By Tunde Oguntola, Abuja –
There is growing apprehension in the federal civil service over the non-confirmation of some of the permanent secretaries appointed over three months ago, by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
LEADERSHIP gathered from sources in the federal civil service that the delay in the swearing-in of the permanent secretary designates was brewing tension in the service as the new appointees had been rendered redundant, having earlier handed over to senior directors in their respective ministries, following their appointment.
Recall that on August 10, 2017, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, then acting president, approved the appointment of 21 new permanent secretaries into the Federal Civil Service.
Head of the Civil Service of Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita announced the appointments in a statement. Subsequently, and in accordance with extant civil service regulations, the newly appointed permanent secretaries, handed over their respective briefs, to officers next in line of seniority in their various ministries.
On Wednesday August 16, 2017, Acting President Osinbajo swore-in 15 of the new permanent secretaries and immediately assigned them portfolios.
Those sworn-in include: Anagbogu, Ifeoma Nkiruka (Anambra State), Women Affairs; Wilson-Jack Didi Esther (Bayelsa), Service Welfare, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, OHCSF; Gekpe Grace Isu (Cross River), Information Culture, and Aliboh, Leon Lawrence (Delta), Budget and National Planning.
Others are: Uwaifo, Osarenoma Clement (Edo), Ministry of Health; Afolayan, Ayodele Olaniyi (Ekiti) Common Services, OHSCF; Abdullahi Abdulazeez Mashi (Katsina), Ministry of Communications; Adebiyi, Bolaji Adekunle (Lagos) Labour and Employment, and Ibrahim, Musa Wen (Nasarawa) Water Resources.
Also sworn-in were: Odewale, Samson Olajide (Ogun), Special Duties, OHCSF; Adesola Olusade (Ondo), Youths and Sports; Umar, Mohammed Bello (Sokoto) Special Services, Office of the Secretary to the Government Federation; Aduda, Gabriel Tanimu, (FCT), Political Affairs Office, OSGF; Akpan, Edet Sunday(Akwa Ibom), Trade and Investment, and Ehuria, Georgina Ekeoma (Abia), Cabinet Affairs Office, OSGF.
Seven of the 21 newly appointed permanent secretaries were, however, not sworn-in as the permanent secretaries from their states had not retired and vacated their briefs. This was to avoid overlap of their schedules.
Those yet to be sworn-in whose states now have outright vacancies are: Suleiman Mustapha Lawal (Kano), Ekaro Comfort (Rivers) Adekunle, Olusegun Adeyemi (Oyo) and Apata, Dayo (Ekiti), Bitrus Bako Nabasu (Plateau).
Those whose states are not currently vacant: Osuji, Ndubuisi Marcellinus (Imo) and Mu’azu Abdulkadir (Kaduna).
Some top top civil servants who spoke on the matter opined that it is counterproductive to waste manpower at the level of those with the richest aggregate Service experience.
One of the civil servants who spoke on the condition of anonymity, for fear of victimisation, said: ‘You cannot be preparing a medium term economic framework; a new budget or pursuing economic recovery, when some of your most experienced hands are not appropriately engaged.”
Similarly, sources in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF, confirmed that the Cabinet Office, had severally listed the swearing-in of the new permanent secretaries on the agenda paper of the federal executive council, but it had been substituted for other agenda items, a situation they said was generating some unease in the Service, with many senior civil servants wondering what had become of the nation’s bureaucracy, if deserving and qualified top officers could be left in the lurch after fulfilling all conditions necessary for their inauguration.
The source however said a possible reason for the delayed inauguration of the appointees could be the anticipated de-merger of federal ministries.
But another top civil servant who spoke on the condition of anonymity, however, noted that there was absolutely no relationship between the inauguration of permanent secretaries who were appointed three months ago, and the proposed re-configuration of ministries, which proposal gained currency just about a fortnight ago.
According to him: “To borrow the proverb of the infinite broadness of the sky to accomodate all flying birds, the Civil Service even as presently configured, has more than ample accomodation for appointees at that level. We have three Ministers in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, for instance. Ideally, at least one permanent secretary should man each of these arms of the Ministry. Look at the Federal Ministries of Transportation, Interior and so on. There is so much to do in these various ministries and efficient service delivery can only be ensured if some public officials are not overloaded, while others are underutilized.”
He exonerated the president of complicity in the issue, pointing out that: “If the President could promptly respond to the Maina issue, ordering an investigation into the controversy; if he could direct the reinstatement of Governor Willie Obiano’s security personnel in Anambra State; if he could appoint a Secretary to the Government of the Federation and swear him in within 24 hours, that means President Buhari has A listening ear.”
Efforts to reach the Assistant Director of Press Affairs, Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mohammed Nakorji and the Assistant Director, Media Relations in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mohammed Manga, on the subject, were to no avail.
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