President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said he changed the tradition of subjecting permanent secretaries to written and oral tests before appointment, saying the administration rather opted for a “more rigorous selection process”.
Speaking shortly after administering the oath of office on the new permanent secretaries, the president tasked them to see their appointment as an emergency call to duty as they came at a time when the nation’s economy was ailing.
“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,” he said .
The president said other criteria were used in the selection process, which even saw some non-civil servants being appointed as permanent secretaries.
Mr. Buhari expressed hope the new selection technique would 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 stated.
The president warned the permanent secretaries that he would not condone excesses, indifference, incompetence, and corrupt practices from the new permanent secretaries.
Mr. Buhari said it was public knowledge that ministers and other government officials involved in policy-making often complain 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.
He said permanent secretaries were the chief advisers to their respective ministers and were responsible for safeguarding public funds and ensuring the propriety of expenditures under their control.
Mr. Buhari said permanent secretaries were also responsible for coordinating their respective bureaucracies as well as ensuring effective implementation of all approved government programmes and policies.
“If Nigeria has to realize 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, the president stated.
Following a mass retirement, Monday, the President had appointed 18 new permanent secretaries.
Six of the new appointees took the oath of office, while two others, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse and Bamgbose Olukunle Oladele, were deferred as they were out of the country.
Those who took the oath of office are Ayotunde Adesugba, Taiwo Abidogun, Bukar Hassan, Wakama Belema Asifieka, Jalal Ahmad Arabi, Sabiu Zakari, Obiageli Phyllis Nwokedi and Aminu Nabegu.
Others are Alo Williams Nwankwo, Shehu Ahmed, Ogbonnaya Innocent Kalu, Nuratu Jimoh Batagarawa, Christian Chinyeaka Ohaa, Bassey Akpanyung, Louis Edozien and Ugo Roy.