PRESENTATION BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INTERIOR , COMRADE ABBA MORO , TO THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR INVESTIGATING THE UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT THAT OCCURRED IN SOME RECRUITMENT CENTRES DURING THE NATION WIDE APTITUDE AND PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF THE NIGERIAN IMMIGRATION SERVICE ON SATURDAY 15TH MARCH 2014.
May I commence this presentation with a profound expression of my sincere and huge sense of loss and grief about the unfortunate and tragic events of Saturday the 15th of March, 2014. I am still pained and saddened by the circumstances leading to the loss of lives in some Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment examination centres.
Kindly allow me to use this medium to once again express my sincere heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the families of the bereaved and to say it is for me a personal loss. May the Almighty God grant us the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.
2. Allow me to express my gratitude to the National Assembly and indeed, the Senate Committee on Interior for affording me this auspicious opportunity to put in proper perspective the circumstances surrounding the e-Recruitment exercise of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) of 15th March, 2014 which unfortunately turned tragic in some centres.
Mr. Chairman, Very Distinguished Senators, permit me to draw your attention to my personal experiences with regards to the recruitment process into the Paramilitary Services under my supervision as Minister of Interior. On my assumption of office as Minister, I took cognisance of the unprecedented challenges facing the recruitment processes, procedures and practice in the Paramilitary Services under the supervision of the Ministry. Such experiences were characterised by incoherent procedures, favouritism, job racketeering and unequal opportunities among others and therefore needed immediate attention.
The noble task before me was to institute measures that would ease the application procedures, enthrone an open and transparent process, allow for equal opportunities, institute a process for the engagement of qualified and deserving persons and also to ensure the reflection of federal character pursuant to applicable federal laws.
In December 2012, the Immigration Service approached me with a waiver for the recruitment of 4,556 personnel from the office of the Head of Service of Nigeria. The conduct of that recruitment was marred by controversy and accusations of tribalism, nepotism, job racketeering and lopsidedness. The exercise was cancelled.
The recruitment procedures into the Services is as contained in the Act establishing the Board and guidelines for Appointment, Promotions and Discipline for use in Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Servicers.
(Annex 1A and 1B)
3. Consequently, upon our public expression of the determination to conduct a more credible exercise, a consultant made a proposal to the Ministry for the adoption of a modern and efficient method of conducting recruitment exercise through the “e-Recruitment Platform.” (Annex II)
The management subsequently constituted a committee to scrutinize the proposal and make recommendations. The committee evaluated the proposal and made recommendations for the adoption of the “e-Recruitment” option after due consultations with relevant government agencies such as the Federal Character Commission for guidance and the Federal Road Safety Commission which had previous experience of “e-Recruitment.” (Annexes IIIA and IIIB) and forwarded its recommendations to the procurement department for action.
In line with part VIII, Para 45(3B) of the Public Procurement Act of 2007, the procurement department invited proposals from three other consultants who were deemed to have the requisite competence and experience in the field under a contractor finance management scheme. (Annex IV).
The procurement department assessed the proposals/business case outlines of the four consultants namely:
I. Messrs Pyrich Global Limited
II. Messrs Bosmos Infotech Limited
III. Messrs Rosebonny Technologies Limited and
IV. Messrs Drexel Technologies Nigeria Limited
and subsequently made recommendations to the Ministerial Tenders Board (MTB).
The Tenders Board of the Ministry considered the proposals of all the consultants at its meeting of 10th April, 2013, and approved the award of the e-Recruitment contract to the Drexel Technologies Nigeria Limited having presented the best proposal in the form of similar job experience, amortization and risk analysis, “to undertake the recruitment project of the Ministry, its Services and its agencies for a period five (5) years. (Annex V).
The contract agreement was signed between the Ministry and the Consultant on April 30th, 2013, and the Board (CDFIPB), the implementation agency was informed accordingly and directed to liaise with the Legal Adviser and Consultant to implement the contract. (Annex VI)
4. Taking cognisance of the successes recorded so far in the administration of the e-Immigration and Expatriate Quota regime, the e-automation of the citizenship and Business Department of the Ministry of Interior, my direction was now focused on replicating these gains and benefits to the recruitment process of the Board, hence the e-recruitment platform. This online web portal constitutes the following features:
– Online application, processing and documentation
– Real time online inquires and status update of applications in-process
– Online interface between the Ministry and other MDA’s on a shared agenda for collaboration
– Data base generation, efficient administration of the application process (e.g. short listing based on eligibility criteria as provided by the Board)
– Build capacity of schedule officers to work effectively on the e-platform and improve efficiency
– Enhancing the overall office procedures of the Civil Defense, Fire, Immigration and Prison Board (CDFIPB) amongst other beneficial features.
5. Our intention was to institutionalize a formidable, transparent recruitment process that will in turn engage and enlist only the best and brightest into the Paramilitary in service to their nation. With sincerity of purpose, I made this a strategic ministerial objective and characterised it as a mandatory deliverable, bearing in mind the challenges of the Nigerian Immigration Recruitment in 2008 and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps of 2012.
In strict compliance with due process and in line with the Public Procurement Act 2007, the Ministerial Tenders Board met and considered the proposals on e-recruitment and approved the award of the e-recruitment contract to Messrs Drexel Technologies Limited as the vendor to provide online based registration, processing of applications for enlistment into the Paramilitary Services of the Ministry of Interior. Drexel Technologies Limited after evaluation was found to be the most responsive vendor in terms of policy content, experience on similar projects and technical competence. The terms and conditions of the contract agreement highlights their scope of work to include:
a. To develop an efficient custom-built e-portal solution for recruitment short listing into the Paramilitary Services,
b. To provide and host an automated custom-built e-recruitment system for the recruitment process,
c. To generate a comprehensive data from the portal to be used as a data bank for future recruitment exercises;
d. To display results of recruitment exercise for the Paramilitary Services and shortlist details of successful candidates, as well as applicants notification via Sms and electronic platforms.
