission gave appointment letters. As at the time the vacancies were advertised,many of the persons given letters were undergoing the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), some never dreamed of joining the service and others were in other engagement and never applied for the recruitment.

It was learnt that the employment letters were put on sale by the commission. The highest bidders go for the jobs. Besides the highest bidders going for the jobs, relations of the commission's members,senior staff of the commission, members of the state executive council,members of the State House of Assembly, Head of Service and other powerful politicians hijacked the employment letters and brought in persons who could only afford their request. The recruitment exercise became a jamboree in the state. The appointment letters were sold at different rates. Some sold for N200,000, N300,000, N500, 000 and others went for N800, 000 in that order.

It was even alleged that some persons bought the appointment letters forN1.2m. It was also said that the Director of Recruitment in the commission is currently in police custody for his role in the exercise.Further investigation revealed that some of the appointment letters were fake as the scammers could not access the originals which were signed by the state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.

But it is important to state that employment in Delta as far as the tate civil service is concerned is majorly a business of the powers that be. An applicant who approached a former member of the state house of assembly for assistance told our correspondent that he was told that the employment was in the hands of members of the state house of assembly, saying the vacancies had been shared and they have sole authority to give the slots to whosoever they will. On several occasions, people who resume offices after recruitments are different from people who sit for placement examinations in the state civil service.

Many Deltans have therefore called for a total cancellation of the employment since it did not follow due process. Besides cancelling the entire employment, others said the culprits, including the Chairman and members, should be arrested and made to face the wrath of the law.Others explain the exercise to be impunity of the highest order as Delta State has never carried out any true recruitment that is free of fraud

Written by Austin Oyede

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