To many who had questioned the modus operandi, terms and condition and the hidden agenda behind the marathon and unending kogi state screening exercise, the widespread rejection and protests that greeted the final release of the much awaited and publicised report of the screening exercise by the state government couple of days ago wasn’t unexpected, neither was the many contradictions and lacuna therein of any surprise. The screening exercise which would have offered an opportunity for the much needed clean up and re-organization of the state civil service was turned into a tool for political witch hunting, revenge and unnecessary vendetta.
The crisis which led to the removal of the leadership of the former screening committee and his subsequent replacement further exposed the fact that the Yahaya Bello administration lacks what it takes to conduct a free and fair staff verification exercise. It is perplexing that the same verification/screening exercise which was done in states like Sokoto, Benue, Plateau, Kwara with much bigger staff strength within weeks and few months in taking forever to conclude in Kogi State. It does not require rocket science to know that the bank verification number (BVN) of workers holds the key to a genuine and successful staff audit and that was what all the states used in cleaning up their civil service. Rather than take advantage of ICT and BVN the state government opted to go the primitive old way which has raised more questions than required of this administration’s hidden agenda to systematically retrench workers under the guise of screening, and the quality of men and women around the “digital governor”
The screening report as released to the public is not only an embarrassment to every sane Kogite, it is also shameful. The “new direction” government of a “digital governor” could not even edit and screen its own report before releasing it; indeed we truly have kindergartens at the helm of affairs in Kogi state. How will a serious government declare majority of its workforce who are presently on study leave within and outside the country as “ghosts” in an era where sane governments are waging a war on brain drain. Previous government complied with the commitment to sponsor workers and academics to study and come back to impact their knowledge to benefit the state in line with international best practice, only for those to be removed from the state’s workforce.
Amongst the several contradictions and controversies therein the kindergarten screening report released by government is that heads of key state owned institutions like the state polytechnics, the kogi state university and many others were either declared “ghosts” or contract staffs. For me, the most embarrassing point of the screening report is the fact that some names appeared both in the “cleared” and “uncleared” list of state workers. Some of the workers who were cleared before were lucky to be in the few that received their salaries up till December 2016 are now tagged as “ghosts”
Although in their usual manner, the state government has reiterated its commitment to pay all “genuine” workers, stressing that the screening was an ongoing exercise as aggrieved persons with “genuine” complains should bring such forward for a redress, the questions on the lips of majority of kogites is; how long would this screening exercise go on? Will we even see the end of these perpetual embarrassment, harassment and severe hardship being meted to the workers under the guise of staff verification in the life span of this administration? What sins have the workers committed against this government to warrant this humiliations, maltreatments and “torture”.
It’s good news that the members of the state house of assembly has finally awaken from their deep “sleep” and rising up to be counted on this matter. An opportunity for them to prove their true representation and loyalty to the people who elected them into office is now.
– Hussain Obaro