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 not known to most of our citizens is that it is not everything that is expedient that may be constitutional.
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 intentioned but its implementation met its cull de sac when put vis-a+vis with the provisions in the 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 also dissolved the erstwhile Ministry of the Federal Capital Administration and also created the Mandate secretariats 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 furtherence 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 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 which actually 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 my its inception appeared to oversight the career progression of the civil servant, hence no provision was made for the advancement beyond the GL17 was embodied.
In fact, the implementation of the Order 1, 2004 would ensured 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.
This is simply because unknown to the advocates of its implementation because being a constitutional body with functions clearly spelt out, its implementation in the FCT system if deemed appropriate does not and 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 Ministeries or of departments of the Government of the state 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, this 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 staffs of the Ministry of the FCT.
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”.
(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 or a separate Bureau of Public Procurement because the laws of the State are called Bills while that of the FCT are Acts etc.
It is expected that the intentions of the Crafters of our Constitution that there should be only a Federal Civil Service Commission for the whole Federal Service which includes the FCT.
Therefore, the FCT Civil Service Commission cannot perform the functions listed in paragraph 8a-d and f because the performance of the responsibilities at paragraph 8h shall be limited to what is required to perform its responsibilities of the APD and not for the entire FCT system.
Also the performance of the responsibilities at paragraph 8c is due clearly the mandate of the NSIWC and cannot be undertaken by a Civil Service Commission, and finally, in consideration of the inconsistencies of powers provided in the Act with the constitutional provisions for a Civil Service Commission, the exercise of this powers will amount to a nullity.
The way forward is simple because from the foregoing which is self explainatory, both the Order 1,2004 and the FCT Civil Service Commission Act 2018 have not addressed the career issues of the Civil Servants in the Ministry of the FCT and the excessive energies been expended on the implementation of the FCT Civil Service Comm inission Act appears today to be an overkill.It is now expected that the provisions of the FCT Civil Service Commission should be espounged altogether as it negates the Constitution because of it’s inconsistencies.
Therefore all stakeholders must engage to douse these agitations in reconsidering the FCT administrative structure with the view to addressing the quagmires put in place by subsequent administration albeit unintentionally by removing the clog placed in the career progression of the staffs of the FCT by restoring to them the rights accorded to them by the Federal Civil Service Act which rightly they are part of.
Again, it is also important that the creation of cadres is noted in the expected appraisal and review of the FCT Civil Service Commission laws are the prerogative of the National Council on Establishment for which the Civil service Commission is not a member and the Civil Service Commission have no such powers to create vacancies because it’s duty is only to award advise of the appropriate authority on vacancies to recruits, appoints and promote.
The implementation of these enumerated ways forward will go a long way in promoting efficiency in the FCT Civil Service for the good of all stakeholders.