10th July, 2012
Members of the Oyo State House of Assembly were today split over the recent sack of 3,000 civil servants in the state, forcing the Speaker, Monsurat Sunmonu to adjourn sitting till Thursday.
But they unanimously commended the Governor Abiola Ajimobi government for making a bold move to sanitise the system by purging it of bad eggs.
Appearing before the House to clarify issues on the sack were: the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. Adeolu Akande, the Head of Service, Alhaji Tajudeen Aremu and Chairman of the state Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), Alhaji Abu Gbadamosi.
Dr. Akande, who spoke first, told the lawmakers that the audit which identified the workers with questionable records of service was commissioned by the Adebayo Alao-Akala administration and executed by a consultancy firm called Captain Consultin.
According to him, the audit report identified over 3,000 workers involved in falsification of academic certificates, falsification of age and personal data, having outstanding disciplinary cases and the non-existing staff popularly called ghost workers.
He said that government, apart from setting up a panel headed by the Head of Service to look into the matter, also approached Captain Consultin to sign an indemnity that if any staff was dismissed based on the report of the firm and the person was adjudged wrongfully dismissed by the court, it (the firm) would be responsible for the damages awarded to such claimant.
This, Dr. Akande said, was a further test of the integrity of the report as the firm duly signed the undertaking.
Besides, he said that Governor Ajimobi still went a step further by sending the report to the Civil Service Commission and the Ministry of Establishment and Training for review.
“When the commission and the ministry submitted their reports, the government set up another panel comprising the Head of Service, Ministry of Establishment and Training, Civil Service Commission, Ministry of Justice and Teaching Service Commission to further review the report. It was after this third review that the government executed the report of the staff audit,” he submitted.
The Chief of Staff further explained that the claims of wrongful dismissals by some of the affected workers necessitated the setting up of an 11-man panel by the governor with a representative of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to review such claims.
Also speaking, the Head of Service, Alhaji Aremu also told the lawmakers that former Governor Alao-Akala, who commissioned the audit, failed to implement it because of the election that was fast approaching then.
He described age and certificate falsification as serious offences in the civil service, saying that they should not be treated with kid gloves.
The submissions by the duo, however, generated heated debates among the lawmakers, with some condemning the timing of government’s action while others hailed the exercise as necessary to rid the civil service of corrupt elements.
While some lawmakers said that it was a shame that the House could have any of its members canvassing that those who falsified their documents should be retained in the system, some of the lawmakers said that the timing of the sack was wrong as students in various schools in the state were on the verge of writing their examinations.
Segun Adeyemo from Ibarapa, while tasking his colleagues to tread softly on the matter, asked them to do away with sentiments on the issue and approach it from the point of view of objectivity, stating that former Governor Alao-Akala himself was concerned about the issue of questionable service records of some civil servants hence the commissioning of the auditing of staff.
His position was seconded by the Chief Whip of the House, Abiodun Adigun Hammed representing Akinyele State Constituency II and Segun Ajanaku who said that the issue of forgery was too delicate for the House to support.
When there was an apparent division in the House, Speaker Sunmonu, citing House Rule Page 44, set up a committee headed by Ajanaku, House Committee on Education, the Minority Leader, Ibrahim Bolomope, Fatai Salam and Kehinde Subair to reconcile the divergent opinions on the issue and report to the House before adjourning the meeting.