Tuesday, 3rd October 2023
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Posers over posting of perm secs, directors in Federal Civil Service

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
28 May 2023   |   4:00 am
The last four weeks have witnessed high-wire manoeuvres as the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari-led government wrapped up its time in office with a flurry of appointments, and the inauguration of fresh projects, which many find curious.

Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan

The last four weeks have witnessed high-wire manoeuvres as the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari-led government wrapped up its time in office with a flurry of appointments, and the inauguration of fresh projects, which many find curious.

A secret posting of some key permanent secretaries, including the one in the Presidential Villa is causing some anxiety within the ranks and file of civil servants in Abuja. There hasn’t been the normal service-wide circular as often noticed through publications.

Specifically, the rumoured posting of the State House Permanent Secretary, Tijani Idris Umar, is one of such “postings” that is raising dust at this crucial time. Umar is largely seen as one of the few technocrats with institutional memory of how the State House functions.

Indeed, there was anxiety amongst both retired and serving civil servants that his (Umar’s) posting at this time could deny the president-elect the opportunity of credible guidance by one of the brightest public servants that is still around. Umar is said to have less than two months to retire from the public service.

When The Guardian sought the views of the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan over the posting, she explained that the redeployment of permanent secretaries was a routine administrative process.

Her words: “What happened was not fresh appointments at all. It was redeployment of permanent secretaries. The exercise is a pure administrative process, and the people involved have been given official letters. In the civil service, the official means of communication is by letter. So, the permanent secretaries that were involved in the redeployment have gotten letters to that effect.”

Most observers smell a rat in the posting, stressing that there should have been a service-wide circular, which should have been copied to the presidential bureaucracy officials, comprising the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Chief of Staff to the President, and other heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The Guardian confirmed at the weekend that the same list of approval obtained when the president was in the United Kingdom recently contained the approval of the new Accountant General of the Federation.

Asked to comment specifically on Umar’s alleged redeployment, Dr. Esan said she was unaware of any redeployment affecting him.

“As far as I am concerned, the Permanent Secretary of the State House is not involved in the posting at all. I don’t know where that information is coming from, but I did not sign any letter to the Permanent Secretary of the State House for redeployment.”

Asked why the said redeployments were not captured in any circular, she explained: “The redeployments do not need to be captured in a circular. What is issued is a letter of posting and not necessarily issuance of circular. Issuance of circular is optional. The most important thing is that the affected permanent secretaries get their letters of redeployment, which they have all gotten. The exercise was not an announcement hence no need to issue a circular for that purpose.”

On whether President Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for the exercise, the Head of Service, added: “I can confirm to you that the administrative processes have all been followed in the redeployment. The exercise was purely an administrative matter and we are dealing with it administratively.”

Another recent posting that is also causing disquiet in the system is that of the 351 directors and other top government officials that happened on the 23rd May, 2023, six days to the exit of President Buhari.

The exercise affected officers across various ministries, agencies, and parastatals.

The deployment of the senior officers in the federal civil service is contained in the circular referenced HCSF/CMO/EM/CPA/908/II/105, dated May 23.

The posting affected those in the directorate level consisting of 95 Grade Level 17 officers, 136 on GL 16, and 120 on GL 15.

The circular, “Posting of Directorate Level Officers (SGL 15-17) by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation” was signed by Marcus Ogunbiyi, Permanent Secretary, Career Management Office.

The exercise, which took takes immediate effect, is raising concerns as questions are being asked why was the urgency especially when a new government is expected to mount saddle of leadership in a few days away.

The circular pointed that the majority of the officers will be filling vacancies while some will deputise and others will be posted to understudy in their new offices.

“I am directed to convey the approval of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation for the deployment of the following officers on SGL 15-17 in the civil service,” Ogunbiyi said.

Ogunbiyi also handed down clear warning on the need for total compliance.

“All officers concerned are reminded that failure to adhere to this posting instruction contravenes the Public Service Rules 030301(b) and will be met with appropriate sanctions,” Ogunbiyi cautioned.

He also admonished all human resources directors to submit the details of the compliance to the posting to the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation not later than June 6, 2023, while warning that rejection of the posted officers would not be condoned by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation,” Ogunbiyi cautioned.

‘The Guardian’ was told by decent sources that a permanent secretary in  an internal security related ministry has been artfully tipped to replace the outgoing state house permanent secretary. And after the exit of Buhari, the original plan is to release the identity of the new permanent secretary State House without consulting the new President, which isn’t the procedure.