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Time for paradigm shift in foreign affairs

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It was the famous 16th President of the United States of America (USA), Abraham Lincoln that said, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward. ”Of a truth, Nigeria under President Buhari is moving forward steadily.
 
As Nigerians, we may assume we know what President Mohammadu Buhari, GCON will do next. From my observation, I am of the opinion that Mr. President is always shocking the nation with vital policy reforms that will stand the test of time especially if there is a continuation in these policies.

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Recall that top on Mr. President’s agenda since 2015 when he assumed power, has been to fight against corruption and institutionalise policy reforms both in the Civil service and Nigeria as a whole. Not only is his government attaining monumental heights in the development of the country by fulfilling key promises it made to deliver to Nigerians the dividends of democracy, but it is also strategically resetting a major aspect of its development agenda–appointing people with adequate qualifications, experience as well as relevant competencies and skills into strategic offices.
 
This year 2020 in particular, has witnessed a great change in the appointments made by President Buhari into Public offices. Among such appointments is that of the Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, which has been acclaimed as outstanding and has earned the President so many accolades.
 
Another very pleasantly received appointment made by the President is that of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan sworn in on March 4, 2020, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
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Since her appointment, Dr. Yemi-Esan has shown a commitment to upholding the government’s desire to ensure that the Civil Service including her own office is transformed. One is therefore not surprised that in line with the aspiration for a reformed service, she recommended for appointment as Executive Secretary, one of her trusted Directors, former Acting Permanent Secretary, Career Management Office, Mr. Ibrahim Abdu
Mairiga as the Executive Secretary, Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB) with effect from July 24, 2020, for an initial term of four years.
 
In addition to implementing a reform agenda, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation supervised the recent selection exercise for Permanent Secretaries, which included a written examination, computer-based assessment, and oral interview. The exercise has been widely described as credible, transparent, and thorough, devoid of interference or manipulation from any quarter, and for that reason, the best of Directors from the first group of 12 out of 16 States required to fill existing vacancies were appointed.

They comprised Medical Doctors, holders of PhD degrees in various disciplines, Computer experts, and an Accountant among others.

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The Permanent Secretaries and their states are Chukwuemeka Meribole (Abia), Peter Tarfa  (Adamawa), Ifeoma Anyanwutaku (Anambra), Anthonia Ekpa (Cross River), Kumo Ardo (Gombe), Babangida Hussaini (Jigawa), Nura Alkali (Kano), Oluwatoyin Akinlade (Kogi), Lamido Belgore (Kwara), Omokunmi Udoh (Oyo), Ganda Mohammed (Sokoto) and Mamman Mahmuda (Yobe).

The appointment of the second group of four Permanent Secretaries left, out of 16 that was required, was announced recently. 
 
Checks reveal that the civil service has been virtually handcuffed due to erroneous appointments of Permanent Secretaries. The 2015 and 2017 appointments were deemed the most controversial because they allegedly produced ‘anointed’ Permanent Secretaries who were not the best in the stock. In 2015, the proverbial ‘Nigerian factor’ made it possible for mediocrity to hold sway as those ones were spared the rigours of the selection examinations. In 2017, those that emerged were said to have passed somehow! 

Ushie is a foreign affairs commentator

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