FG To End Dispute Between Permanent Secs, Ministers – Oyo-Ita

The Federal Government has begun putting measures in place to end the recurring disputes between permanent secretaries and other stakeholders in public sector administration.

This was disclosed by Mrs. Winnifred Oyo-Ita, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, while delivering her keynote address at an induction training programme organised for permanent secretaries in Abuja on Friday.

Oyo-Ita said the induction was part of government’s deliberate efforts to rebuild mutual trust and confidence among parties concerned, which according to her would enhance service delivery to Nigerians.

“Over time, my office has observed recurring tension between permanent secretaries and other stakeholders in public sector administration such as ministers and their aides, members of the national assembly, heads of extra-ministerial agencies domiciled under them and organised labour unions,” she said.

“It has been observed that there are gaps that need to be filled to minimise areas of conflict.

“There is also an urgent need to build mutual trust and confidence amongst all parties concerned to enhance efficient service delivery to Nigerian citizens.”

The Head of Service further added that permanent secretaries’ three generic roles come with a lot of challenges especially in the present era of dwindling financial resources and escalating competing demands.

Oyo-Ita also explained that the induction and other programmes have been designed to assist the permanent secretaries build their capacities to play their roles effectively.

The HoS said Friday’s induction was a the first in the series, adding that there are plans for a joint retreat of ministers and permanent secretaries in the future as soon as the required funds are available.

On his part, Acting Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Simon Etim, identified disbursement of funds and procurement matters as major causes of the frictions.

He stressed the need for constant consultation and dialogue between the permanent secretaries and ministers or other political heads.

He said: “There are insinuations in some quarters that the manner in which some permanent secretaries have exercised their responsibility appear to generate friction and conflicts between the affected permanent secretaries and their political heads.

“In most cases, the issues around such frictions are mainly on disbursement of funds and procurement matters.

“Permanent secretaries often complain of the overbearing pressures from political heads to breach extant rules as accounting officers for which they will be held directly accountable to satisfy the financial demands of political heads.

“Such situation requires tact and knowledge of extant rules which permanent secretaries should politely place at the disposal of such political heads.

“Furthermore, there is need for constant consultation and dialogue between the permanent secretaries and their ministers/political heads on the disbursement of funds.

“There should be flexibility rather than rigidity on both parties without infringement on the rules.”

Also speaking, Dr. Yemi Esan, chairman of the induction’s planning committee, noted that the event was coming at a time the nation was witnessing evolution of the civil service.

She said it was the obligation of the civil service to drive the implementation of government’s programmes.

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