6. On the policy Needs Assessment, on whether the Ministry and Boards can engage a management consultant and justification for processing charges, the Ministry wrote to the Federal Character Commission to ascertain if the Ministry and the Board were within appropriate legal workings of government.
And in response, by a letter dated 11 June, 2013 (Annex VIII) the Federal Character Commission responded in the affirmative and considered it in line with the provisions of the recruitment procedures issued by the commission. The Commission clearly stated that the e-recruitment online application idea was acceptable to it, but advised that applicants who submitted hard copies of applications should also be considered. On the charge of processing fees, the Federal Character Commission also drew the attention of the Ministry to a Service wide circular it issued on the 1st of November 2011, (Annex IX). In Paragraph 3.h of the said letter and I quote “in the event of a candidate being required to buy scratch cards, the cost shall not be more than One Thousand Naira only (N1 000)”.
Officials of the Federal Character Commission met with the Honourable Minister and Officials of the Ministry discussed and agreed on the modalities for implementing the e-recruitment platform.
Accordingly, an agreement was reached and executed with the vendor Messrs Drexel Technologies Limited on the provision of online applications portal and recruitment processing.
7. The ministerial tender’s board subsequently conveyed its approval of the award of the e-recruitment platform to Drexel Technologies Limited to the Board.
In the 36th meeting of the Board held on 23rd of May, 2013, the award of the e-Recruitment contract and its terms were conveyed to the Board which noted and approved the non-involvement of the Ministry, the Board and the Nigerian Immigration Service in the collection of Technology/application processing fees. (Annex X). For the records, members of the board are:
(a)The Minister who shall be Chairman;
(b) One person to represent the Ministry charged with the
responsibility for matters relating to Internal Affairs;
(c) The Director (Comptroller-General) of Immigration;
(d) The Director (Comptroller-General) Prisons Services;
(e)The Commandant General NSCDC
(f) The Controller General FFS
(g) The legal adviser to the Ministry charged with responsibility
for matters relating to Internal Affairs;
(h) Two other persons who shall be full-time members to be
appointed by the President.
8. Subsequently, the Board in implementing the agreement placed advertisements in five (5) national newspapers, on the 9th and 10th September, 2013 announcing the availability of vacancies for recruitment into the Nigeria Immigration Service (Annex XI). Applicants by this advertisement were directed to the portal for commencement of application.
At the close of the portal a total of 710,110 applications were received, while 522,652 were short listed for the aptitude test and physical examination. For the avoidance of doubt, neither the Ministry, the Board, nor the Nigerian Immigration Service was involved in the collection and custody of the processing/technology fees of the application process.
This decision was taken mindful of the fact it was not a business or profit making venture for the Ministry but an exercise to ensure efficiency and transparency in the conduct of recruitment into the services. This e-recruitment platform has also been in use by other services, the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Airforce, Federal Road Safety Commission and the National drug Law enforcement Agency.
Permit me, Mr. Chairman to state here that the power and or authority for appointment, promotion and discipline of the staff in the Services reside with the Board. In line with section 5, subsection(I) of the Immigration Act chapter II of the laws of the Federation of Nigeria, the collection and sorting of the applications was outsourced to the consultant who was authorised in consonance with extant regulations, to charge a processing/technology fee of One Thousand Naira only (N 1000).
The Board in exercise of its duties and functions encapsulated in schedule 3(a)(b) of the Immigration and Prison Board Act as amended laid out all the recruitment procedures necessary to conduct a hitch-free exercise.
The Board in its 40th Meeting of 9th December, 2013 approved the template for use in the aptitude and physical examination across Nigeria. And, in line with Article 2.1.6 on duties and obligations of the Parties in the Agreement under reference, a steering committee for the conduct of the recruitment exercise was emplaced. (Annex XII)
From the 30th of January 2014, the steering committee held series of meetings to make adequate arrangements which included but not limited to publicity, finances, choice of venues, security and facility at venues, examination question papers.
Publicity was mounted and the Comptroller General ensured that various State Commands in conjunction with sister agencies, the Police and Federal Road Safety Commission were on hand to assist. The Federal Character Commission was on ground for observational capacity. Medics were also assembled in all the centres that were secured earlier with relevant authorities. (Annex XIII)
9. On the ill-fated day and it is with a heavy heart that I recall the events of that day, following far-reaching recommendations by the Steering Committee, arrangements had been made towards a successful recruitment exercise. From the accounts available to me regrettably, events turned against all reasonable expectations. We had hoped that our painstaking efforts towards this exercise would avail us the opportunity to add value to the governance process. (Annex XIV)
10. Mr Chairman and Distinguished Senators, we are deeply grieved and saddened about the way events turned out. We express our sincere regrets once again.
However, permit me to state that our patriotic desire was the pursuit of a more honest, a more transparent, a more cost effective, a more efficient and equitable platform.
We sincerely made appropriate and adequate preparations for a hitch -free exercise, but as most things in administrative and human conditions, the yield curve of expected outcome is mostly undefined. My heart goes out to the families of those who have lost their dear loved ones. I sincerely sympathise with those injured. I share in their grief. I share in their pains. May I at this juncture, assure you Distinguished Senators and Nigerians of my respect of the sanctity of human life. The loss of these young Nigerians, who are needed as a critical human resource factor for nation building is most regrettable. As the minister of interior, under whose purview this unfortunate exercise took place, I cannot abdicate my responsibility. The buck stops at my table.
I appreciate your kind audience.
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