The fate of some civil servants who served in various capacities in the administration of former Governor Mohammed Matawalle in Zamfara State hangs in the balance as Governor Dauda Lawal’s government has blocked their salaries.
Like many other states across the federation, successive governments in Zamfara State have always sourced technocrats and professionals from its civil service or federal civil service to fill in certain key positions.
Any time tenure elapses, the appointees would go back to their respective offices and are reinstated into the state payroll except in a situation where a civil servant resigns his appointment to aspire for a political office.
However, almost four months into the Lawal administration, some of Mohammad Matawalle’s appointees are still struggling to get reinstated into the state’s payroll.
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Lukman Majidadi, a former Special Adviser to Matawalle on scholarship and student matters, said that he had satisfied all the requirements before he was appointed by the previous administration.
He added that after leaving office, he wrote to the authority concerned for his reinstatement as the law requires, but he is yet to be reinstated into the state payroll.
Majidadi said, “Every government requires the services of certain technocrats and specialists to support it in achieving its objectives. Governor Matawalle’s administration faced the same challenge and to address the issue, he identified some civil servants from various backgrounds and brought them to hold various positions, which typical politicians couldn’t handle or were not sufficient to handle.
“I requested for a leave of absence without pay to my ministry, which was duly accepted. After the approval, I received a release letter. I followed due process as laid down by the law.
“We also wrote officially after the dissolution of our appointments by the current administration to notify our MDAs of our resumption and then transmit our files for reinstatement and to be placed on the payroll.
“But somebody somewhere directed that our payment should not be resumed. We have been running from pillar to post without knowing our fate.”
Law is explicit
Majidadi added, “Even the current administration has appointed a number of civil servants into various positions, some even from the federal government.”
He, however, pleaded with the state government to do the needful.
He added, “If this is allowed, it will become a norm and certain key positions will be given to career politicians most of whom may not have the requisite technical know-how to contribute to the office for the development of the state.”
Many waiting to be reinstated
Jamilu Haruna Kalale, a former Director General, Ministry of Sports Development under Matawalle, said that he also served in the administration of former Governor Abdulaziz Yari where he was appointed Director General of the Zamfara Scholarship Board but was reinstated into the state civil service after Yari left office.
Kalale said he had spent over four months without a salary since Governor Matawalle lost re-election.
He said, “During the administration of Governor Abdulaziz Yari, I was appointed Director General, Zamfara Scholarship Board. After the expiration of the Yari administration, I wrote to those concerned and I was instantly re-instated. This is very simple, but it has now been twisted for reasons best known to the authorities.
“There are over 100 people waiting for the approval of the government to be reinstated. Some were advisors, directors, permanent secretaries, commissioners to the former governor.”
He said Matawalle’s SSG wrote a memo to the governor, which he approved and appointment letters were issued to them.
“The Secretary to the State Government then wrote a memo and the governor approved it and we were given appointment letters.
“Eighteen of us were elevated to career civil servants. The SSG then wrote a memo and the governor approved it and we were given appointment letters. Thereafter, everything was formalised. But when the new governor assumed office, he rejected the appointments and refused to reinstate us.”
Kalale added that he and his colleagues have been facing “enormous challenges” since their salaries were stopped by the current administration.
He said, “We are in hard times. Schools have resumed, but we can’t send our children to school since we can’t pay the fees. I was told that one of our former colleagues has been hit by a stroke.”
Salary blockage has political undertones
One of the victims, Ibrahim Bello, said the blockage of their salaries had political undertones.
Bello said that they have satisfied all the requirements of the law, saying he sees no reason why they would not be reinstated.
“The law demanded that one reports to his ministry as soon as his appointment expires. I wrote to the Ministry of Finance that I was resuming immediately after leaving office, but I have not been reinstated yet.
“We attended one verification after another, but in the last four months, I have not received any salary.
“When we reported this challenge to the SSG, he asked us to bring lists of all political appointees under Governor Matawalle and civil servants who were not receiving double salary, which is not our responsibility.”
Practice may erode civil service
Bello said the state government was planting a seed of chaos into the state civil service whereby any government may decide to jeopardise civil servants’ careers for political reasons.
We are sanitising the system – Gov’t
Mustafa Jafaru Kaura, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Dauda Lawal on Broadcast, Press and Public Affairs, said the Zamfara State government under Governor Dauda Lawal is sanitising civil service in the state.
He added that the state civil service is infested by all forms of fraud, saying the government is screening civil service to better the system.
Kaura said, “They think their fate hangs in the balance. This is a very simple case. I was once a civil servant and served in the immediate past administration as the Director General of Press Affairs, Zamfara State House of Assembly.
“Such problems occur either because they collected double salaries from the civil service and as political appointees, it is a fraud. The Dauda Lawal administration, which is trying very hard to sanitise the system, cannot accept it.
“They are not the only ones affected by the screening exercise. They are just making too much noise because they think they are being victimised because of some political undertones.
“Other civil servants, who outnumber them by far, who did not even participate in the previous administration are facing the same challenge because they have one issue or the other. They have not received their salaries, either.
“Whether one served under Matawalle or not, there are some infractions, which can block his salary. These include collecting double salary; this can easily be traced because of BVN. The government must verify to know why. Second, in its effort to sanitise the payroll, the government has discovered fraud. You know the previous administration couldn’t pay salaries for three months.
“Governor Dauda Lawal as a business administrator cannot accept this mess. They should put it at the back of their minds that they are not being victimised because they served in the previous administration”.