The Senate has dropped the planned probe of its members for job scam after it was discovered that both the leadership and all the senators were involved the sharing of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs’) employment slots among their families and friends.
The lid was blown off the scandal yesterday when the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs discarded the probe of allegations of secret recruitment and job racketeering in the MDAs.
It was discovered that all members of the Senate including the leadership were involved in the scandal.
In fact, members of the Upper Legislative Chamber admitted their involvement in the recruitment scam that attracted serious criticisms from Nigerians last October.
While justifying its action, the Senate said that there was nothing wrong in putting up a system that allows senators to source jobs for their constituents through a particular committee of the Red Chamber.
The chairman of the Senate committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator Danjuma La’ah, admitted that his panel was being used to share jobs that have been sourced by the Senate among the lawmakers.
In an interview with journalists at the National Assembly, La’ah said: “There is nothing wrong in senators approaching the Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs to seek job placement for their unemployed constituents.
“It is normal for colleagues (senators) to come to our committee because it is a better way to go about it. What our committee will do is to ensure that all senatorial districts are equally captured in whatever arrangement that comes up. It is not as if we are giving out letters of employment to anyone now.” he explained.
According to La’ah, “what I’m saying is that if any senator approaches us and there is an opportunity, we would help. The senators are coming to us because we are the only committee to ensure even spread in terms of federal appointment.”
He also confirmed that the Senate had been inviting the MDAs for questioning on their recruitment processes.
“The MDAs have been honouring our invitations to explain the recruitment exercises they carried out. We have told them to adhere strictly to the federal character principles. We have also told them to always carry the Federal Character Commission along before they finalise any internal recruitment,” the lawmaker added.
LEADERSHIP recalls that shortly after its inauguration, the Senate was hit by a recruitment scandal in which its leadership was accused of having diverted 190 job slots from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
As many Senators moved to protest the anomaly, the Ahmed Lawan leadership was said to have directed the Federal Character Committee to initiate moves with other MDAs to source jobs for subsequent sharing among the legislators.
It was learnt that so far every senator has benefitted at least three job slots through the La’ah committee.
Interestingly, it was this same La’ah committee which threatened to investigate the job recruitment scandal and sanction defaulting agencies last October.
The lawmaker had boasted that he would not succumb to any pressure from the Senate leadership to soft pedal on the investigation.
La’ah had promised that there would be no sacred cows, saying: “I don’t care who they have given job slots to. Is it the leadership that will give them the backing? The leadership knows that I am capable of doing my job. That is why they gave me that responsibility.”
The lawmaker had stated that “I am using my sense to fish out the bad elements. It is not a leadership directive. There are rules and regulations guiding us as a committee. The affected agencies should present themselves for clearance because I will not take it easy. Our people have suffered in bondage for long.
“I am not aware that any agency gave out employment slots to the Senate. The leadership has not told us that they received any slot. So, who did they give? As the chairman of this committee, who is also representing Kaduna South, I was not in any way aware that we have been given any employment slots. So, we are going ahead with our probe. I have taken it upon myself that I will probe deeply into the agencies’ claims. We are going to expose all those that are tarnishing the image of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said.