Nigeria: 24 Days After, 500 Directors Defy Govt’s Order to Retire

Directors in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Civil Service, who were to proceed on compulsory retirement since July 27 having spent eight years at their positions, have stayed put, in contravention to a new rule.

Checks by LEADERSHIP reveal that the no fewer than 500 directors affected by the new rule are yet to comply.

The new stipulation that such affected directors should give way followed the revised Public Service Rule (PSR) and circular issued by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, last month to heads of MDAs, directing them to ensure compliance with the new rule and the revised PSR.

The revised PSR was unveiled last month at a public service lecture held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. According to the Head of Service, its implementation kicked off immediately with the launch.

“Following the approval of the revised Public Service Rules by the Federal Executive Council on the 27th of September, 2021 and its subsequent unveiling during the public service lecture during the commemoration of the 2023 Civil Service Week, the PSR has become operational with effect from 27 July, 2023. You are, therefore, to ensure full compliance with all provisions of the Public Service Rules, 2021. Please, ensure strict compliance with the contents of this circular,” the Head of Service stated.

The circular noted that the new rule, which seeks to give room for deputy directors within the Federal Civil Service some of whom have been stagnated on Grade Level 16 for about a decade, to rise to the cadre of director, would see over 500 directors across the civil service on Grade Level 17 who have spent more than eight years in their positions proceed on compulsory retirement.

For instance, following the circular from the Head of Service, the director of Administration, Federal Ministry of Finance, Maria Rufai had in an internal memo, dated August 3, directed affected directors in the ministry to hand over all government official property to the next most senior officer in their respective departments and proceed on immediate retirement.

Consequently, all affected directors were advised to begin the process of documentation with the Administration Department for compulsory retirement by virtue of the section under reference and to formally hand over to the most senior officers in their respective departments as well as surrender all official documents, including Identification Cards as well as official vehicles (if any) before exiting.

Another stipulation contained in the revised PSR is that Permanent Secretaries shall now hold the office for a term of four years which can be renewed upon satisfactory evaluation of performance on the job.

While there seem to be commitments to the directive in the ministries, the required compliance has been in gross deficit in the departments and agencies.

Three directors in the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) have since retired in tandem with the new rule.

Further checks however show that many of the affected directors, especially those in departments and agencies of government have only observed the new rule in the breach.

In one of the anti-graft agencies, it was gathered that all of its five directors affected by this federal government directive are still clinging onto their offices.

Similarly, following a failure to comply with the new policy in the ministry of Information and Culture, a fresh directive was issued on the need for compliance on August 17.

LEADERSHIP recalls that moves to revise the PSR began in August 18, 2011 when the government of President Goodluck Jonathan constituted a Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, headed by former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Stephen Oronsaye.

The committee submitted its report on April 16, 2012, recommending the reduction in the number of federal agencies from 263 to 161; 38 agencies to be abolished; 52 agencies to be merged, and 14 to revert to departments in ministries, all to reduce cost of governance in the country.

In April 2014, President Jonathan ordered the establishment of a White Paper implementation committee on the report of the committee.

Though a White Paper on the report was issued and published in March, 2014 and was followed by the White Paper Implementation Committee, inaugurated in May, 2014, the succeeding Muhammadu Buhari government, in a curious twist, outrightly suspended all action on the implementation for over six years until it lately began moves in November 2021 towards the implementation of the White Paper with the inauguration of two sub-committees to review the main report and the document proper.

The two sub-committees which were given six weeks to conclude their work and submit reports, came up with the revised PSR which would reset the tenure of federal permanent secretaries and a new retirement directive for directors in MDAs with an implementation date that commenced on July 27, 2023.

Speaking at the inauguration of the two sub-committees in Abuja on November 4, 2021, Boss Mustapha, the immediate past Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), said the non-implementation of the White Paper on the Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies was hugely bleeding the federal government of its scarce resources, adding that one of the areas of concern to successive federal governments “has always been the increasing cost of governance without seeming concurrent productivity in the quality of service delivery.”

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, had in a circular addressed to all Permanent Secretaries, Accountant-General of the Federation, Auditor-General for the Federation and Heads of Extra Ministerial Departments to start implementation of the revised public service rule from July 27, 2023.

The revised PSR 020909 stated that “A director or its equivalent by whatever nomenclature it is described in MDAs shall compulsorily retire upon serving eight years on Tenure Policy 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.”

The director of information for the head of the service of the federation, Mohammed Ahmed, who could not give figures on the number of affected directors, said that the rule cuts across all the public services in Nigeria.

Ahmed said as far as a civil servant is up to eight years in any MDA as a director, or whatever nomenclature it is called, he or she must retire and go.

Already, the Ministry of Information and Culture has issued a fresh circular directing directors affected by the new Public Service Rule (PSR) 2021 to immediately exit the service.

In a circular addressed to “All Directors/Heads of Unit” of the Ministry of Information on behalf of the Permanent Secretary by Ms. Equere E (HRM), the affected directors were instructed to hand over to their next in line following the revised PSR.

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