Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia
The government of Alex Otti has dusted a dormant policy that regulates tenure of top civil servants and prevents sit-tight syndrome at the high echelon of the state work force.
The state Head of Service(Hos), Joy I. Maduka, made this known in a circular No. HSA/S.0001/SUB.1/123 dated September 19, 2023, saying that it was in line with the ongoing sanitisation of the civil service.
It was the resurrection of a dormant circular No. HSA/S.0074/11/91 of August 1, 2011, which had pegged the tenure of Permanent Secretaries and Directors at maximum of eight years.
The circular was last implemented by the administration of Theodore Orji which later abandoned it after achieving a specific purpose.
The succeeding administration of Okezie Ikpeazu, ignored the policy and even gave extension of service to many public servants after retirement.
But the HoS said the present administration, “has found it necessary to reinstate (the) policy,” on the tenure of Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Heads of Non-ministerial Departments.
She explained that the decision was part of the continuing reforms in the country, adding that the policy “will reinvigorate the Public Service, restore morale of officers, and unlock the new Abia of hard working officers”.
“Accordingly, government has approved that Permanent Secretaries and heads of non-miniisterial departments shall hold office a term of four(4) years,” the HoS said.
However, she stated that the four-year tenure was renewable for another four years, “subject to satisfactory performance and no more” while Directors “will compulsorily retire after serving eight years.”
The HoS pointed out that notwithstanding the policy on tenure of the top civil servants, the extant Rule 02809 of the Abia State Public Service Rules would still apply.
The said Rule stipulates that public servants must retire on attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever comes first.
With this new development all Permanent Secretaries, Heads of non-ministerial departments and directors who have spent eight years or more on the post by January 1, 2024.
To this end, top civil servants expected to be blown away by the impending hurricane have been advised “to commence their retirement activities.”
“This is to obviate any form of delay in receiving their retirement benefits,” the HoS said, adding that the prospective retirees were required to give government three months notice.
The implementation of this circular has effectively sealed the fate of all the Permanent Secretaries who have been on suspension since June.