Hadi Sirika, Buhari’s Aviation Minister
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency (NCAA) has repeatedly violated the Federal Character Act and subverted due process in its recruitment of staff in the eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Documents seen by Daily Sun indicate that between August 2015 and April 2023, a total number of 280 workers were recruited into the agency, with 84 percent of this number coming from the northern part of Nigeria and 16 percent from the Southern.
Sections 14.3 and 14.4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that there shall be no ‘predominance of persons from a few states or ethnic or other sectional groups’ in the Federal Government and its agencies. The first two functions of the Federal Character Act also state that the Commission is to work out an equitable formula, subject to the approval of the president, for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the civil and public service of the federation and of the states. The Act is to function to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government.
However, a breakdown of the figures in the documents seen by Daily Sun, shows that within the eight-year period, 45 persons came from Katsina alone, the home state of the outgoing Minister for Aviation and Aerospace, Hadi Sirika, and about 37 persons whose state of origin is Kaduna were recruited, while about 12 are from Jigawa. The total number of those recruited into the NCAA from the northern part of Nigeria during this eight-year period is 235, while in contrast, 45 people were recruited from the southern part, with the South West having 20, South South, 15 and South East 10.
Very reliable sources within the NCAA also told Daily Sun that in violation of the law establishing the Federal Character Commission which mandates that vacancies for positions in the Federal Civil Service be advertised in one Southern and one Northern paper for a period of six weeks, no external vacancies are usually advertised by the management of the agency.
Daily Sun also understands that in most cases, staff who have been made stagnant are not made aware when there is a vacancy so they can apply for it.
“If for instance, you want to employ someone on level 15, you first advertise internally, it’s in the public service rule and it’s even in our condition of service. When there is vacancy, you advertise internally so that those who are qualified will write the exam, it is when you don’t have those qualified internally that you advertise externally. But what they do here is that they just bring in people who don’t have the experience and place them on level 12 and above.
“Usually in civil service, if you’re a fresh graduate, you start at level eight even if you don’t have experience but if you have some experience, you can start at level nine with your first degree. If you have your masters degree, you can come in at level nine, but if you have masters degree with sufficient experience, you can come in at level 10. If you have PhD and you are just coming in, you naturally should be level 10 but because you are likely to have had work experience, you can come in at 12.
“But in this case, some of those who were recruited this year and moved to level 12 couldn’t properly fill the forms they were given and had to depend on people to fill it for them. There are people who were brought in about two years ago with no experience at all and they were placed on level 12. Even the Director of Human resources is usually handicapped in such situations because when the list comes from the Minister, levels and positions are attached to them. Usually, it is the HR that determines the position and posting, but in NCAA, a powerful entity sends a list and tells you which position they should be assigned to.
“There was a time, during the administration of the late NCAA DG, Capt. Muktar Usman, such recruitments were done, and the unions raised issues because the conditions of service of existing workers had not been implemented, people were not being promoted. What’s the late DG asked is if those employed weren’t Nigerians,” the source said.
When Daily Sun reached out to the spokesperson of NCAA, Sam Adurogboye to react to the report, he said he said he was not aware that any ongoing recruitment. Repeated violation
In 2021, Daily Sun exclusively reported how the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) recruited 35 candidates as Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) with insiders alleging that majority of them were from northern part of the country and about 18 from Katsina State.
Daily Sun learnt that the recruitment process was not only lopsided but also shrouded in secrecy following the management’s inability to advertise the vacancies. A source told Daily Sun that it was the first time such recruitment of ATCOs in particular was happening in NAMA. The source further said the workers were told that management was able to get approval from the Federal Character Commission because it was allegedly told that what was being done was ‘not a recruitment but replacement.’
Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu of NCAA
About four years ago, the outgoing minister was also accused of being responsible for a similar lopsided recruitment into the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) when the agency needed security officers in all airports especially Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Abuja.
Daily Sun gathered that at the time, FAAN had concluded interviews in all the airports and wanted to give priority to those who were already working as causal staff in the different states because they were used to the terrain.
But an insider told Daily Sun that after FAAN had concluded the interviews for the candidates, “The minister’s list suddenly emerged from the blues with majority of candidates on the list from the north and about 300 from Katsina alone.”
According to them, although the minister’s candidates didn’t go through any interview, they were given appointment letters and told to camp. After they were redeployed to different states from Katsina, most of them couldn’t cope. “How can you carry a level four officer from Katsina to Port Harcourt, how would they cope financially? Most of them returned to Katsina and they are there doing nothing. They just go to their farms and collect salaries at the end of the month because Katisna doesn’t have a busy airport,” the source said.
NASS steps in
To forestall such occurrence in the future, a bill seeking to ensure strict compliance with the provisions and principles of federal character in employment and vacancies by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) passed second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The private member bill sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson, seeks to amend the National Directorate of Employment Act, Cap. N28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
In his lead debate on the general principles of the bill, Hon. Johnson who frowned at the abuse of the extant policy argued that appointments in virtually all facet of the nation’s economy has not followed the tenet of the provisions of the Federal Character Commission.
The proponent of the bill seeks to mend Section 2 of the NDE Principal Act by inserting a new paragraph which stipulates that: “ensure that in implementing the process of providing opportunity for the mass unemployment in the country, the principles and provisions of federal character Commission Act is strictly followed to give adequate opportunity to every section of the country.”
He further proposed amendment to subsection 2(c) by inserting a new subsection which stipulates that NDE shall “obtain and maintain a databank on employment and vacancies in the country, with a view to acting as a clearing house to link job seekers with vacancies, in collaboration with other government agencies.”
Source: Daily Sun