Civil servants in Ekiti State yesterday rushed to offices to avoid being sanctioned for lateness.
Their action followed an unscheduled visit by Governor Ayo Fayose to the secretariat on Monday during which he apprehended over 30 workers for lateness.
The civil servants prostrated, knelt down, cried and begged the governor to be merciful, but he directed the Head of Service, Gbenga Faseluka, to begin disciplinary action against them.
According to the Nation. We monitored the resumption of workers at offices yesterday and found out that there was 100 per cent compliance with the 8am deadline.
Our correspondent visited the secretariat, the High Court, judiciary headquarters, House of Assembly and the old Governor’s Office.
At 8am, there was no worker at the Moremi bus stop, Fajuyi, where civil servants, especially women, usually waited for private vehicles, looking for a free ride, popularly called ‘lift’.
Before 8am, some of them were seen running to their offices to beat the resumption deadline. Some civil servants were conveyed to their offices by their husbands.
As the clock ticked towards the resumption time, the car park at the secretariat was filled with vehicles. The same thing happened at the High Court, Assembly complex and the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Fayose’s surprise visit on Monday generated discussion in many parts of the state.
At one of the ministries, one of the workers was overheard telling his colleague in Yoruba language: “O je tete sare, ki Fayose ma da e dubule leni,” meaning: “You better hurry up so that you will not be made to prostrate before Fayose today.”
Being the first day of the month, civil servants in some MDAs organised prayers to mark the day, seeking God’s favour and mercy as they enter the ‘ember months’.
The Nation learnt that fear has gripped the workers caught by Fayose, as they are unsure of their fate. Arrangements are in top gear to set up a disciplinary panel to try them for breaching the civil service rules.
The organised labour has condemned what it called “the persistent lateness of some civil servants to work”.
A statement by the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) Secretary, Oladele Blessing, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Secretary, Olayemi Patrick and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Secretary, Comrade Joseph Adebayo, decried the attitude of public servants to work.
The unions said Monday’s incident was an affront to the image of the civil service and government’s good gesture of building a virile civil service.
They urged the governor to pardon the workers by giving them the last warning, saying they should justify their pay.
Fayose has declared his intention to set up a task force on internally- generated revenue (IGR).
He vowed to punish the officials caught diverting taxes into their pockets.
The governor spoke yesterday at a meeting with the directors of finance and revenue officers in the MDAs.
He enjoined them to block leakages and be innovative by increasing the internally-generated revenue in the next six months.
Fayose said a new tax order was in the offing, warning tax and levy assessors against undermining government’s efforts.
He warned private school owners and business operators to desist from cheating the government by refusing to pay their dues and levies, saying such business premises would be shut.
A human rights activist, Mr. Augustine Ojekudo, yesterday decried the punishment meted out to the civil servants.
Ojekudo, an ex-chairman, Human Rights Committee, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt branch, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt that the corporal punishment the governor meted out, especially by directing them to kneel down, was not necessary.
He noted that the action was not only crude, but condemnable.