The recent removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has continued to face mixed reactions forcing governments to find better alternatives of reducing hardship on its citizens. In this interview, the Head of Service Yobe State, Alhaji Garba Bilal, speaks on the new employment of 3,763 applicants into the state civil service and other issues.
You’re working under Governor Mai Mala Buni as Head of the Civil Service, how has the journey been?
It is tedious but interesting. The most interesting part of it is that, once you are working with a focused and pragmatic leader that motivates you to do better, things will not only be easy but accomplishing.
You know, the civil service is the instrument of government for the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects leveraging on efficient aggregation and deployment of human and material resources.
His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Yobe State, Hon. Mai Mala Buni CON has been trying his best to ensure that human and material resources are provided so that the workers can put in their best for the overall development of our dear state, Yobe.
Recently, a good number of applicants were employed into the state civil service, is it part of the effort to cushion the effects of removal of fuel subsidy?
Yes, the removal of the fuel subsidy has affected all spheres of human endeavour and looking at our recovery process from the Boko Haram insurgency, the government is coming up with plans that would cushion the hardship being faced by our people.
Apart from food palliatives and empowerment programmes, recently, the Governor graciously approved the employment of 2,670 Degree/Higher National Diploma (HND), National Certificate of Education (NCE) and National Diploma holders to be employed cutting across all the 178 political wards of the state. Each ward was asked to provide not less than 5 candidates who are holders of the aforementioned qualifications for the purpose of the employment.
As you are aware, some of our local government areas have 12 wards, some 11, some even 13. So out of all these we have employed 890 Degree/HND holders, 890 NCE holders and 890 ND holders, and biometric data capture exercise has commenced.
In the present political era, or dispensation, for a government to employ 2,670 Degree/HND, NCE and ND holders is a great achievement by the government of His Excellency Hon. Mai Mala Buni CON, bearing in mind the current economic situation in the country.
Not only that, the Governor has again approved the employment of another 700 personnel in order to reposition the state civil service to enable it respond to the socio-economic and political dynamics of the moment.
The 700 that were employed comprises 250 Degree/HND holders, 150 NCE holders, 150 ND holders and 150 SSCE holders. I am happy to inform you that they are currently doing their documentation, while others are collecting their appointment letters, indeed His Excellency, Hon. Mai Mala Buni is working and Yobe is responding.
As we face out the biometric of the 2,670 applicants employed, the next batch of the 700 would move in for the same exercise.
It is no longer news that fuel subsidy has been removed and life is becoming unbearable hence these employments approved by the His Excellency, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, the people’s governor will go a long way in enhancing the living standards and livelihoods of the beneficiaries and their dependents.
Early this year, former President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned one of the largest Maternal and Child Hospital in Damaturu and is about to commence operation, do you have enough personnel to man the facility?
You see, the hospital which is located at the Yobe State University Teaching Hospital Damaturu, is one of the largest Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospitals in Nigeria.
As I’ve said, His Excellency Honourable Mai Mala Buni has approved the employment of 373 healthcare personnel of different professions including consultants of different specialties to man the newly established maternal and child hospital named after the Late Governor, Senator Mamman Bello Ali.
Furthermore, Yobe Ambulance services and Yobe Healthcare Regulatory agencies were also established recently and the Governor has also approved the employment of personnel to those agencies. This is in addition to the deployment of some professional staff to the two organizations for mentorship of the newly employed staff.
Still, if you look at the issue of manpower development in Yobe state with all sincerity, His Excellency the Executive Governor is really doing well in order to make life more bearable to the citizens.
If you go to the health sector for instance, a lot of health and allied workers, medical doctors, nurses among others have been employed by this government all with the view to ensuring that healthcare services are brought to the door steps of the common man in Yobe state.
As a matter of fact, Governor Mai Mala Buni is a man with a human heart and his government is humane because this kind of magnanimity that he has shown to the people of the Yobe state is unprecedented.
Has the Governor been recognized by any institution at any level over his human capital development initiatives in the state?
Oh yes! His Excellency, Hon. Mai Mala Buni because of the passion he has for human capital development, the National headquarters of the Nigeria Civil Service Union presented him with an award as the pillar of modern Yobe as far as human capital development is concerned.
There is no way civil service can work effectively and efficiently without a harmonious working relationship with labour unions.
It is against this background that, the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour studies (MINILS) Ilorin in Kwara state awarded His Excellency as the fellow of the National Labour Institute (fnls) because of his robust action plans on labour matter and workers’ welfare since his assumption of office as the democratically elected Governor of Yobe state.
Most of the civil servants employed in the former Borno and transferred their services to Yobe state upon creation are retiring, how do you cope with the challenges of qualified manpower?
A lot of hue and cry has been made that the civil servants who moved from former Borno to Yobe state have retired. If you look at it, what the governor is currently doing towards bridging the gap is a great achievement towards reforming and repositioning the state’s civil service.
What the Governor did, sincerely speaking, is unprecedented in the history of Yobe state.
A lot of states are still owing workers’ salary arrears, what is the situation in Yobe state?
Here in Yobe, the situation is entirely different because His Excellency has been doing everything humanly possible to ensure that salaries of all civil servants are paid as at when due and everyone is a living witness to that. He ensures both salaries and gratuities of retirees are computed and paid accordingly.
Coming to the newly employed staff, is there any plan to train them before posting to their places of assignment?
The governor has directed that immediately after the completion of the biometric data capture exercise, there’s going to be a special training for all of them. We are not going to train them here in Yobe, we will take them to the public service Institute of Nigeria in Abuja, while others to the National Teachers’ Institute or send them to Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) for better results.
Just last month, His Excellency, The Executive Governor of Yobe State Hon. Mai Mala Buni CON approved funds, where 76 senior, middle and junior level staff were send to ASCON. This is a boost as far as productivity in the civil service is concerned.
The aim is to acquaint them with requisite knowledge that will translate government’s policies and programmes into action
Finally, looking at the economic meltdown, do you think your government has the capacity to pay the salaries of the newly employed workers?
I want to assure you that the administration of His Excellency Hon. Mai Mala Buni CON is always proactive and hardly does anything without proper planning. There is enough resources to cater the newly employed personnel.
Look, people of Yobe State are lucky to have a kind hearted and humane leader whose passion is to ensure good governance, effective service delivery, transparency, accountability and prudent financial management.