As Buhari tidies house, hones next level cabinet

Group pledges support for survival of Nigeria

SIR: Currently, several policy decisions, house-cleaning exercises,resolute needful executive actions and even pesky political distractions clutter President Muhammadu Buharis table. But thats just a part of the story.Perhaps only pretty discerning few know more than the president, that today, the stakes are extremely high and Nigerians are mindful that a failure to achieve democratic stability, through a disciplined, transparent, inclusive governance process, may imperil the countrys future as a coherent state.

It is against this background that thesuspension of the Head of Service, Mrs WinifredOyo-Ita and the appointment of Dr (Mrs) Folashade Yemi-Esan as the Acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is better appreciated.Mrs Oyo-Ita was directed to proceed on an indefinite leave to allow conclusion of the investigation being carried out by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission into some issues in which her name prominently featured.

Besides sending seismic shock waves throughout the federal civil service and beyond, the move also warns foes and alerts friends of the administration to the fact that this president means business.

Conscious of maintaining system stability, the president also approved the extension of the tenure of seven retiring permanent secretaries for a period of one calendar year with effect from October 1. This is to engender stability in the federal civil service and ensure effective delivery on the nine priority areas of the administration as well as the mandates given to the new ministers.

Similarly, President Buhari directed the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to commence the process for the selection of new permanent secretaries to replace retiring ones.

The governments decision to extend the tenure of these permanent secretaries is premised on the need to ensure that the new ministers are properly guided, briefed about their sectors and to ensure that a solid foundation is laid for the delivery on the presidential mandate, an undertaking which they jointly signed. The insight that informed the presidential directives can hardly be faulted. Significantly, the permanent secretaries captured in this presidential tenure extension reflected commendable inclusivity an area that detractors readily exploit to criticise the president. The presidential gesture significantly reflects, and very largely, ethnic or geo-political zonal spread or balance.

The affected permanent secretaries include: Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, Ministry of Interior; Mrs Ifeoma Anagbogu (Women Affairs); Mrs Grace Gekpe (Information & Culture); Dr Umar Bello,(Agriculture & Rural Development); Suleiman Lawal, (Foreign Affairs); Mrs Comfort Ekaro, (Water Resources) and Olusegun Adekunle, General Services Office (Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation).

The bold presidential action simply underlines the fact that Ministries, Departments and Agencies require leaders who can manage critical responsibilities; men and women, not only of integrity, but also personalities who will not shy away from directly processing the facts and taking hard decisions to guarantee success.

It is instructive that at close of the 2019 presidential retreatrecently, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha succinctly captured the philosophical essence of the Next Level Cabinet and gave an insight into the exacting template within which new ministers must operate.

Indeed, Mustapaha was categorical on the outcomes of the retreat, namely: to consolidate and accelerate on the agricultural agenda to achieve full food sufficiency; increase revenue; and, implement measures to reduce leakages and drive cost-optimization. Others include: to ensure effective coordination between monetary and fiscal policy; invest in human capital development with strong focus on early education and health insurance; facilitate investment in oil and gas sector by ensuring speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and Deep Offshore Oil and Exploration & Production Bill; resolve the liquidity challenge in power sector and facilitate private sector investment.

The initiatives are expected to be cascaded to the relevant ministries, where ministers will champion the responsibility for driving implementation and execution. It is therefore reasonable to seek stability in the federal civil service considering the fact that the new ministers will largely rely on the expertise and guidance of their permanent secretaries.

Today, as global economic shock waves impact local economy and policies, new nationalism reshapes big power politics, the Arab-Iran gulf stand-off simmers and bruising US-China trade war unfolds, President Buhari can do no less than navigate a tight course. His presidency will certainly be defined, going forward, as he deploys his stern footing and maintains his intolerance of indiscipline and corruption – the twin evils that have brought down many nations in history.


Author: Our Reporter




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