From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The federal government has given instructions to protocol officers and those in charge of international travel offices in ministries, extra-ministerial departments, and agencies (MDAs) to carefully review and expeditiously handle requests for international travel and foreign training.
Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF), Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, who gave the directive on Tuesday, explained that it was part of attempts to reduce costs by strictly adhering to regulations for international travel.
She urged the officers to always make reference to extant Circulars and relevant provisions of the Public Service Rules (PSRs).
Yemi-Esan was by the Permanent Secretary of the Special Duties Office, Faruk Yusuf Yabo, at a one-day workshop in Abuja on the requirements for processing requests for approval for international travel and foreign training.
The workshop is aimed at sensitizing the Desk Officers in MDAs responsible for official travel arrangements to promote cost-saving measures in the light of dwindling national resources, having observed that some MDAs have not been complying with extant rules, as well as templates in forwarding their request for approval of International travels and training to be funded by the federal government.
In light of the fact that international engagements can occasionally be last-minute, she suggested that the concerned Permanent Secretary and/or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) should always notify the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties Office – OHCSF on time.
Due to the impossibility of retrospective approval, she advised that it should be highlighted that all requests are handled on their own merits, provided they are strategic, necessary for the MDAs’ mission, and budgeted in the current Appropriations Act.
Earlier in her address, the Director Civil Service Inspectorate Department in the OHCSF, Mrs Otelemete Olusanya, stated that it had been noticed over time that Travel Desk Officers did not always include the proper and necessary documentation with their requests when processing or forwarding them to the Head of Service of the Federation for approvals. This she said makes timely processing challenging.
She lamented that despite the fact that a similar workshop was held last year, some MDAs are still not adhering to guidelines and circulars, hence a repeat of the Workshop.
She added that the workshop will enable Desk Officers to report back and impress on their principals in their respective MDAs the need to forward travel requests two (2) weeks ahead of the estimated/expected travel time to enable the OHCSF to process approvals timely unlike what is currently operational in some MDAs.
In their separate presentations, the representative of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Nuhu Mahmud Sani, noted that the formulation of budgets is a priority of every government, adding that no country is able to cater for all of its needs. While the representative of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr John Okor Odey, disclosed that the Nigerian Government is determined to save costs in the prevailing economic situation, in order to have more funds available for other priority projects.