Though the tenure policy of directors and its equivalent in the federal civil service is seen as a welcome development, the exclusion of the Head of the Civil Service of the federation from the list of those that should exit the service is raising dust within the federal bureaucracy.

Findings by TheEconomy revealed that though directors who have spent eight years have, in line with tenure policy, been ordered to retire, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) who after being a Director for multiple years was appointed Permanent Secretary in 2012, HCSF in acting capacity in 2019 and substantive capacity in 2020 when she was expected to vacate office on account of eight years as Permanent Secretary, may have been curiously shielded from the policy hammer.

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Esan has spent a total of 11 years post-director grade and counting and the tenure policy doesn’t seem to be affecting her and other permanent secretaries who should be affected by recent circulars.

Indeed, the latest revision of the Public Service Rules was approved by the FEC in 2021 but the HCSF is just issuing a service-wide circular for its implementation in 2023.

There is some apprehension within the service that the delayed action might have been influenced by self-preservation in office. Number 020909 of the civil service rules state: “A Director or its equivalent by whatever nomenclature it is described in MDAs shall compulsorily retire upon serving eight years on the post, and a Permanent Secretary shall hold office for a term of four years and renewable for a further term of four years, subject to satisfactory performance and no more.”

Stakeholders observed at the weekend that what is perhaps playing out in the federal civil service is obviously a lack of understanding of the service rules and how they should be implemented or simply a well-calculated ploy to deceive the new President.

An initial pointer to an underlay of bureaucratic sabotage for the Tinubu administration was the posting of Permanent Secretaries carried out by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation on May 30, 2023 barely 24 hours after Swearing In of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President.

Credible sources among serving Permanent Secretaries have confirmed that in that posting cycle, the HCSF had originally recommended the deployment of Tijjani Umar from State House to Humanitarian Affairs with Mr Abel Enitan the Permanent Secretary, Police Affairs as his replacement and that it was former President Buhari that overruled it from his resting place in the United Kingdom then.

The source noted that it was too dangerous to do that for the incoming President, more so as Tijani Umar, who retired last Saturday, August 10, 2023 was just a little over two months away then.

This time, as a result of the limited understanding of the service rule, the ‘eagle’ eye to spot the irregularity in the application of the PSR by applying age instead of years of tenure to exit Tijjani Umar and bring Engr Adebiyi Olusesan Olufunsho as his replacement in the State House was absent in the office of the Chief of Staff to the President (CoS-P) through which the HCSF passed her memo to the President.

“With the restoration of the Tenure Policy announced by the HCSF in her circular of July 27, 2023, the expectation was that the exit of Permanent Secretaries from service is now once again in line with the tenure provisions in PSR 020909. Arising from this, therefore, it was expected that the exit from service last Thursday of Tijjani Umar, the Permanent Secretary, State House was on account of having completed four years and that his tenure was not renewed,” the source stated.

Tijjani left the service on account of having reached 60 years of age, curiously. Indeed, Tijjani, who was appointed Perm Sec in December 2019 under the tenure rule ought to have ended his first four years of tenure in December 2023.

Irrespective of age, Tijjani was entitled to another four years’ tenure which was not granted. The latest controversies follow the unveiling of the revised Public Service Rules (PSR) by the Head of the Civil Service Folashade Yemi-Esan, which resulted in more than 500 Directors across the Ministries, Departments and Agencies facing exit doors.

Recall that at the public service lecture held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja in commemoration of the civil service week, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Yemi-Esan said the Implementation of the revised Public Service rules had commenced.

According to a circular dated July 27, 2023, Yemi-Esan called on Permanent Secretaries, the Accountant-General of the Federation, the Auditor-General for the Federation, and Heads of the Extra-Ministerial Department to ensure compliance with the document.

The revised PSR stipulates that a Director (GL 17) or its equivalent as may be prescribed by other MDAs shall compulsorily retire upon the attainment of eight years in that position.

A Director or its equivalent by whatever nomenclature it is described in MDAs shall compulsorily retire upon serving eight years on the post. Similarly, a Permanent Secretary shall hold office for a maximum duration of eight years in two terms of four years each, renewable only subject to satisfactory performance.

Consequently, the policy may affect about 500 Directors who have spent eight years on Grade Level 17. This is also likely to lead to the creation of vacancies within the system and encourage career progression.

The revised PSR also prescribes virtual meetings and engagements to encourage the use of technology to facilitate efficient and timely interactions among government officials, stakeholders, and the public.

This move is expected to streamline decision-making processes and improve coordination within the public service.The PSR also replaces the Annual Performance Evaluation Report (APER) with a new Performance Management System (PMS), which focuses on the measurable output of employees to specified competencies.

By shifting the emphasis from mere evaluations to performance-based assessments, the new approach is designed to foster a results-oriented culture within the civil service.

Additionally, the revised PSR introduces a framework for recognizing and rewarding outstanding work and meritorious service, aimed at motivating employees by acknowledging their exemplary performance and contributions to the public service.

In a swift move, the government also directed retiring directors to hand over all vital documents, identity cards, and official cars before exiting the service.

This was contained in a circular issued on August 3, 2023 signed by the Director, Administration, Ministry of Finance, Mariya Rufa’i. It was expressly stated in the circular that the directive was based on the “2021 revised edition of the Public Service Rule(PSR) which became effective on July 27, 2023.”

The retiring directors were advised to hand over to the most senior officer in their respective offices and commence on documentation process immediately.

The revised PSR stipulates that a Director (GL 17) or its equivalent as may be prescribed by other MDAs shall compulsorily retire upon the attainment of eight years in that position.

All efforts to clarify all these developments with the Head of the Civil Seevice of the Federation since last week yield no response from her despite using the same telephone contact used three months ago for her response to a related issue on posting without service- wide.

When our correspondent sought the response of the Head of Service, she said she did not understand the question that was put across to her, saying, “yes I saw the chat that was sent to my phone number via Whatapp but I did not understand the question. You may rephrase and send again. I am in the middle of an engagement now.”

She did not respond to the question on why the tenure limit was not extended to Permanent Secretaries since they too cannot spend more than two tenures of four years each.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: