- Says he won’t condone corruption, incompetence…
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned new permanent secretaries to, in the course of their duties, avoid actions or inactions that may frustrate the efforts of the new ministers and the federal government in general.
The president, who spoke while swearing-in the new permanent secretaries yesterday at the State House Council Chambers, said he was aware that some permanent secretaries and other top civil servants had sabotaged ministers in this country in the past, warning them that his administration would not condone such conduct.
The president also urged the permanent secretaries to be patriotic and dedicated to work, saying he won’t condone corruption, indolence and incompetence.
“I must, however, sound a note of warning. It is within public domain that ministers as chief executives of their ministries as well as other government officials involved in policy formulation and implementation often complain of the intolerable levels of incompetence, indifference or even suspected sabotage by some of the top echelon of the civil service. Even where permanent secretaries in some instances are exempted from these accusations, they are still responsible and liable for failing to provide the required leadership, control and direction.
“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,” the President said.
He reminded the permanent secretaries that his administration was voted into power to fight corruption, crate jobs and eradicate poverty, urging them to play their part of driving the change process.
“Permanent secretaries are the chief advisers to their respective ministers and are responsible for safeguarding public funds and ensuring the propriety of expenditures under their control. They are also responsible for coordinating their respective bureaucracies as well as ensuring effective implementation of all approved government programmes and policies.
“This government was voted into power by popular mandate to implement clearly articulated programmes and policies to re-generate and re-invigorate the national economy. The main focus is to create employment for the youth, fight corruption, tackle insecurity, and diversify our economic base with emphasis on agricultural development solid minerals exploitation as well as provision of infrastructural services.
“This time when the nation’s economy and revenue base are very low will task the capability and capacity of any government. This is why you have been chosen and you should all regard your appointments as an emergency call to duty,” he added.
President Buhari also noted that as part of the change process, his administration deviated from the old criteria of choosing permanent secretaries.
“In keeping with the change mantra of this administration, the process for your selection as permanent secretaries 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.
“I believe this new selection technique will have, hopefully, brought up to light some of the best, dedicated, patriotic and hardworking Civil Servants to hold this position of trust. It is my hope that your subsequent conduct and performance will not prove this administration wrong.
“I am sure the permanent secretaries and all other civil servants appreciate the fact that I have always considered the civil service as an indispensable reservoir of experience, expertise and loyalty. I, therefore, consider the service as a dependable ally in my quest to change this country for the better.
“If Nigeria has to realise its full potentials for greatness, its civil service must first understand and accept the “change mantra” of this administration, and then lead its spread through all the institutions of governance and the economy. This administration shall give all the necessary support, protection and encouragement to the civil service to do its work. I have great faith in the ability and quality of the Nigerian civil service to provide stability and the desired change.
“This administration and the civil service can thus develop a constructive partnership in charting a course for the change that Nigerians are looking forward to,” he said.
The new permanent secretaries sworn-in were Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, Mr. Taiwo Abidogun, Dr. Bukar Hassan, Mrs. Wakama Belema Asifieka, Mr. Jalal Ahmad Arabi, Mr. Sabiu Zakari, Mrs. Obiageli Phyllis Nwokedi and Mr. Aminu Nabegu.
Others are Mrs. Nuratu Jimoh Batagarawa, Mr. Christian Chinyeaka Ohaa, Mr. Bassey Apkanyung, Mr. Louis Edozien, Dr. Ugo Roy, Mr. Alo Williams Nwankwo, Dr. Shehu Ahmed and Mr. Ogbonnaya Innocent Kalu.
Two other permanent secretaries, Mr. Bamgbose Olukunle Oladele and Alhaji Mahmoud Isa-Dutse were said to be out of the country and would take their oath of office another day.