No go­ing back on ten­ure pol­icy re­ver­sal, FG in­sists

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Nu­rud­deen M. Ab­dal­lah, Ab­bas Ji­moh & Is­mail Mu­dashir

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.

Some am­bas­sado­rial nom­i­nees wait for their screen­ing by the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on For­eign Af­fairs at the Na­tional As­sem­bly in Abuja yes­ter­day

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