We Are Restoring Sanity To Delta State Civil Service —Okwuofu

CHIEF (Mrs.) Patience NkemOkwuofu is a seasoned administrator of note and a quintessential politician
whose contributions to the administrative and political development of Delta State is legendary. She had occupied various sensitive positions in the governance of the statein the past where she used her administrative ingenuities to deliver the core mandate of the responsibilities attached to her position to the admiration of Deltans across religious, political and ethnic divides. By the special grace of God, today, she is the Chairman of Delta State Civil Service Commission.
In this exclusive interview with The Pointer trio of Josiah Ogoegbunam, Sunday Egede and Okeoghene
Edeku, Chief Okwuofu spoke on a wide range of issues bordering on the state civil service, including the recently conducted promotion examination.
Excerpts
Recently,promotion examination was conducted for civil servants in Delta State civil service who were due for provision. Ma, what actually informedgovernment’s
decision to conduct examination for such civil servants instead of using only promotion interview determine their suitability for promotion?
This is not the first time that we are conducting promotion examination for civil servants in the state who are due for promotion. When we came on board; that is at the inception of the life span of this particular
Commission, we did promisedcivil servants that we will be doing promotion interviews for them. We assured them that promotion interviews would be conducted and last year, we did the same thing by conducting a written examination for those who were due for promotion before the oral interview was conducted for them. This year’s exercise was the same with that of last year.
We met a backlog of promotions that were not done for civil servants and that was why we came up with the idea of organizing promotion examination. Last year, we have to take a backlog of promotions from 2005 up till 2015 that were not conducted and it was the same pattern that was used in conducting the promotion exercise. They had a refresher course of three days before writing the promotion examination last year. Lecturers were on ground to lecture officers who were due for promotion for the three days and by Saturday of that year,they did a formal examination
(written exam) to complete the cycle.
This year again, the governor approved some amount of money for us to conduct that of 2016 and that was what we did this time that you came in to see during the examination. Again, before this year’s promotion examination, a formal refresher course was, also organize for those who took part in the examinationwhere a council of consultantsmade up of retired Heads of Services, retired Permanent Secretaries of Delta State origin were brought in to handle the programme (refresher course). Everything
went smoothly for the three days that the refresher
course lasted and it was capped up again on Saturday with the written examination. Everything went on smoothly and we were quite happy at the conduct of the officers that took the exams and again the conduct of the staff of the state Civil Service Commission
who assisted in invigilating the examination. We use the opportunity of this promotion examination
to also thank all officers who participated in this year’s promotion examination for their conduct which is exactly what we wanted to see. We congratulate
them in advance because we know that many of them will pass. What we really had was a compulsory exam for officers on salary grade levels fiveto 10 who are due for promotion.In this exam that they did, officers on salary grades 5-6 were 342 candidates, salary grades 7-8 were 565 candidates, while those on salary grades 9-10 were 881 candidates making it a total of 1,788 civil servants that took part in the promotion refresher course exam.
Madam, what will be the fate of those who may not be able to meet up with the score needed to move ahead at the end of the day?
I pray that they will all pass.However, we expect some failures. What we did last year when we had some failures was to encourage the very few candidates
who failed, to join the people who wrote this year’s promotion examination so that they will still have the opportunity to write and pass. I better let you know that the promotion exercise does not end with the written examination. Just as they have gone through the refresher course and have done the written examination, they will still come to do the promotion interview proper. When the resource persons finish marking and give us their script, the candidates will be invited for oral examination.So, it is two parts, written and oral and at the end of the two exercises, that is when we shall really know those who have passed or failed. By the time we finish with the markings of the written examination,they will come for oral interview where we shall encourage them to do well if they are in the low score area so that they can cover up in the oral. Those who may not be able to meet up with the standard after the oral interview will be asked to join the next set to repeat the process to enable them measure up. The essence of this is to maintain a high level standard in the state civil service so that at the end of the day, we will be proud to say that we produced people who can defend whatever level they are progressing to in the service. At the end of the day, they themselves will, also, be proud of themselves that they went through rigorous exercise to be of a particular standard.
Which area were they actually examined?
They were examined in a lot of areas to cover what is expected of civil servants. The civil service rules and regulations were covered. A lot of areas were covered by the resource persons. So, they covered all the areas that they were expected to cover. A syllabus covering all that they were expected to knowwas given to them.
Is the government interested in sustaining this promotion examination in the years ahead?
Yes, we will definitely sustain it because the state governor, Senator IfeanyiOkowa is interested in the quality of civil servants in the state and he has been graciously approving what we ask for to get it done correctly.So, there is no reason why it should not be sustained at all.
What is the Commission doing towards ensuring
that Delta State Civil Service stand tall among civil service in the federation in terms of discipline and high productivity index?
This particular Commission
came in with amotive of bringing thecivil
servants in the state to a standard level by creatinga standard for them.We have taken some measures that had restored sanity in the system.
Some persons have been dismissed within the time wehave been here in the Commission whilesome have been reprimanded depending on the degree of the offence
that they committed.
We have resolved not to entertain any type of corruption in our time in the Commission.Once wesuspect anything, we investigate it.We got reports
or protests from civil servantson existence
of fakecertificates that were circulating in the system among professionals
withANAN, ICAN and certificates of other professional bodies
that check taxation andrevenues and we didn’t just listen to them, we went into action by setting up acommittee within the system with selected people drawn from all the MDAsas members of the committee and they were asked to look at the authenticity or otherwise of the claim. So, when theissue of protest came within the professional areas, we decided toimmediately investigate
it and the report has just came to us. We willnot speak more on it because we have not presented it to the governorhimself but after the presentation to the governor, we can come up with arevelation of some areas that has been exposed to us and what to doabout them will be the next question. We can only tell you that afterpresenting it to the governor.There are vital revelations from thatcommittee and we have thanked them for doing a good job for us. Weintend to clean up a lot of things within the system once it comes tous and we are working towards that so that at the end of the day, Delta State Civil Service would stand tall among the civil service in the country.
The issue of fake primary six certificates abound in the system andthat was as a result of Herkabella wanting to see primary sixcertificates before clearing
civil servants in the state who appeared before Herkabella’s Committee for sreening. Because of this, there seems to be a cabal issuing fake primary six certificates tocivil servants.Weare still investigating the matter and until the investigation is concluded, we may not say anything for now. We have picked up a lot of fake primary six certificates; fake primary six certificate is easy to identify when you look at it. Wise people don’tparade fake certificates because people go to prison for it.
What is the name of the committee that just presented its report to the Commission?
It is the verification committee put up to verify professionalcertificates like ICAN and ANAN.
What is the Commission’s plan towards capacity building of the state workforce vis-à-vis training and re-training programmes?
The Okowa administration sincerely believes in building the capacity of the state workforce to stimulate the performance of workers in the state for enhanced productivity. To this end, the commission
would continue to place high premium on staff development through training and re-training programmes
for civil servants in the state in line with the policy directive of the state government