By Bassey Udo
Amid questions raised over its alleged lack of transparency in the recruitment process involving 70 new staff, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Monday justified the controversial exercise.
Early this month, an online newspaper (not MEDIATRACNET) accused the extractive industry transparency agency of carrying out a secret recruitment of new staff without following the due process as stipulated in the Public Service Rule.
Section 2 of the PSR on recruitment into the Federal Civil Service requires the vacancies be advertised in the national newspapers for members of the general public to have equal opportunity to participate.
But the report said the recruitment process overlooked this important requirement, as most of the new staff were children of friends, cronies and associates of members of the NEITI Board, including the Executive Secretary, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji who allegedly refused to make the exercise open, inclusive and competitive.
However, at the induction training exercise for the new employees in Abuja on Monday, the NEITI Executive Secretary gave justification for the recruitment, describing criticisms of the exercise as “certainly false, uninformed, misleading and lacking in fair hearing.”
Orji said the recruitment exercise
handled by the Human Resources Committee of the NEITI Board, also known as the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) received all the approvals from the relevant authorities.
He said the recruitment process began in February this year with the review of over 2000 curriculum vitaes in NEITI Database from applicants under NEITI “Leave Application Behind” policy (LAB).
“This is a policy put in place by NEITI over the years to preserve and provide hope for applicants who seek a career in the organization,” Orji said, apparently justifying why the vacancies were not advertised in the national media.
Apart from approval from all relevant authorities for the exercise, Orji said NEITI was also granted a waiver by the Federal Character Commission (FCC) as a result of the huge volumes of applications received.
A review of the applications, he said, showed that 166 candidates were shortlisted and invited for interviews, out of which 145 attended, with 18 absentees and three being disqualified for integrity issues, for failure to show proof of participation in the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) 2021 scheme and disparity in age declarations.
He said candidates’ assessment focused on their areas of qualification, knowledge of intended roles at NEITI, leadership, conflict management, interpersonal skills, team building and computer literacy and proficiency.
“From the assessment, 23 candidates scored 75% and above and made the national merit list, while 36 others that scored between 70-74% fell within the general merit. 82 candidates met the minimum score of 65%, while four candidates who made the minimum score of 65% were considered strictly to address equity in federal character representation,” Orji said.
Apart from adhering to all guidelines for transparent and competitive processes, he said considerations were also given in the recruitment to issues of gender equity and diversity of Nigeria state.
Orji thanked the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and the Federal Character Commission, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning for the budgetary provisions and professional guidance of the recruitment exercise.
Although Orji noted that the controversial recruitment was conducted at a time issues of poor governance, lack of transparency and accountability in the extractive industry are of national and global concerns, especially in Nigeria, he said NEITI was sensitive to its public ethics and commitments to EITI principles and would do everything to preserve the NEITI/EITI brand as an island of integrity and excellence.
He said the new workers consist of young graduates in areas of manpower needs of the agency, namely geology, various aspects of engineering, geo-physics, mathematics, statistics, data analysis, computer science and information technology, communication, theatre arts, accounting, management etc.