The New Era for Sustainable Leadership and Accountability Initiative (NESLAI) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the examination template for the replacement of the vacant federal permanent secretaries’ positions.
Comrade Edwin Olorunfemi, the Executive Director, NESLAI, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), said on Monday at a news briefing that, such examinations in the past have led to the appointments of ‘round pegs in square holes’.
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According to him, it is important that at this point of the national life, everyone must ensure the leaders and the led, make the right decisions as opportunity geared towards national growth and development presents itself.
Olorunfemi said, “There are however some strong indications that the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHCSF) is set to go through the usual route of bias selection examination ‘putting a round peg in a square hole’ a situation which has yielded no positive result overtime.
“The selection or appointment should be based on merit and not favouritism or rigmaroles; hence the need to also consider past records, potentials, capacity and competency of candidates cannot be overemphasised. We are of the opinion that there is no better time than now for us to develop a workable template for the appointment of permanent secretaries.
“Moreover, judging that in a time like this whereby government is considering cutting down cost of governance, lots of money is required for the conduct of examinations, wisdom dictates that we jettison the idea of conducting examinations but rather, set up a committee and invite prospective candidates for a one-on-one interactive session where their antecedence will be properly scrutinised and merit given to those who deserves it.”
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 appointed, even, some non-career civil servants based on merit, and which was applauded by many Nigerians.
He said, “For Example, the likes of former Permanent Secretary Jemila Shua’ra Ministry of Petroleum Resource; Ogbonnaya Innocent of the Career Management Office in Office of the Head of Service; and Edozien Louis of the Ministry of power.
“Also is Mahmoud Isa-Dutse of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning a renowned banker whose performance earned him another appointment as the Executive Director on the Board of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Jedda, Saudi Arebia by Your Excellency; while Alo Williams Nwank, Christian Ohaa and others were career civil servant appointed without any examination which proved that nothing should be considered other than merit and competence in the process of appointment.”
He, however, said that Nigerians must not be oblivious of the fact that, as much as competence is important and required, appointing non-career civil servants as permanent secretaries should be discouraged as it dampens the morale of the civil servants that has grown through the ranks and put in most active parts of their lives in service diligently invariably depriving them of getting to the peak of their career which also could invariably lead to inefficiency and dereliction of duty in the civil service.
Olorunfemi, therefore, urged President Buhari to order the suspension of the examination policy and appoint the new permanent secretaries on merit and competency.