Some senior federal civil servants have expressed displeasure over the portrayal of directors as incompetent after the recent release of examination results for the position of permanent secretaries.
The senior civil servants criticised a comment attributed to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HOS), Mrs Folasade Yemi-Esan, that only 20 directors out of 85 initially invited to sit for promotion exam to the rank of Permanent Secretary scaled through the exercise.
Dr. Yemi-Esan explained that out of the 85 candidates, four of them did not show up for the examination due to what she suspected was fear of failure.
Yemi-Esan said there was the need to emphasise meritocracy and integrity in the selection process for permanent secretaries.
“It should not be about the number of successful candidates but the quality of the candidates,” she argued.
Speaking to PRNigeria over the issue, one of the top senior civil servants said the posture of Yemi-Esan did not do justice to the directors’ invaluable experience garnered over the decades.
The officer who pleaded anonymity said: “It is distasteful, disgraceful, dishonourable and dishonest for Dr Yemi-Esan who also rose through the public service to denigrate our directors over a discredited examination that has been questioned for favouring cronies.
“Just recently, there were media reports which alleged that the same Head of Service through the Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN) extorted about N23million from 92 applicants vying for the position of permanent secretaries of various ministries in Nigeria by compelling them to pay N250,000 each for a one-week training programme.
“Unfortunately while the position of a permanent secretary is a political appointment that should reflect federal character principle, some states including Bauchi and Ebonyi do not have a representation as they claimed that their directors failed the exams.
“Apart from gender imbalance in the so-called exam that denied adequate female representation who sat for the exam, there are other controversies that are now coming to light.
“We wish to therefore urge President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to cancel the exam and use his discretion to appoint permanent secretaries through a transparent and judicious process that emphasises on seniority, experience, and qualification among other credible criteria used in the past.”
Meanwhile, the Centre for Public Accountability has also called for the cancellation and review of the recently concluded Promotion Exams from Directorship cadre to Permanent Secretary rank in the country.
A statement by the Director, of Public Governance Monitoring CPA, Nuhu Adams, alleged that the process was marred with huge controversies.
The statement read in part: “The Centre for Public Accountability in her quest to ensure that all strata of the states are performing optimally and devoid of corrupt practices usually witnessed with the Civil Service that is being maintained by Taxpayers Fund.
“We followed the recently concluded Promotion Exams from Directorship cadre to Permanent Secretary rank and discovered it was marred with huge controversies that call for total cancellation and review of the entire process.
“It will be recalled that 85 Directors from 5 states of the federation and two geo-political zones, namely North Central and North East zones sat for promotion exams on the 6th of November, 2023, with results released on the 7th of November, 2023.
“It was reliably gathered that long before this exercise, there had been complaints about the composition of the Examination Committee.
“As a result of this controversy and lack of trust in the exercise, 4 of the qualified Directors refused to show up to write the said exam despite initially registering for it. This is aside of the Directors that declined to register for the exams due to lack of confidence in the selection process that would end up producing Permanent Secretaries already predetermined by the Head of Service.
”When contacted over the allegations, the Director of Communication at the Office of the Head of Federal Civil Service, Mr. Mohammed Ahmed, denied the allegation of nepotism and irregularities in the process.
Ahmed told PRNigeria that the recruitment followed rigorous and transparent processes involving relevant institutions and agencies.
“You should be aware that various levels of assessment to test the candidates’ competence were undertaken including verification and screening of credentials which involved security and Anti-Corruption agencies.
“Similarly, other stages are written examination on public service and policy issues, information and communications technology proficiency and oral interviews which were conducted in the most transparent manner.”
As the Head of Service had said, the emphasis is on meritocracy and integrity of the selection process and the quality of the candidates.