By Victor Young
Civil servants in the country are not happy with the Federal Government over some of its policies considered to have negatively affected their morale.
Chief among the policies are an extension of tenure of some permanent secretaries and suspension of tenure policy.
Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, summed up the anger of civil servants at its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Addressing members of NEC and other guests, ASCSN’s President, Bobboi Kaigama, also informed that public workers were also looking forward to the general salary review in 2020, promised by the government, saying “Civil Servants generally are waiting patiently for this promise to materialise. ”
Tenure of perm secs
Lamenting some of the displeasures of members, Kaigama said “you will recall that this Union in 2016 condemned the extension of tenure of the then Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Jamila Shu’ara and called for the reversal of the offensive extension. It took a concerted effort by the Union to force Mrs Shu’ara to exit the System.
Recently, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation through a Circular announced the extension of tenure of seven Permanent Secretaries who are already due for retirement. The decision to extend the tenure of these Permanent Secretaries is hinged on the need to ensure that the new Ministers are properly guided, briefed about their sectors and to ensure that a solid foundation is laid for the delivery of the Presidential Mandate which they were given. These reasons are not tenable.
“There is no doubt that the President is empowered by Section 171(1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to make an appointment to the position of Permanent Secretary. It should, however, be noted, that the issued Circular was not about appointment but extension of tenure. Suffice it to say that the extension of tenure which has no Constitutional backing has affected the career progression and succession plans which have been instituted to give equal opportunities to all Officers in the Federal Public Service to advance to the peak of their careers. There is absolutely nothing like equity, justice and fair play in the extension that had been granted the affected Permanent Secretaries. With the ill-advised extension, the service has been stabbed in the back and it is bleeding profusely. We have therefore leveraged with Federal Government on this vexed issue and we do hope that necessary corrective measures will be put in place to right the wrongs as recommended by the committee put in place to address this fault line.
According to the ASCSN, “as a strategic organ of Government that formulates and implements policies for efficient and effective service delivery to the citizenry, the Civil Service should ordinarily be administered by educated and highly skilled personnel. It is precisely for these reasons that the British imperial lords who established the Service ingrained inbuilt mechanism in the system that promotes merit, competence, and high work ethics to ensure the sustenance of standards in manpower development and quality output. Rules were made to guide the efficient and effective running of the Service and these rules are strictly adhered to and applied to the letter in all circumstances. Promotion and advancement are done following to extant rules and not on any sentimental considerations.
“As time went on, however a lot of distortions crept into the system such that experienced and knowledgeable Officers who could not be promoted as and when due started to resign out of frustration or began to doctor their ages with the hope of staying longer in the Service hoping that through this process, they will reach the peak of their career. It was in an attempt to stem stagnation problem in the Service that the idea of tenure policy for Permanent Secretaries and Directors began to be mooted by the Bureau for Public Service Reforms in 2004.
Ultimately, during the Administration of late President Umoru Yar’adua, the four years single tenure for Permanent Secretaries and the four years of two terms (eight years) tenure for Directors were introduced in 2009.
“It is instructive to note that the introduction of the tenure policy for Permanent Secretaries and Directors in the Federal Civil Service opened new vistas of opportunities for senior civil servants to be advancing regularly to the top hierarchy of the Service and significantly reduced the incidence of stagnation as it were. This is the more reason why many stakeholders were taken aback when the present Administration opted to suspend the tenure policy. We see the suspension as a retrogressive idea that will take the Service many steps back.
Since the suspension of the tenure policy, the Association has made several representations to the Government to reverse the decision in the interest of the Civil Service without any positive result. It is on this note that I wish to call on the Federal Government to restore the tenure policy so that normalcy can return to the Civil Service.”