It’s absurd for perm secretaries to head ministries



A development consultant, Dr. Ndi Onuekwusi, has said it is neither expedient nor in the best interest of good governance for
permanent secretaries to continue to head federal and states ministries after 100 days into the life of the current administration.

In an interview with The Guardian, Dr. Onuekwusi noted that, “Permanent secretaries are not supposed to do the work of ministers otherwise there would not be any need for the ministers. They are professional civil servants who should not be exposed continuously to the political pressure required in doing ministerial job. This is because they are supposed to be neutral and advise government strictly on technical issues.

“They are supposed to be totally apolitical and professional in doing their job in the best interest of the country. But now they are being forced to bend, accommodate and perform according to partisan political requirements. That is not in the best interest of Nigeria because in their non-partisan nature, they are to make submissions to the government while it is left to the commissioner or minister to apply the partisan consideration. But now permanent secretaries are being forced to wear partisan caps.

“How do you remove the partisanship from them when the minister or commissioner eventually gets appointed? In neuroscience, it is said that when you do something repeatedly for one month, you are promoting that part of the brain that helps you do it and subduing that part of the brain that used to do it in a different way. So, technically there is significant change in the perception, attitude and behaviour of these otherwise non-partisan public servants towards becoming partisan, even when they eventually get political bosses. “Implications on the polity

“The implication is that issues that do not need to be decided on partisan basis now have only partisan considerations. Meanwhile, most of the work of government is non-partisan. Most of the work of government is for the well being of all Nigerians irrespective of party affiliation. And it is the civil servants who are supposed to do the groundwork for decision-making, which is supposed to be done without partisanship. If they are now being subjected to work in partisan ways, it is not in the best interest of the country.

“However, having said that, I still do understand, even if I do not accept, that it requires time particularly for the President who wants to have a total departure from the past to make his ministerial appointments. But until he makes his appointments and we see the kind of people that make the list, whether they are people appointed based on pressure from outside or people appointed based on his own personal belief in their capacity to deliver his programmes, it will be premature to judge.

“In conclusion, however, Nigerians should accommodate the president and the governors involved for a few more weeks or a couple of months. If they say the delay in the appointment of ministers and commissioners is in the best interest of the country, we should just give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that the outcome will justify the delay.

How to checkmate excesses of the permanent secretaries under the current situation
“I think the president is already checkmating most of the excesses of the civil servants because without the Federal Executive Council, a lot of capital spending is not being done. It is above the limit of the permanent secretaries to do a lot of the spending. So, there is some checkmating there. But the major checkmating is that everybody is afraid of President Buhari in terms of corrupt practices, that is why leadership is critical in the affairs of any nation.

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  • yinka ola

    may be a doctor in 419. you simply have no clue and do not understand the civil service sir. Go and get some education or simply shut up

    • Osi Braimah

      He is correct – you are the one that needs education – permanent sectetaries execute policies of government marked out my ministers and the president – they don’t make polices – so in reality Jonathan Goodluck still runs Nigeria


    Dr. Ndi Onuekwusi, you are not making any senses!

  • Truth Hurts

    Is this man ok?????? are you sure he took his medications before writing this gibberish

  • Alhajivinco

    Simply not true. It is the ministers who get the perm secs involved in making unpalatable decisions of a political nature from day to day. And who said the perm secs can advise ministers in a politically charged atmosphere? They are prevented from doing so or discouraged from so doing. Which all-knowing Minister will permit his perm sec to advise him? Mr Buhari is simply laying the foundation for perm secs to regain their original independence and neutrality which they previously had (before the corrupt Mr Babangida changed the rules) to enable them play their advisory roles more effectively. Besides, the perm sec should be the accounting officer (eg, CFO) while the minister should be the CEO without the power to single handedly award contracts and sign cheques. In the UK, a perm sec can override a minister if he delivers a strong objection in writing about an issue he disagrees with on principle unless the full cabinet in turn overrules the perm sec.

  • Prince

    Perm Sec are the engines of the ministries. In fact, ministers cannot perform without the perm sec guidance. I strongly believe it is about time that perm Secs start to move up the ladder to the position of ministers instead of just bringing people who are ignorant of the department and civil service.