The clamour for the implementation of the Act creating the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Civil Service Commission has assumed a frightening dimension but what is clear, though over sighted by most of the agitators is that, it is not everything that is expedient that may be truly beneficially.
Many welcomed the signing into law by the President Muhammadu Buhari who assented to the Act passed by the parliament in 2018 because it was well intention, but its implementation met its cull de sac when put vis-a-vis with the provisions in the 1999 Constitution as regard the creation of the Federal Civil Service Commission.
The fact is that the Federal Capital Territory Administration came into existence on the 31st December, 2004 by the proclamation of the Federal Capital Territory (Establishment of Functionaries and Departments) and Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory Dissolution Order No.1, 2004 otherwise known as “Order 1, 2004″.
The Order 1, 2004 also dissolved the erstwhile Ministry of the Federal Capital Administration, abolished the postion of the Permanent Secretary and created Mandate Ssecretariats which are to function as Ministries in states and some Agencies.
The Order 1, 2004 had been operational in the administration of the FCT with some modifications anticipated in Section 14 which provides inter Alia that “the Minister may, with the approval of the President, modifies or amends this order as he may deem necessary in furtherance of the efficient execution of the intention expressed in the preamble hereto.
In the course of time and based on necessity, the Office of the Permanent Secretary was restored since 2005 in appreciation of the fact that the administration of the FCT as provided in the Section 302 is a Ministerial System where the President in exercise of the provision and powers conferred upon him by the section 147 of this Constitution, appoints for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja a Minister who shall exercise such powers and perform such functions as may be delegated to him by the President from time to time.
Functional requirements also at that time necessitated structural reviews to some of the provisions of the order 1, 2004 due to the challenges of the absence of other enabling laws or necessary administrative reviews.
For instance, the positions of the Secretary and Legal Adviser provided for Mandate Secretariats was never implemented while the post for Head of Finance and Administration has been upgraded to a Director on GL.17 and currently serves as administrative heads in the Mandate Secretariats and the sub-accounting officers. This was not envisaged in the Order 1, 2004 which designated the Mandate Secretaries as Accounting Officers.
In the same vein, the Mandate Secretariats have since been increased to eight.
It is important to note that the Order 1, 2004 from its inception appeared to oversight the career progression of the civil servant, hence no provision was made for advancement beyond the GL17.
In fact, the implementation of the Order 1, 2004 would ensure that the administrative positions in the Mandate Secretariats might not progress up to GL.17, since the position of the Secretary and Legal Adviser was provided.
It is true today that this career gap has become a point of grave concern to the FCT Civil Servants and stakeholders.
As part of the frameworks initiated to safeguard the career management in the FCT Civil Service Commission, the Act of which was passed into law and accented to in 2018 is yet to be implemented.
Unknown to advocates of its implementation the Civil Service Commission is a constitutional body which implementation in the FCT system, if deemed appropriate ought not to require the passage of an act of parliament.
The act as passed by the National Assembly however overstretched responsibilities of the FCT Civil Service Commission at section 7C to include:
A. “Advise the Minister on policies relating to the Civil Service of the FCT;
B. The administrative functions of Departments in the Civil Service of the FCT;
C. The conditions of service of employees generally including the ranks and grades of officers and employees;
D. The scales or salaries, emoluments, benefits, and allowances of the various classes or officers and employees;
E. The employment, appointment, promotions, transfers, discharge .and other career issues of the civil service in the FCT;
F. Strict adherence to the principles enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
G. Application of labour laws and relations in the Civil Service of the FCT;
H. Ensuring that disciplinary measures are adhered to in the Civil Service of the FCT;
I. Information management and technology in the Civil Service of the FCT, and
J. Any other issue which in it’s opinion will facilitate the administrative performance of the Civil Service of the FCT.
It should be noted that some of the above listed functions go beyond the approved; Appointment, Promotion, and Discipline (APD) functions provisioned in the Third Schedule, Part 1, Section 1 for the Federal Civil Service Commission and Part 2, Section A for the State Civil Service Commission in the 1999 Constitution as Amended as follows:
(a) appoints persons to offices in the state, and
(b) dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding such offices.
(c) And Sub-Section1(2) provides that the Commission shall not exercise any of it’s powers under sub-paragraph(1) of this paragraph in respect of such offices of heads of divisions of Ministries or of departments of the Government of the state as may from time to time be designated by an order made by the Governor except after consultation with the Head of the Civil Service of the state.
The Part 1 Section1(3) of the 1999 Constitution as Amended inter alia provides that “if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, the Constitution shall prevail and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void”.
Regrettably, many of the agitators for the implementations of the Act appeared ignorant of the provisions of the documents which for all intent and purposes cannot address the career concerns of the staff of FCTA.
This position is clear because in attempting to implement the Act, the following measures must be taken into consideration to avoid a Constitutional crisis which will render it a nullity;
(A) The Constitution did not expressly declare the FCT as a State but rather “as if it were one of the States of the Federation” etc.
(B) It must also be realized that the FCT is a component of the Federal Government administration and ought not to have a separate Civil Service, the same way it does not have a separate Bureau of Public Procurement or Executive Council. Furthermore, while the laws of the State are called Bills that of the FCT are Acts, etc.. It therefore appears that the intentions of the crafters of our Constitution is that there should be only a Federal Civil Service for the entire Federal Service which includes the FCT.
Therefore, an FCT Civil Service Commission cannot perform the functions listed in number B- D and F, because the performance of the responsibilities do not fall within the constitutional responsibilities of a Civil Service Commission. In fact, matters on salaries and emoluments referred to in D is clearly the mandate of the NSIWC and cannot be undertaken by a Civil Service Commission. The performance of the responsibility at H shall be limited to what is required to perform its responsibilities of the APD and not for the entire FCT system. Finally, in consideration of the inconsistencies of powers provided in the Act with the constitutional provisions for a Civil Service Commission, the exercise of these powers will amount to a nullity.
The way forward, is simple, because from the foregoing, which is self-explanatory, both the Order 1,2004 and the FCT Civil Service Commission Act 2018 have not addressed the career issues of the Civil Servants in FCTA and thus excessive energies been expended on agitation for the implementation of the FCT Civil Service Commission Act appears to be overkill. It is therefore expected that provisions of the FCT Civil Service Commission Act which runs contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution should be expunged because of their inconsistencies.
Again, it is also important to note that the creation of cadres is the prerogative of the National Council on Establishment for which the Civil service Commission is not a member. The Civil Service Commission have no such powers to create vacancies because only to recruit, appoint and promote when vacancies are duly declared by appropriate authorities.
As the Way Forward, rather than resort to agitation, the core stakeholders must engage on a review of FCT administrative structure with the view to address the quagmires put in place by successive administrations, albeit unintentionally, by removing the clog placed in the career progression of the staff of the FCT and restore to them, the rights accorded them by the Federal Civil Service, which rightly they are part of.
Therefore, the implementation of the Way Forward enumerated above will go a long way in addressing the career matters of civil servants in the FCTA and promote efficiency in the FCT Civil Service for the good of all stakeholders.