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Promotion system in the federal civil service

Higher salary also usually accompanies promotion but the change in the service status which the promotion entails is much more fundamental, in my view.Of course,…

Higher salary also usually accompanies promotion but the change in the service status which the promotion entails is much more fundamental, in my view.
Of course, there are rules, procedures and principles of determining eligibility for promotion in the civil service. The right qualification, the period prescribed in the scheme of service for an employee to serve on a grade, satisfactory performance of duty as well as good conduct, passing of examinations and interview. The seniority and merit principles are taken into consideration quite significantly with even handed fairness to ensure that resourcefulness and competence are given weight in the promotion exercise. The Federal Civil Service Commission which is vested with the authority of promotion will carefully and critically consider all cognate factors before reaching a decision on individual cases of promotion.
The Commission approves notional promotions in situations where the officers concerned are seconded to other organizations such as Foreign Service Officers deployed to United Nations Agencies for two or more years. If their colleagues on the ground are promoted, they are also granted promotion notionally so that their seniority in the service is not impaired. Salary does not come in at all as they are placed on a different scale in the UN system which may even be more advantageous compared to the earnings of their colleagues at home. Any leave of absence that is officially approved can attract promotion. I was on study leave without pay from 1981 to 1983 and earned notional promotion to GL13 from GL12 when my colleagues were actually promoted. I enjoyed the remuneration of the new grade upon resumption of duty at the end of the leave.
 The Commission also strictly approves notional promotions to deserving officers who meet all the criteria for promotion but there are no established vacancies against which they will be held in their respective Ministries. The funds to pay for the new grades are not appropriated in the budget. The promotion cannot thus, be immediately actualized. To all intents and purposes, such notional promotions are given to reward hardworking officers whose morale should not be dampened by postponing their due promotion to an indefinite period. If the financial situation of their ministry improves and the vacancies created, some of the notional promotions, if not all could be actualized through payment of arrears against the notional date earlier announced. This is quite a significant principle of fairness and justice which the Commission upholds in treating cases of promotion.
Essentially and conventio-nally too, the notional date is the effective date of the promotion for records, order of seniority and other purposes. As an illustration, an officer promoted notionally in 1998 who suddenly died in 2003 without the promotion actualized, would nonetheless be paid death gratuity and other entitlements based on the new grade to which he was notionally promoted. While I am not an advocate of the recently prescribed eight year on a grade additional retirement criterion, I believe the notional rather than the actual promotion date of its victims will be picked. There is no doubt that on the whole, notional promotion offers contentment and far reaching prestige in view of the higher status conferred which outweighs immediate pecuniary advantage. It ensures not only fairness by not delaying promotions that are due but also enhances the dignity of those promoted in their struggle for self-actualization.
A critical examination of the definition of “notional” and its antonym “actual” will not be out of place now in the light of the extensional meaning given to the words by legal luminaries as opposed to the intentional meaning within the civil service context. These are official jargons which have indeed stood the test of time until recently when legal interpretations altered, if not twisted their routine usage. In an effort to remove semantic cobwebs and boldly underline the significance of the two intrinsically related promotions, the word ‘effective’ may replace ‘notional’ while ‘factual’ or even ‘tangible’ will be good substitutes for ‘actual’. Broadly, there are other words which can be adopted to avoid the inherent nature of speculation or imagination reflected by ‘notional’ as ‘actual’ connotes reality and tends to be much more recognized. Otherwise, there will be need for the National Council on Establishments, the Federal Civil Service Commission and other stakeholders to consider the issues at stake and come up with policy statement which unambiguously clarifies the difference between notional and actual promotion vis-à-vis effective date and pecuniary advantage.

Ambassador Sani, mni, wrote from Sharada Quar-ters, Kano
<[email protected]>;

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