President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday swore in permanent secretaries with a warning that they should not sabotage his ministers.
The president, at the swearing-in of 16 out 18 of the newly appointed permanent secretaries, said in Abuja that he would not tolerate any act that could slow down the performance of his government.
He said they were expected to serve as chief advisers to the ministers, who were sworn in on Wednesday and must be seen to be carrying out their duties diligently and in tune with the change mantra.
“I must, however, sound a note of warning. It is within public domain that ministers as chief executives of their ministries, as well as other government officials involved in policy formulation and implementation often complain of the intolerable level of incompetence, indifference or even suspected sabotage by some of the top echelon of the civil service.
“Even where permanent secretaries, in some instances, are exempted from these accusations, they are still responsible and liable for failing to provide the required leadership, control and direction.
“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.
“This government was voted into power by popular mandate to implement clearly articulated programmes and policies to re-generate and re-invigorate the national economy,” the president added.
Buhari, who had last week warned cabinet members to ensure good working relations with the permanent secretaries, said it had become public knowledge that in the past, the top civil servants were responsible for failing to provide the expertise for the success of government policies and programmes.
Buhari listed the focus of his government to include youth employment, fighting corruption, tackling insecurity and diversifying the economy through agricultural development, solid minerals exploitation and provision of infrastructure.
The president, however, assured the permanent secretaries that he has always considered the civil service as an indispensable reservoir of experience, expertise and loyalty and a dependable ally in the quest to change the country for the better. He expressed concern that given the poor state of the nation’s economy, the permanent secretaries cannot afford to fail the country.
He said: “If Nigeria has to realise 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.
“This administration and the civil service can thus develop a constructive partnership in charting a course for the change that Nigerians are looking forward to.
“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 expressed the hope that the selection technique would have thrown up some of the best, dedicated, patriotic and hardworking civil servants to hold this position of trust.
“It is my hope that your subsequent conduct and performance will not prove this administration wrong,” he stated. Those sworn in yesterday were Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, Mr. Taiwo Abidogun, Dr. Bukar Hassan, Mrs. Wakama Belema Asifieka, Mr. Jalal Ahmad Arabi, Mr. Sabiu Zakari, Mrs. Obiageli Phyllis Nwokedi, Mr. Aminu Nabegu and Mr. Alo Williams Nwankwo.
Others were Dr. Shehu Ahmed, Mr.. Ogbonnaya Innocent Kalu, Mrs. Nuratu Jimoh Batagarawa, Mr. Christian Chinyeaka Ohaa, Mr. Bassey Apkanyung, Mr. Louis Edozien and Dr. Ugo Roy. Alhaji Mahmoud Isa- Dutse and Mr. Bamgbose Olukunle Oladele were absent at the event as they were said to be out of the country and would be sworn in later.