• Verification of civil servants in Borno: what next?
    By Shettima Mustapha

    Civil service across the globe remains an indispensable vehicle for governments’ policy formulations, implementation, supervision and coordination. It is frequently described as the room that housed the engine of governance. It follows therefore that the effectiveness and efficiency or otherwise of governance anywhere in the world, is solely dependent on the productivity of the civil service while not totally relegating the influence of political leadership in this regard. To achieve efficiency and effectiveness, governments devise strategies to periodically assess and measure productivity and relevance of the members of their work force.

    Relating this to Nigeria, the civil service over the years has been allowed to deteriorate to the level of derailing from discharging its traditional core mandate of policy formulation, implementation, supervision and coordination. The civil service whether at state or federal level, is being overbloated with ghost workers (a term that is now household name in Nigeria) and redundant ones. Hence the inability of governments to settle workers salary and other emoluments as and when due; and this is further exacerbated by the paucity of resources at the disposal of governments in the face of competing demands particularly in this era of unfolding economic recession.

    Consequently, just like the governments at the centre and many at the state level, Borno state government recently embarked on verification of its workforce to ascertain the legitimate and genuine size of the civil service. The exercise has received commendation from many quarters, describing it as long overdue as it is one of the best steps taken so far by the Borno state government in cleansing the state civil service of the ghost worker syndrome.

    Equally, the exercise is greeted by equal measure of condemnation at some quarters at the same time although not targeting the exercise per se as the process which is characterized by extremely slow pace, particularly the biometric data capture stage of the process—leading to nonpayment of monthly salaries and arrears of workers whose turn is yet to be due. Of course, as at the time of going to press this is case, but workers whose biometric data are already captured will be paid and continue to receive their salaries. This has subjected thousands of legitimate, verifiable and innocent workers to unnecessary economic hardship adding to the hardships already occasioned by the years of insurgency in the state and the cash crunch across the nation.

    However, civil servants who persevered months without salary and public commentators are focusing attention on the aftermath of the unnecessarily lengthy exercise as being spread out by the grapevine has it that over five thousand phantom workers have already been fished out as it is still counting. The source has it that handful of identified government officials allegedly responsible for the syndicated "payroll padding" of the state monthly salary bill by inserting bogus names thereby diverting all the padded value to service their unquenchable greed for cheap wealth at all cost were identified.

    Now that the seemingly unending purgation process appears to be slowly reaching its climax, the questions on the lips of multitude of genuine Borno civil servants in particular as well as public commentators with relation to this process are: what will be the fate of those identified officials allegedly responsible for criminally padding the size of the state workforce thereby raising the monthly salary bill beyond reach? Any plan in place to prosecute and possibly jail those whose guilt will be established? Or as usual, be asked to either quit the service on compulsory retirement only for them to enjoy their padded loot or, in the alternative, transfer such possible culprits to remote and redundant government establishments to cover them up? What about the padded proceed of their atrocities? So is as legitimate wealth as their deceased parents’ estate? Is there nothing like "repatriation" of our common wealth into the state treasury? What government intends to do with the space creates thus far? In this circumstance, is there any hope for the army of jobless youth marching on our streets having detected over five thousand phantom workers? How can this verification be radically different with the previous ones?

    Only time can answer these array of genuine questions asked daily by concern citizens. These questions are more apt and relevant in this era of ‘change begins with me’, a policy statement campaign recently launched by the Federal Government of Nigeria advocating for attitudinal changes in positive ways to make life better and orderly in the midst of suffocating economic recession. Can change begin in Borno with this verification exercise? Only time can tell.

Saturday, October 8, 2016 9:44 PM

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  • Just get it right! -Mustapha Modu Bama

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    Just get it right
    By Mustapha Modu Bama | October 2, 2016, 12:00 pm

    I write with high sense of joy to congratulate the editorial board of Yerwa Express News and everyone involved in taking this giant stride to be in the midst of thousands in the business of information management and dissemination at a time people of Borno and beyond need it the most. Being the first of its kind in the history of Yerwa (Maiduguri) and the entire north-eastern states, if I have not mistaken, Yerwa Express News should emulate the existing prominent newspaper organisations in the quest of disseminating authentic, reliable and timely news stories in and around Borno state.

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