No going back on tenure policy reversal, FG insists
The suspension of the tenure policy for top federal officials won’t be reversed the government said yesterday.
Late Yar’adua’s President Umaru government introduced the policy in August, 2009 reportedly to eliminate stagnation in the service.
The policy prescribed a term limit of four years for permanent secretaries and another four years (renewable once) for officers on directorate cadre.
However, the federal government suspended the policy on June 20, 2016 saying it had served its purpose.
The suspension was criticised by the proponents of the policy and some public servants who said they have been put at a disadvantage because many directorate staff who are due for retirement will now stay on.
But the government in a letter responding to Daily Trust’s request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) said the suspension stays because it was done to strengthen the bureaucracy.
The response was made in a letter dated July 26, 2016 and signed by Haruna Imrana Yazid, a director of communications in the Office of Head of Service of the Federation (OHSF).
The letter said: “The government is reviewing the policy, along with other policies, in an effort to institute relevant and
and far reaching changes to strengthen the civil service.
“We wish to reiterate that just like any policy of government, policies are supposed to be reviewed from time to time to find out if they have met the desired objectives.
“The aim of this administration in the review of the policy and others for the service is to create a strong, dedicated and effective professional civil service that will propel the development of the nation and also stand global challenges.”
However, two top retired bureaucrats in an interview with Daily Trust hold divergent views about the reversal of the policy.
Tenure removal will deepen corruption Adegoroye
Dr Goke Adegoroye, retired pioneer Director General/Permanent Secretary of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) told Daily Trust in Abuja yesterday that the tenure policy reversal will pave way for “ridiculous situations where assistant and deputy directors will end up retiring before their directors.”
He said: “We should find it curious that President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the tenure policy which means a reversal of the gains made so far.”
Dr. Adegoroye, who is the spokesperson of the Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries (CORFEPS), said “the first obvious implication of the suspension is that it would reverse the gains made since the policy was introduced, as highlighted above.
“The second effect is that the suspension would exacerbate the heinous act of records falsification currently permeating the service.
“This is because, unlike regular officers who, by their record of entering the service at 25 years of age and spending 27 years to attain the grade of director, would have their eight -year tenure on GL 17 co-terminate with their 60 years of age.
“Most of the officers with potentials to spend more than eight years without attaining 60 years of age are those who transferred to the civil service mid-stream in their careers.
“Since their previous records of service were not known, they are able to manipulate those records to enable them stay well below the retirement age ceiling. “Such manipulation of record would compound not just the crisis of succession in the service but also the wage bill of government, as it loads the service at the top at the expense of renewal at the lower levels,” he said.
He said the reversal “would compound the already festering problems arising from the selective recruitment into GL 16 and 17 positions, carried out by the FCSC in 2013 and 2014.
“These exercises have now created a new generation of civil servants on the grade of director in their late 30s and early 40s who are poised to spend another 20 years on those grade levels. Most of the officers were from states in the southern part of the country, especially the South-South geopolitical zone.
“Their entry into the civil service has been to the detriment of the hardworking, committed and loyal civil servants with not less than 25 years cognate experience within the federal service system.
“The fact that these officers were brought into the service, using the consequential vacancies which those waiting in line had expected would be available for their own promotion, was one of the main issues that led the GL 16 officers to take the FCSC to court in 2015.
“The removal of tenure would indeed perpetuate this group of officers and the service would be back to status quo ante.”
He said the way forward is for the president to set up a panel to examine the tenure policy in all its ramifications; address the current shortcomings; and make appropriate recommendations to safeguard the effective implementation of the policy within the overarching national strategy of public service renewal and revitalisation.
Tenure policy breeds corruption
However, a former permanent secretary, who preferred anonymity because the sensitivity of the issue, told Daily Trust the tenure system contributed to the degeneration of the country’s public service.
“The removal of tenure system is good because it is at the heart of the degeneration of the public service. In fact, if I’m to be the president, I will ask the Federal Civil Service Commission and the Head of Service of the Federation to audit all promotions and appointments that were made from 2011 to date, particularly at the senior levels.
“Emphasis should be from level 13 to 17. This is the way you will weed out a lot of wrong appointments made outside the guidelines. If the government is serious about the civil service, repealing tenure system is not enough, they have to overhaul the entire system completely.
“Honestly, Buhari will not go anywhere in his attempt to reform public institutions, unless he overhauls and reforms public service,” he said.
He said the tenure system was discredited even during the previous administration, saying “former president Goodluck Jonathan admitted that the tenure system was causing massive attrition of the best hands in the public service. It was destroying the public service because competent and capable hands were removed.”
The former bureaucrat, who served in various ministries, said the tenure system was the worst policy initiative ever introduced in the public service.
“It offended the principle of competence and merit. It removed the best hands systematically and allowed people who were worst to occupy offices. It introduced mediocrity and as soon as people took offices either as permanent secretaries or directors, they began to be corrupt themselves because they knew they had maximum of four years,” he said.
He added that the tenure system breached the fundamental contract between the civil servant and the country which stipulated that a civil servant should retire after putting 35 years in the service or attaining 60 years of age.
Civil servants kick
Top civil servants at the Federal Secretariat Abuja who declined being named for fear of victimisation told Daily Trust that the president was either deceived or blackmailed into agreeing to the tenure policy reversal.
An assistant director said they fear the consequence of this policy would be worse than the scenario that led to the introduction of the policy.
“We all know that even with the tenure policy in place, the corrupt tendencies of those at the top echelon of the bureaucracy did not make the benefits of the policy much felt.
“How do competent and experienced hands rise to higher levels especially director when those that were there refused to let go until they reach 60 years of age or 35 years in service,” one of the workers said.
Another civil servant said the politicization in the federal civil service that led to the rapid promotion of some officers and the appointment of those on secondment from states before it was stopped would take its toll on the service.
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