CLOCK IN AND CHECK OUT: THE NEW CIVIL SERVICE EVIL

The evil of ghost-workers has remained a cankerworm wrecking unimaginable havoc to the finances of government. Just like its grandfather: corruption, every attempt at fighting this ill seems to muster up reckless muscle to fight back. Though many have attributed the unsuccessful attempt to the lack of sincerity of purpose on the part of the government itself, at all tiers, it is evident that the beneficiaries of the ghost-workers phenomenon who cut all corners to ensure the ill remains unabated, are the civil servants.

The political class on appointment is referred to as “Soldiers” who will always come to the “Barrack” which refers to the civil servants. The soldiers would come to flex their muscles as it were, but at the end of the tenure, that set of political class would certainly vacate their offices to give way to another set which might be unwilling to continue with the programs of its predecessor no matter how laudable and relevant to development and economic growth they may be. Continuity most often is a distant cousin to succession in government. In a situation where every new President, Governor or local government Chairman want to be identified with own projects as landmark of success, the idea of continuity remains grossly abused, acting therefore as the veneer upon which civil servants oscillate.

In Delta State, several attempts have been made to discover and by so doing block the yawning gap from where Millions of Naira of tax payers monies are siphoned annually but every attempt seem to end up at a brick wall because no sooner had one source of pilferage is discovered, than the malevolently dexterous accounting and administrative mafias in government generate another route. There is no gain saying the fact that the Okowa administration has so stridently pursued avenues to eliminate sources of leakages to the chagrin of the usual unrepentant beneficiaries. Of late, after going round schools and LGAs in all 25 Local Government Areas for on the spot head count of teachers and local government workers, the governor and his team introduced the novel idea of clocking in and clocking out as a means of checking truancy among public workers. It is not news that only about 10% of workers in local government councils truly carry on the work of the council while about 90% others loaf, roam or engage in other personal matters such as trading and farming using government official hours and still have the moral audacity to complain of delayed salaries or lack of promotion.

Let it be quickly pointed out here that in management, it is well said that promotion of staff should be based on production and contribution of each personnel to promote the economic growth of an organization. So when this administration discovered the nefarious act of illegal promotion of unmerited people that had been going on erstwhile, it had to act in the interest of the general public. This of course did not go down well with many who were returned to their actual merited positions, and those whose bloated salaries were adequately readjusted, for which reason they now exhibit “bad bele” evil wishes for the government. The question may be asked here, who do they think they are cheating by playing all the financial and administrative pranks that they indulge in? Definitely not the governor, so his actions to correct the perceived anomaly in civil service financial administration is nothing personal. He swore to oath to uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic and act to protect public interest and he is one of the very few governors to have mustered enough will power to look evil and say a resounding “NO” to it.

The new face of evil in civil service now is what I refer to as the “clock in and check out” syndrome. The clocking system was put in place as earlier mentioned to check incessant truancy and abstinence of workers from office and classrooms but rather than help the government help them, and the general public, such workers have devised a means of running (actually, shuttling) to their offices or schools in the morning, clock in (sign in) and then abscond until later in the day when they will zoom back to clock out. This has been happening both in local government councils and in schools without abatement by so many of those charged with the administrative responsibilities of such places. What moral right does a truant have to ask for his wages when in fact, he had earned none. Compared to their counterparts in the private sector, I dare submit that many government officials are over pampered and earn cheap and unmerited salaries. It appears that government only dishes out money in order to keep poverty out of the streets not as a mark of compensation for work done. This is the more reason why civil servants should do some introspection and decide to do their very bit for the progress and financial stability of our state and by extension, nation, else we will continually suffer the parlous state of affairs and keep heaping blame on one successive government or the other. The problem of the nation is with us the citizens. Nigeria is rich enough to take care of our needs but greed, avarice, insincerity and selfishness remain the albatross hanging on our necks and pulling us down.

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