Mr. Shettima Abba, acting Chairman, Federal Character Commission (FCC), is unwilling to depart from the culture of favouritism and nepotism he has instituted since taking over at the commission. In recent weeks, Mr. Abba’s plan to reward his loyalists with undeserved promotions and placements that defy public service rules and regulations have been exposed.
On 19 February, SaharaReporters published an exposé on Mr. Abba’s grand scheme to push through the service rule-defying promotion and proper placement exercise which, curiously, the Presidency is aware of. The publication of the expose has, however, not deterred the acting FCC Chairman, who proceeded to sign the promotion letters that are currently waiting to be dispatched. Beneficiaries of the promotion exercise, sources told SaharaReporters, include Mr. Abba’s loyalists, who joined the commission on Salary Grade Level 13 between 2010 and 2011
One of such, said a source at the commission, is the incumbent Staff Union Chairman, who doubles as Mr. Abba’s Special Assistant on Media. Currently on Grade Level 14 staff, his promotion to the rank of Deputy Director on Grade Level 16, added the source, was approved by Mr. Abba last week.
This is widely viewed within the FCC as a curious development, as such a leap in rank in the public service is said to be uncommon. Many in the FCC have attributed the promotion to Mr. Abba’s decision to reward the union leader for giving him a free pass to bend service rules as he wishes.
“It is a case of the union and management in a cozy relationship,” said an FCC staff.
The staff also disclosed that another blue-eyed boy of the acting Chairman has been promoted to Grade Level 14, having joined the Commission in 2011 on Grade Level 13 and is currently on Level 14. He has, however, been promoted to Grade Level 15, following his recommendation by the Deputy Director, who heads the Committee on Staff Progression. More curiously, his promotion to Level 15 has been backdated to 2011. The icing on his promotion cake, disclosed the source, is his notional elevation to Level 16 in 2014, but to take effect in 2017.
“This means he reached Level 16 in less than 4 years after joining the commission,” explained the staff.
A staff, who showed our correspondent a copy of his appointment letter, argued that the service rules and regulations prohibit a review or upgrade of appointments after the offer of employment has been accepted. A clause in the appointment letter sighted by SaharaReporters reads: “No appeal for review will be entertained after acceptance of this offer.” The staff added that the FCC’s conditions of service contains a clause that similarly forbids the upgrading or review of appointments.
“What is so special about these staff that the acting Executive Chairman is bending service rules to review their appointments in total defiance of service rules?” asked the bewildered staff.
More bizarre, however, is the case of a Grade Level 13 officer, who has had notional promotions sprinkled on him like confetti. As disclosed by an FCC staff, on account of being Mr. Abba’s loyalist, the officer has had his earlier promotion to Administrative Officer I (Level 9) backdated to notionally take effect in 2001. His promotion to the rank of Senior Administrative Officer (Level 10) has also been illegitimately adjusted to notionally take effect in 2004, with his promotion to Principal Administrative Officer (Level 12) notionally taking effect in 2007. The same officer has also had the added benefit of having his promotion to the rank of Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (Level 13) notionally made effective from 2010, while the one moving him to Chief Administrative Officer (Level 14) took effect, notionally, in 2013. Still the same officer has had his notional promotion to the rank of Assistant Director (Level 15) backdated to 2016, but financially effective in 2017.
According to the staff, who spoke with SaharaReporters, the FCC has over 900 staff, but fewer than 70 were chosen as beneficiaries of the crooked notional promotion and “proper placement” exercise.
Other staff share the same view of the wonky exercise, which flies in the face of the rules and regulations of public service.
“There is an evident disregard for laid down rules and regulations just to favour a handful of loyalists. Despite the ‘Change’ mantra of the Federal Government and its claim of adherence to the rule of law, we have an operating unchecked,” said a disaffected staff.
Many others are demanding an intervention from the Presidency. Failure to intervene, they reasoned, could bring about a situation in which junior officers will be elevated above their superiors. As at the time of filing this report, the Presidency had not reacted to Mr. Abba’s willful disregard of service rules.