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The Worries Of Government Employees 

By Paulinus Ekiti George

Because the private sector is still limping in employment, when youths leave school, they target the public sector for job opportunities. And so their eyes remain open to the press and ears on the radio for job openings popularly called concours advertised by the Public Service.

Once an announcement for "concour" is made, this gives the worries a vent and the flow begins with a long list of documents to meet the recruitment requirements. At that stage, the prospective employees are financially handicap and by affinity, share the headache with their parents. To help the helpless recruits, and as the popular saying goes, to alleviate poverty, it is of prime necessity to reduce the number of the required documents to minimize expenditure by the prospective employees.

Advanced Salaries

The results of a given concour usher in the successful ones into the civil service. Postings are made to various localities of the entire nation. The headache at this stage is the first or advanced salaries. These salaries, in normal circumstances, are expected at the end of the first month in active service. But more often than not, this is wishful thinking. The delay in payment here counts months if not years.

It is understandable that the new recruits need money to function effectively in their new posts. We all know this. When the money fails to come they are then forced into acts of negativity: delinquency, absenteeism etc. which lower input at the detriment tax payers. Why should this continue to happen in this blessed day of technology? Is this egoism, altruism or mere sadism?

Advancement By Longevity

The Public Service regulations stipulate that advancement in seniority is biannual on the completion of mark sheets with favourable grading. The text further spells out that advancement in incremental position shall be automatic after four years of service in the same incremental position, unless deferred as a disciplinary measure.  But the advancement hardly comes under normal prescribed circumstances. One has to go a stressful extra mile to get it. Here, the ministers flout the Public Service regulations.

Reclassification

On the acquisition of a higher certificate in service, making for professional growth, the need to be reclassified or upgraded arises. All things being equal, this could be done with minimum delay where transparency operates the system. But with advertent bottle necks or red tapes along the line, the exercise takes years.

Another element of reclassification is Advancement by seniority and by selection. Many people qualify for this but never, ever get it. This is where you see how our ministers are negligent of regulations. What do we do? We are helpless. But we should acknowledge elements of sadism in the system. The respective ministers should follow the regulations very scrupulously to maximize justice. Situations like this should not be regarded as unimportant because they affect the lives of people adversely.

Duty Allowances

The phenomenon of duty allowance requires no compilation of documents in a transparent system. The appointment Decision should leave the Ministry of origin straight to the Ministry of Finance. In this case, while inserting the duty allowance of the newly appointed, in the same vein, the allowances of those disappointed or relieved of their duties are accordingly scrapped. Many are appointed and never ever receive the said allowances till their departure on retirement.  On the contrary, those disappointed or relieved of their functions continue to receive the duty allowance. This is tantamount to anarchy.

Transfer Requisition

One is transferred to a new post or station. One spends money to compile a series of documents. If one does not go to Yaounde and the services of a middle man aren’t sought, then one has to wait for years on end. One must come to grips with the language of follow-up. And all is opaque, void of transparency.

Retirement Benefits Or Pension

After having served your fatherland for a number of decades, at retirement, you have to continue working stressfully to get your retirement benefits or pension. The head ache here is frontal, the stress is catastrophic, given the prevalence of hypertension at that age. And with these worries, the result may be a stroke. You die without a franc of your money. Such cases abound and our Ministers are aware. But who cares? Egoism prevails. More of the budget goes for self aggrandizement, the purchase of expensive cars and a display of multiple mansions in our cities. This state of affairs is tantamount to sadism.

Transport Claims For The Retired

For transport claims, the names keep piling at the Provincial Service of Finance Control every month as registration for senior citizens continues. And each time one calls at this service, one is either told that there is no money or that the little amount that is there can not pay everybody on the list. The criterion for payment here remains dubious. One waits for years on end and this is dependent on Hobson’s choice.

The Post Office Saga

While in service, one made some savings at the Post Office Savings Bank to replenish one’s meager income at retirement. But today at retirement, the Post Office Savings Bank dictates to you how much they are ready to give you, irrespective of the gravity of your problems, school fees, accommodation, nutrition, social make-up etc..

Administrative Communication: Letters

The factor of administrative letters is apparently dead. All channels appear blocked. One writes an official letter to a Minister, Prime Minister or President of the Republic, scarcely will one get a reply. And with the administrative rigour imposed by centralization, one is compelled to go to the center, Yaounde. And this factor gives rise to the phenomenon of follow up or personal contact. This is where corruption is precipitated.

And if you are an Anglophone with a language problem, you are doomed, for you can’t chase files with a language handicap since bilingualism is still a cripple. At this cross road, there is an evolution of another phenomenon: the middle men. With the inadvertent closure of the channel of administrative correspondence, those who can’t stand the suffocation of chasing files and personal contact, hire the services of the middle men who shuttle between Yaoundé and the Regions.

It is said that, the so called middle men, are in familiar contact with people in various Ministries who charge between thirty and fifty percent of the expected amount or arrears. Is it normal that one gives up such a large sum of money from one’s genuine income, the sweat from one’s brow? God forbids but this is the design of our compatriots. These are some of the worries of Government employees.  Ministers are always heard saying, "according to instructions from the head of state."  Is this nefarious treatment of under privileged compatriots according to instructions from the Head of State?

Change

There is need to examine the status quo very critically and usher in change. There should be a deviation from verbal manipulations to inbuilt pragmatism. Every day we hear of "fighting poverty" and "fighting corruption" according to the instructions from the Head of State but the physical effect is apparently not visible. The only way forward is positive change. All those in the corridors of power must cease to be robots, not only working on instructions but being productively creative. Every minister should seek to clean up his or her individual ministry and rid it of corruption.

Administration must be efficient in the sense that the objectives of policy are securely attained without delay; it must also satisfy the general body of citizens. And in the end analysis, proceed with reasonable regard to ensure a balance between the public interest which must be promoted and the private interest which must be disturbed.

There should be a maximum exploitation of the advantages offered by IT, information technology. This will solve the chronic problem of chasing files in and between various Ministries. Our compatriots should not leave the Regions to chase files in Yaounde. There should be a change to help the helpless and maximize co-existence.
 

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