The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, illegally hired at least 396 more than the number approved by the Federal Character Commission, in a highly secretive process that benefitted relatives of President Muhammadu Buhari and ministers in his cabinet, PREMIUM TIMES can confirm today.
Although the Commission granted waiver for 513 people to be employed without advertisement as required by law, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that CBN raised the number to 909.
Many beneficiaries of the crooked process were family members of senior government officials, serving and past.
The acting FCC chairman, Shettima Abba, said in a response to PREMIUM TIMES’ enquiry that the waiver granted the CBN was for the recruitment of specific number employees.
Controversy over the recruitment scandal, first exposed by the news website, Sahara Reporters, has compelled the Character Commission to drastically review the number of employment opportunities for which government agencies could be granted waiver.
While large organisations now have a limit of 100, smaller ones have 50.
Henceforth, the Commission said there would no longer be waivers in respect of chief executives, directors and other top management positions.
Besides, its state offices have been empowered to monitor the recruitment of junior staff of agencies with specific guidelines that candidates were sourced from the catchment areas of the organisations.
The spokesperson of the Commission, Abdullahi Idris, also told PREMIUM TIMES that following a request by CBN in April 2013, waiver was approved for the recruitment of 275 persons as enterprise risk managers, medical consultants, reserve managers, payment systems configuration, digital media/engagement, international trade and macro prudential and stress testing specialists.
Following the inability of the bank to conclude the recruitment within three months before the expiration of the waiver, Mr. Idris said a fresh request for revalidation was submitted in July 2015 to allow the completion of the process.
He said approval for the revalidation of the previous waiver was issued in September 2015, with a demand to forward to the FCC the character balancing index of the shortlisted candidates, indicating their states of origin, local government, sex, posts and qualification.
Mr. Idris said the Commission in its letter to confirm the issuance of certificate of compliance to the bank had warned against the substitution, replacement and alteration of the names of those issued with letters of appointment without its consent.
Besides, he said the Commission equally demanded that the updated staff nominal roll of the bank be forwarded to it within three months.
Although the nominal roll was still being expected, to confirm the conclusion of the recruitment exercise, the Commission said the CBN in December 2015 came with another request for revalidation of waiver to recruit another 238 specialists into various positions in the bank.
The bank said the fresh set of employees were to support the implementation of some key government initiatives, namely the treasury single account, TSA, increased financial institutions supervision and monitoring of FOREX utilization and other new policy guidelines.
But, the acting chairman of FCC who said the waiver granted CBN was for a specific number, expressed shock that the final figure over-shot what was approved by 398.
“All actions of the Commission in our engagement with MDA’s have in no way granted approval, encouraged or advised the CBN or any MDA to violate, disregard, or circumvent the federal character procedure for recruitment into the federal public service,” the spokesperson of the Commission said.
After several weeks’ wait for clarifications on the exact number recruited as well as submission of the updated nominal roll, the commission said CBN’s response last week was that “the number quoted was not conclusive” as it was still harmonizing the figures from its branches nationwide.
No CBN official was ready to comment further on the issue when our reporter visited the bank on Thursday.
The acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor, said he was not in a position to comment any further on the issue than he did initially.
When the allegation was first reported, Mr. Okoroafor had insisted that the bank did nothing wrong, as it got waiver from the FCC to conduct “targeted recruitment of specialists/experts without advertising.”
Regardless, another senior official of the bank, who asked that his name should not be mentioned, as he was not authorised to speak officially on the issue, told our reporter that the management had barred all staff from commenting on the issue in view of the fact that the matter was currently before the court.
“There is no issue about the recruitment. All records are there that the bank was given waiver to proceed with the exercise without advertisement. Whatever was the so called extra were junior staff from the catchment areas where the CBN branches are located across the country, which does not require advertisement before they are recruited,” the official explained.
The Federal Character Commission Regulation Act, 2008, requires that recruitments into government ministries, departments and agencies must reflect national character spread to ensure that qualified candidates from all sections of the country get equal opportunity of being recruited.
Besides, the law also requires that the recruitment must follow the due process of advertisement in at least two national newspapers giving qualified Nigerians a minimum of six weeks to apply.
But, the CBN recruitment violated those conditions by not reflecting federal character.
Most beneficiaries of the exercise were alleged to be relations of politicians and top government officials, including President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew; Minister of Internal Affairs, Abdulrahman Danbazzau’s son, and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu’s son.
Others included Inspector-General Police, IGP Solomon Arase’s son; former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s daughter, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’aba’s daughter.