Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, has explained why disciplinary actions were yet to be taken against officials said to have masterminded the controversial reinstatement and subsequent posting of the embattled former Chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, into the service.
Oyo-Ita, fielding questions from newsmen at a press conference to outline the achievements of her office in the last one year, on Tuesday, said investigations were still ongoing both at the Presidency and the National Assembly on Maina’s issue and that the matter is now before a court of competent jurisdiction.
In her words, “Yes the Maina issue is a controversial one but I will also inform you that right now there is already an investigation exercise going on both at the Presidency level and National Assembly level. The Senate Committee and the House Committee have set up an investigation on that. And recently there is a court case still on the issue.
“So, with all these investigative machineries in process and a court case which you know that once a matter is in court it becomes subjudise. There is really not much one can say or do in terms of disciplinary action or whatever. The matter is already being investigated at the highest level both at the executive and the legislative levels and now the judiciary.”
Also, Oyo-Ita disclosed that the father of quintuplets delivered last year, Imudia Uduehi, who was at the time unemployed, got his employment letter last week in addition to a three bedroom flat given under the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Scheme.
Uduehi, father of the quintuplets who is a graduate from the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, was posted to one of the agencies in the Federal Civil Service.
According to Oyo-Ita, “The FISH programme was able to provide him and his family with a three bedroom bongalow in one of the estates. And we promised him a job at that time and I am happy to tell you that Mr. Imudia got his employment letter last week, so you can call him and confirm.”
Maina was in 2013 recommended for dismissal by the Federal Civil Service Commission following a recommendation by the Office of the Head of Service.
In 2012, Maina was accused of leading a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion.
He was drafted by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2010 to sanitise a corrupt pension system.
Based on the allegation of corruption, Maina was invited by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration.
The Press Secretary to the Minister of Interior, Ehisienmen Osaigbovo, in a statement had exonerated the minister as having a hand in the controversial posting, saying Maina was posted to the Ministry of Interior by the Office of the Head of Service on an Acting capacity to fill a vacancy created following the retirement of the Director heading the Human Resources Department in the Ministry.
Mrs. Oyo-Ita, in compliance with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive had submitted a report on the recall of Maina.
Oyo-Ita said although the Federal Civil Service Commission was working hard to tackle the issue of illegal recruitments into the service, some Nigerians would rather continue to play smart.
She explained that the development forced the commission to introduce some stringent measures.
She said the measures were applied in the cases of 285 persons recently recruited which led to the discovery that some of them were illegally recruited.
She also disclosed that the suspension of tenure rule was a presidential directive and is still in force.
Oyo-Ita disclosed that her office recently settled out of court the outstanding promotion examination issue for Deputy Directors (Administration) which has been pending for three years.
The number one civil servant said the promotion examination to the post of Director (Administration) was subsequently held in collaboration with the FCSC, last Thursday.
She also disclosed that approval had been granted for the restructuring of some offices for effective service.
She listed the affected offices to include the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, National Agency for Great Green Wall, Nigeria Immigration Service, Pharmacist Council of Nigeria, National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, Optometrist and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board, Nigeria Institute of Soil Science and Corporate Affairs Commission.
She, however, did not give details of the approved restructuring.
Oyo-Ita said over 23,000 applications had been receiving from civil servants under the Federal Integrated Staff Housing launched in 2016 to reduce the cost of houses, thereby making them affordable for workers.
According to her, more than 20 developers have been selected into the scheme and their 1,500 housing units have been uploaded.
She added, “In furtherance of this objective of affordable housing, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, through the Federal Housing Loan Board also initiated a Home Renovation Scheme to provide funds for public servants to renovate their homes.
“In addition, the lending capacity of the primary mortgage institutions has been enhanced with the signing of MoU for N13bn refinancing facility by FISH-P, FGSLHB and the Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company.”
Oyo-Ita also disclosed that the government had commenced the payment of outstanding promotion arrears and other entitlements to the accounts of beneficiaries.
She said some of the outstanding claims and arrears owed public servants had accumulated as far back as 2012.
She added that a Performance Management System has been developed for the public service in order to enhance professionalism and meritocracy.
The PMS tools, she explained, are currently being test-run in her office and the Ministry of Agriculture.
She explained that after the exercise, a validation meeting of stakeholders will be held for presentation to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval.
Oyo-Ita also identified the key challenges facing the civil service to include paucity and untimely release of funds for programmes, lack of requisite training for civil servants, shortage of staff with requisite skills and shortage of modern office equipment.