Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said, past administrations abused the federal civil service and undermined service delivery to the people.
He stated this at the swearing in of eight permanent secretaries from eight states where vacancies existed.
According to him, past administrations “abused, undermined and destroyed the system of checks and balances within the civil service that was meant to protect and preserve the interest of our citizens.”
The president added that it was this systemic abuse of power that “significantly enriched a few privileged individuals while at the same time making the majority of our fellow citizens poorer and underserved.
“As a result, many Nigerians lost confidence in the government and its ability to deliver the required guidance and service to our people.”
President Buhari reiterated that his administration had since he came into office in May 2015, delivered on its three cardinal programmes: security, inclusive and diversified economic development and war against corruption and abuse of power.
He expressed satisfaction that in less than four years, “we have made progress on all fronts working very collaboratively with the civil service.”
Buhari charged the new appointees to key “into the administration’s programmes aimed at reforming Nigeria and restoring the confidence of Nigerians in government and the civil service.
“To enable you to achieve this, we approved the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan 2017 to 2020. This plan will ensure that the civil service is adequately manned and equipped to operate efficiently as it implements government policies for inclusive growth and development.
“When fully implemented, we would have successfully transformed the civil service into an efficient, productive, incorruptible and citizen-centreded machinery of government.
“Therefore, l wish to take this opportunity to solicit your support and cooperation as we implement all the programmes of government in a result-oriented manner that will leave an indelible legacy.
“In doing this, you must all remain above board and eschew partisanship your decisions and actions. You must strive to achieve excellence at all times. Your motto should be civility and serviceability.”
President Buhari assured the entire civil service and the wider public service of the commitment of his administration to its welfare and capacity development at all times.
He congratulated the newly-sworn in permanent secretaries, saying “this is a great achievement for which you should be proud. Only a tiny percentage of Nigerians make it to this level. I am sure that your journey to reach this apex position in the federal civil service has been full of challenges and sacrifices.
“Today you and your families will celebrate the reward of the decades of service that you have put in.
“As you celebrate this remarkable achievement, I also want to remind you that the oath you just took and the position you currently hold come with a lot of responsibilities.
“Now more than ever before, our country needs a very vibrant, professional and selfless civil service that will help our country overcome its pressing problems.
“As politicians, we develop policies and provide strategic direction for the nation. However, the task of implementing these policies and strategies rests in the hands of the civil service under the able guidance of the permanent secretaries.”
The permanent secretaries were sworn in shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
This is the second FEC meeting since the year began to be presided over by President Buhari, the first meeting held on January 9, where the establishment of four new private universities was approved.
The permanent secretaries took their oaths of office in two batches.
The new permanent secretaries are Abel, Olumuyiwa Enitan (Osun State), Dr. Mohammed Dikwa (Borno), Dr. Ajani Magdalene N. Olor (Delta) and Festus Yusuf Narai Daudu (Nasarawa). Others are Mbaeri, Maurice Nnamdi (Imo), Dr. Bakari Wadinga (Adamawa), Babatunde Lawal (Lagos), and Umakhihe Ernest Afolabi (Edo).