Posted by Hamza Idris & Abbas Jimoh | 19 July 2017 | 2,147 times
Many directors will from today begin a three-day examination to replace 20 Federal Permanent Secretaries that retired from the service recently.
The policy flip flop was announced in a circular dated Monday and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Career Management Office (CMO), Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, in the Office of Head of Service of the Federation.
In line with the federal character principle one permanent secretary is appointed per state as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
Eligible federal directors from 19 states and Abuja will write the examination. The states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Ekiti states.
Others are Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto and the Federal Capital Territory.
Previously, such appointments were based on seniority until in 2009 when the government of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua introduced the tenure policy and written examinations.
However, in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari abolished the system and based appointments on experience and competence among other criteria.
Dr. Yemi-Esan’s memo said: “In view of the vacancies created by the exit of Several Permanent Secretaries, that have retired, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation plans to commence the process of selecting their replacement.
“Consequently, officers in the Mainstream, Federal Civil Service; who attained the substantive rank of Director on Salary Grade Level 17, by 1stJanuary 2015 (i.e. 2 years back) are eligible to participate.
“Accordingly, you are requested to forward:
i. The list of substantive Directors on SGL 17 in your Ministry/Department and Agency
ii. Their Confidential and Personal files
iii. Twenty copies of Curriculum Vitae
iv. Evidence of State of Origin.
The memo also said the selection process will involve basic training and test on ICT competency in word processing, spread sheet and power point; sitting for a written examination; and interactive session with broad-based panel of experts and practitioners.
The second memo with reference number HCSF/CMO/EMD/012/VOL.IX/89, dated 17th July, 2017, also signed by Dr. F Yemi-Esaan, which was also seen by Daily Trust, showed that accreditation of those who would pass the rigours of the re-introduced selection of permanent secretaries would commence today.
The memo showed that those cleared would write examination on “Relevant Public Service and Policy Issues” on Monday, July 24 at the National Defence College Auditorium, in Abuja.
It indicated that “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Assessment Test” will be conducted on Wednesday, July 26 at the Digital Bridge Institute in Utako, Abuja, while “Oral Interview/Interactive Session” will hold on Thursday, July 27 at the Office of the Head of the Civil Service in Abuja.
The exercise will begin with accreditation and documentation at the Public Service Institute of Nigeria, Kubwa.
Contacted for comment, the spokesman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Dr Joel Oruche, said he was not aware of the policy and that our reporter should call tomorrow on the matter.
Also, the spokesman of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHoCSF) Haruna Imrana did not pick his call. He also did not respond to SMS sent to his line.
However, two officials at the HoCSF who cannot be named as they were not authorised to speak on the matter said the new policy was at the instance of the retired Chairman of the FCSC, Deaconess Joan Ayo, and the HoCSF Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita.
It was learnt that the decision was part of the resolutions of the Council of Establishment held in Niger State.
It was also learnt that some modifications in the ongoing promotion exercise of federal workers for officers on directorate cadre was also part of the Niger meeting resolution.
“I think the policy was reversed due to the lapses noted in the last appointment of some Perm Secs. The ongoing promotion examination witnessed some dynamics to make public service viable in the interest of the country,” one of the officials said.
He also said that the retirement of Mrs Ayo did not stopped the policy reversal with the HoCSF sticking to the examination for the PSs after being adopted at the Presidency.
Already, the development has elicited tension in many ministries, with some senior government officials saying the re-introduction of examination and other formalities would only be used to push aside deserving directors from being promoted to the position of permanent secretaries.
Some of them said the whole process was being rushed by some powerful forces, all in an effort to fill the existing vacancies with some favoured, junior officers ahead of the return of President Buhari from his medical trip.
President Buhari had in November 2015, shortly after he swore-in 18 new permanent secretaries, said he found it necessary to change the tradition of subjecting would be Permanent Secretaries to written and oral tests before appointment.
According to him, his administration had opted for a “more rigorous selection process” in line with its Change Mantra.
He told the newly appointed permanent secretaries that, “the process for your selection was a departure from the previous practice of administering written and oral examinations.
“Instead, a more rigorous selection process, entailing vigorous screening of candidates’ past records, potential and capacity for holding the office, integrity, honesty and sense of commitment was adopted,” he had said.
Buhari said other criteria were used in the selection process, which paved the way for some non-civil servants to be appointed as permanent secretaries.
He said the new selection technique will bring forth some of the best, dedicated, patriotic and hardworking civil servants to hold such position of trust.
“It is my hope that your subsequent conduct and performance will not prove this administration wrong,” he said.
Buhari said at the time that he resorted to the new method, ministers and other government officials involved in policy-making often complained of “incompetence, indifference or even suspected sabotage by some of the top civil servants.”
“This administration will not condone any excesses, indifference, incompetence, and corrupt practices in any form. Permanent secretaries are therefore advised to note these words of caution and disseminate them to all civil servants accordingly,” he said.
Some government officials spoken to described the new plan as “policy summersault aimed at re-introducing corruption which will not augur well for the system.”
One of the sources said, “The so-called examination is to pave ground to short-change some people because, in the first place, people don’t become directors over night. They passed through many processes and you only progress if you are not found wanting.
“And that is why when the civil service was civil service, you only see the most senior becoming permanent secretaries and they are tested and trusted. But when the written exams was introduced, it corrupted the whole process because junior directors that have plenty of money would always find their ways even if they have no requisite knowledge of the service,” he said.
Another source said President Buhari actually shelved the idea of examination when he reviewed the recommendation of various committees set up to revamp the Federal Civil Service.
“The president discovered that instead of highly tested admin officers who rose through the ranks to reach the pinnacle of their career, it was directors of finance or directors of procurements in agencies and ministries that always manoeuvre their ways to become Permanent Secretaries,” he said. (Daily Trust)
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