14 January 2013

Nigeria: FRCN - Stakeholders Fret Over Personnel Strength

Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) is currently grappling with the challenge of overstaffing, THISDAY findings have revealed.

The employment racketeering, which has pitched the Director-General of the corporation, Mr. Yusuf Nuhu, against some stakeholders, is believed to be as a result of the influence of some National Assembly members, especially its committees on Federal Character Commission (FCC) and Information on the DG.

As a result of this, subtle campaigns are currently going on among some top functionaries in the organisation on the need to prune down its staff size to enable the network cope with its technical and other operational facilities demands.

The recruitments, according to THISDAY investigation, were said to have been done by the DG, ostensibly to curry favour from the National Assembly members and even the FCC members. The investigation also showed that the relationship has made it impossible for the government agency to check the DG's excesses.

The source said; "Over 1,400 senior staff members were recruited in the last one year and almost half of them were asked to go back home towards the end of the year and asked to come back in February. It is also ridiculous that some addresses of those newly recruited, were either in care of National Assembly members or top management staff of the FCC".

But rather than blaming the Director General, an acting director, who spoke to THISDAY on the condition of anonymity, absolved Nuhu and blamed the legislators, who he said, have turned FRCN to their private companies, through which they could make their constituents have access to the national cake.

Against the laid-down rule that an FM station should accommodate 45 staff members, findings have revealed that most of the FM stations in Nigeria have more than twice that number.

In a document obtained at the Radio House Abuja by THISDAY, it was revealed that 14 candidates, who were employed on October 5, 2012, were all from members of the House Committees on Information and Federal Character. Another document, which paraded 15 candidates with fresh appointment and dated November 2, 2012, also revealed that they are from members of the two committees. In all, the total number of those employed under this circumstance amounted to 805.

As a result of this employment jamboree, stations, which are designed with only five small 10ft by 10ft offices, cannot accommodate the staff members and this has led to a situation whereby some personnel sit at the reception area or under trees outside the buildings.

Meanwhile, the Director-General has absolved himself of any complicity in the employment saga. He argued that he followed due process and that the people being referred to were artists hired by the corporation to add creative depth to the stations' programme content, whose employment were later regularised.

Nuhu said, "What happened was that we regularised the employment status of about 1,000 artists who were employed on contract basis, in line with the labour law and practice. It is a normal process that is also in line with Federal Character and in fact we did it in 2011 without anybody complaining until now when some distracters are bent on rubbishing whatever we have done in the corporation".

The DG, who admitted that most of the FM stations built in the year 2002 are small further, revealed that Nigeria can boast of 37 FM Stations, with 27 functioning well while only seven are yet to be completed.

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