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Politics

Who is afraid of merit-based process in selection of federal perm secs?

It has become clearly obvious that some unpatriotic and corrupt so called ‘powerful people’ are sponsoring and inserting fabricated lies and innuendos in a section of disrepute media platforms with the aim of inciting the politicization of the appointment of Federal Permanent Secretaries and denouncing the culture of meritocracy in the Public Service.

These enemies of fair-play, accountability and due process in their desperation have even launched sponsored and coordinated media attacks in an attempt to tarnish the hard-earned image and integrity of Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

This is coming, following the examination recently conducted by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF).

The exam which was open to eligible Directors from states having vacancies followed the conclusion of a screening exercise. According to a circular from the Office, out of the 85 Directors that were cleared to sit for the written exam, 61 candidates failed to meet the minimum mark of 50 percent. 20 candidates scaled through while four candidates were absent.

There are whispers that some of the directors that could not score up to 50 percent are paying for the blackmailing media insertions while their godfathers, including religious and traditional rulers are pressing buttons from the backdoor.

And their intentions are clear- to blackmail the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to cancel the exam and revert to the old order where nepotism is the qualifying certificate rather than merit.

But knowing Dr. Yemi-Esan and her pedigree as an incorruptible champion of merit, due process, law and order, the blackmailers’ campaigns are dead on arrival. She has said on the case that “I will never succumb to blackmail or pressure to compromise the integrity of Perm Sec Exams,” therefore there is no window here.

If the Plan-B of those behind the negative media insertions is to draw the esteemed attention of the President to their shameless mission in order to get a presidential directive to revert to dubious status quo ante, that angle too, can be seen in a trash can already. This is because this President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, has continued to hammer on merit, which he has practically demonstrated in his appointment of right persons as ministers, advisers, heads of MDA and Board members.

To peep into the lies and dubious underbelly mission of the blackmailers and their disrepute media partners, a certain publication quoted the usual non-existent and unverifiable ‘sources’ to say that by conducting exam for the directors, the OHCSF usurped the President’s exclusive power to make such appointments. But this publication has exposed two things, the ignorance and deliberate falsehood of the writers and their sponsors.

In the first place, the writers lack knowledge on the process as well as how permanent secretaries are appointed.

One, before the exam was conducted, the OHCSF, had through a circular- OHCSF/PS/CMO/178/11/06, dated August 21, 2023, written to all the relevant authorities including the Chief of Staff to the President, Ministers, SGF, EFCC, ICPC and others of the exam.

The circular also listed all the vacancies and states that had the openings.

Two, the President appoints permanent secretaries based on recommendations by relevant authorities. Criminals should note that Nigeria cannot remain a lawless country forever.

For those who do not know her, Dr. Yemi-Esan had put in years of spotless service to Nigeria serving as Director and Permanent Secretary at different ministries including Information and Culture; Education; Petroleum and OHCSF before becoming the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

She is the force behind the various reforms that have combined to clean up the nation’s civil service and for which she has received standing ovations and numerous awards from local, national and international bodies. This attempt to pour tar on her reputation and integrity will not work.

In my candid opinion, just like in the days of the land of Sodom and Gomorrah when Abraham in a dialogue with God made case for the salvation of the city if just but 10 qualified persons meet up to God’s standard of righteousness for the city to be saved, so let it be concerning the selection of Permanent Secretaries.

A close analysis of the results released by the exam committee shows a significant level of consistency in the candidates that scaled through from the written test to the oral interview. Out of the 85 candidates that were screened to sit for the exams, 20 made it to the ICT proficiency test and thereafter, 18 from that number made it to the oral. My take on the 20 candidates or final 18 is that they somewhat standout from other candidates having been able to consistently cross to the final stage.

Therefore, if the service will not be paying lip service in entrenching meritocracy in the system, priority should be accorded to the quality of the candidates and not the quantity to merely fill vacancies. There are certainly other brighter candidates from the states in the service and they will eventually emerge.

This calls for both the will and drive of all stakeholders with the aim of ending mediocrity and poor performance in our public service.  

Melah, an Abuja based journalist is the Publisher of Nationwide Reports 

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