By Ola Ajayi
Ibadan – As the Governor Abiola Ajimobi led administration in Oyo State begins distribution of sack letters to some 662 workers for alleged forgery of results of their West African School Certificates, palpable fear has enveloped the entire public and civil service in the state with the affected workers describing the letters as bad Christmas gifts.
The most affected are workers from the Polytechnic, Ibadan, and its satellite campus at Saki, The Polytechnic, Eruwa, and other tertiary institutions under the state government. Also some civil servants in the Ministries of Education; Information and Culture; Agriculture and Natural Resources; Lands, Science and Technology, Finance, Local Government and Rural Development, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Health and Water Resources are not at peace knowing that the distribution of the letters is still on-going and the declaration by the government that names of other 2,021 workers have been expunged from payroll.
Already, the state government has sent dismissal letters to 24 workers of The Polytechnic, Ibadan. The first batch of the letters which are 18 in number were received by the workers in the institution last week Thursday while another six letters have been sent but are yet to be handed over to the affected workers.
Due to the gradual release of the letters, guilty workers in the institution have been running helter-skelter to some politicians to prevail on the governor to give them soft landing that would enable them to collect gratuities and pensions and also escape possible prosecution.
The affected workers are in two categories. The first category are the ones who have admitted guilt while there are others who claim that their certificates are genuine.
Out of the 662 workers, only forty of them who feel they have genuine certificates have so far gone to the management of the West African Examination Council for the verification of their certificates.
Though, some of them wanted to collect the reports by hand for onward submission to the Head of Service, Mr. Soji Eniade, the examination body reportedly declined to send the reports through them saying such classified reports should be sent straight to the state government.
When one of the affected workers spoke with Vanguard, he wondered why the government failed to do painstaking investigations before declaring that their O level certificates were forged.
According to him, “some of us presented O level results when we were employed. But, we decided to further our education and we discovered that there were some subjects required which we did not do at our first sitting. We had to re-write the papers so that we can be considered for admission. During the screening exercise, some of us added these new results to the former ones we had presented at the point of entry. May be that’s why they declared our results forged.”
“I want to tell you, this is not the kind of gift that one should expect in this Christmas period. It is too traumatising. Since, I got the letter, I have not been myself again. If I forged certificate, I would not have bothered so much because if you do such a thing, you should be expecting anything. Sooner or later, you would be exposed. But, this is the same result I have been using all my life and no one has ever declared it forged. This is no doubt, a great error, on the part of the government. I just hope they clear me on time.”
When the Head of Service (HOS), Mr. Soji Eniade who was flanked by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Bashir Olanrewaju, was announcing the dismissal of the workers, he said that about 684 workers were not found at their duty posts during the last Physical verification Exercise (PVE) carried out in the state.
He said the state government is restructuring the state civil and public service by ascertaining the quality and quantity of the workforce, stressi@ng that the Bank Verification Number (BVN) used to determine the accurate size of the workforce and pensioners exposed that there were 1,432 fictitious state pensioners’ names, 84 fictitious local government pensioners and 505 fictitious workers in the state civil and public service, amounting to 2021.
He stressed further that the state government discovered that 662 personnel on its payroll were in possession of forged WASSCE certificates discovered during the certificate verification handled by Messrs Captain Consulting consultant.
Three hundred and five of the personnel were from the local government, 152 from ministries, 149 from Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), 28 from parastatals and two from the State Universal Basic Education Board.
He further pointed out that 670 workers that were discovered to have submitted forged certificates, 8 out of them resubmitted their WASSCE certificates for re-verification while the remaining 662 had been summarily dismissed and the onus is now on them to prove that the WASSCE certificates in their possession are original.
The HOS said that the exercise would be a continuous one as the consultant is expected to extend the verification to higher institution certificates submitted by the state civil and public servants and consequently urged the workers who are still in the service to voluntarily resign as the government will deal with them within the ambit of the law.
He said, “I am an advocate of some of the private sector practices to be injected into the public and civil service in the state. The level of decadence in the system is embarrassing and this cannot continue.
“What the government is doing is called self-check. There is financial check, institutional check, quality check et al. Any organization or even individual that wants to progress must engage in self-check as standard practice.
“The government engaged the services of a consultant and this is the same consultant used by the previous administration.
“We do not want any interference and that is why we have engaged a third party to weed out the bad ones amongst us all. In 2013, workers with fake certificates were dismissed and it is a continuous process which the government will see to the end.
“We are using the exercise to determine the quality and the quantity, right size, of the workforce for efficiency, prompt salary payment, and service delivery to restore the lost glory of the public and civil service. Initially, we had a total of 670 and 8 out of them have represented their certificates. We will give them the opportunity of re-verification. We believe in the saying that he who comes to equity, must come with clean hands.
“Also, we have started issuing queries to the personnel that prepared the payrolls where fictitious names were discovered.
“We want them to tell us where they generated the names and explain why disciplinary actions should not be taken against them,” the HOS added.
When Vanguard called the State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Waheed Olojede, said “I have met with the Head of Service, Mr. Soji Eniade about the workers who have gone to WAEC to confirm authenticity of their certificates. He told me that 40 workers have gone to WAEC to verify their results and their reports would be forwarded to the consultant”.
“Those workers who have gone to WAEC to authenticate their certificates should be given fair hearing and where their claims are genuine, they should be let off the hook,” he said.
Speaking further, the NLC leader in the state said that others who know that they have genuine cases should go and verify their certificates and address the reports to the Head of Service.
Vanguard gathered that some of the affected workers who know that they are guilty of the allegation have gone into hiding because the government has threatened to prosecute them and collect all the salaries and entitlements they had been paid over the years.