Buhari overhauls civil service, inaugurates cabinet today
IN a surprise move ahead of the historic inauguration of the Executive Council of the Federation today, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday overhauled the Federal bureaucracy, removing 17 of the 40 permanent secretaries that assisted in shaping his government without ministers for the past six months.
The retirement may also be confirmation that the number of ministries will indeed be reduced.
The Guardian had exclusively reported on October 21 that the president might retire permanent secretaries that were older than the new Head of Service.
In another development, there is palpable anxiety at the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) following the recall of 97 senior managers from various operation outlets back to the headquarters for possible redeployment.
Reacting to the redeployment plan and the anxiety it has created, the NNPC has, however, tried to reassure the workers, saying there is no plan to downsize the workforce of the PPMC.
Presidency sources confirmed that retirement of the permanent secretaries was part of efforts to overhaul and strengthen the Federal Civil Service.
Most of the permanent secretaries, including the Acting Head of the Federal Civil Service, Mrs Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, met yesterday with Buhari behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, with many of them emerging from the meeting wearing long faces.
A reading of events in Abuja yesterday showed that Buhari, who begins effective governance today when he inaugurates his cabinet would not want power vacuum in the bureaucracy. And so he did what his predecessors never attempted as he deployed all the 18 new permanent secretaries along with the general posting yesterday to the 25 ministries and 11 agencies that constitute the federal bureaucracy in the nation’s capital.
It was clear last night that those permanent secretaries appointed and posted yesterday will also be sworn in today with the ministers to begin the long awaited serious governance of the new APC-led government. President Buhari who had won election in the April 2015 election has been running his government with only his Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chief Of Staff appointed barely two months ago. He has been running the government with permanent secretaries.
It will also be recalled that 15 Advisers were approved for him since June this year by the Senate of the last session led by Senator David Mark.
Out of the 15, only Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesperson has been unveiled.
From analytics used to deconstruct the permanent secretaries cadre last night, it appeared that the presidency actually retired more than 17 as three are still being investigated by security agencies for alleged graft.
The Guardian gathered last night that the Presidency chose to be quiet about the alleged integrity issue and the identity of the accused who served in three sensitive ministries and departments.
Besides, competent sources told this newspaper last night that Buhari did not use the tenure regime of the Yar’Adua administration, which stipulates four-year tenure for directors and permanent secretaries renewable for another term only, for the retirement yesterday.
The president was said to have relied on security reports on all of them as some had spent barely two years as permanent secretaries and others only three.
It was also gathered last night that the real structure of the 25ministries may be unveiled today when the ministers are assigned portfolios.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Ohi Alegbe, told The Guardian in Abuja yesterday that the recall of the 97 managers back to the Human Resources division was to reassign the affected workers aimed at optimising service delivery of the Corporation.
He explained that the action was influenced by the people, process, skill and profit approach of Dr Ibe Kachikwu to reposition the NNPC into a profit centre business entity.
Alegre explained that the decision to post deputy managers to take over at area offices and chief officers to take over the depots from depot managers was informed by the need to effect shakeups, saying most of the managers have stayed for too long in one position which may likely to compromise the integrity of the supply chain of products.
He said: “When Dr Kachikwu was appointed the GMD of the NNPC, he made no pretence on his desire to drive a positive change in the way they were done in the past. He anchored his policy on how to achieve the best possible using the people, process, skill and profit in all its Strategic Business Units (SBUs) and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), which is the only Corporate Services Unit (CSU) of the NNPC.”
He said there are no plans to sack the recalled managers, but that they would be redeployed within the system. “There is no plan at all to sack all the managers that have been recalled.
They have been told to report to the Human Resources Division where they would be reassigned either within the PPMC or within the NNPC system,” he said.
While revealing that the ongoing reform would soon be felt at the Nigeria Gas Company (NGC), Alegbe hinted that steps are on-going to grant full autonomy to the refineries with a view to empowering their managements to put the refineries into maximum use.
But The Guardian gathered that the worry among the workers is the similarity between this process and that which led to the recent early retirement of some senior managers by the NNPC.