By Candia Stephen
Arua-The office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has come under the spotlight over alleged irregular and fraudulent staff recruitment to work in refugee settlements in West Nile.
According to documents (shortlist for oral interviews) seen by West Nile Press Online, the paper signed by Annet Musinguzi on behalf of the permanent secretary on October 5, twelve people were shortlisted for Accounts Assistant, 34 registration assistants, 35 for protection assistants, 26 assistant settlement commandants, three for community service officer and three for assistant procurement.
“All candidates are required to come along with original academic certificates, national identification cards and employment records as evidence of relevant experience,” she wrote.
But another attendance list generated by UNHCR and OPM with no date and meeting purpose shows several names of people who never featured in the short list for oral interviews, but were considered successful.
According to our investigations, at least 10 names of people mainly from Teso, and Western Uganda were slotted in and approved for deployment and are already executing duties without due process of recruitment.
When contacted over the irregular development, the Refugee Desk Officer (RDO) OPM Arua, Solomon Osakan, expressed no knowledge over the allegations, saying he was only instructed to deploy those sent to OPM Arua.
“Even me I’m not aware, I have never seen any list of the job applicants, I was only sent the people for deployment, the interviews were done in Kampala and we only conducted interviews for guards of which 11 were selected but one refused the job,” Osakan said.
The OPM has of recent been grappling with issues of corruption and irregular recruitments. Last year, youths in Yumbe district accused the implementing partners of making irregular recruitments in the camps.
“Once the people have been selected, you don’t have to ask questions, you only post them otherwise you end up being fired,” Osakan further explained, raising fears of losing his position if he dared to speak about the alleged fraud.
Sources within Office of the Prime Minister intimated to us the existence of foul play during the recruitment process, which started last year November, adding that some of the applicants who lacked or did not present university papers were allowed to attend the interviews.
“We can’t rule out that some of the people were handpicked for the jobs, these probably could be relatives of some of the big people in OPM,” said the source.
“Though generally the number of people reflects a balance of different regions, Western Uganda has taken a bigger share even when the work is in West Nile,” the source further added.
According to the sources some of the applicants were called on phone to submit their university papers after attending the oral and written interviews and yet they had just finished their studies.
However asked to comment on the allegations Pande Joshua, the human resource office OPM headquarters said because of the uniqueness of the institution of OPM it can only be the Permanent Secretary (PS) to give a response.
“According to the available laws, I serve the permanent secretary, who can only give a formal written letter to matters of the kind and I urge you to liaise with the Refugee Desk Officer to give you the general line of the PS,” Joshua said.
Pande however expressed fears that any attempt to divulge information regarding the allegations would cause him problems since he lacks authority.
In July last year, the regional parliamentary forum in West Nile chaired by the speaker Rebecca Kadaga at Desert Breeze hotel Arua rubbished the entire report presented on OPM activities in West Nile before the forum by the refugee desk officer OPM Arua Solomon Osakan.
The team accused the RDO of concocting, photo shopping and presenting a doctored report, which lacked facts and shamelessly lying to the parliamentary forum.