Senate to stop political appointees from heading govt agencies

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By Henry Umoru

ABUJA—WORRIED by the appointment of politicians by the Federal Government to head agencies and parastatals, ahead of career civil servants, the Senate is currently working on a bill to halt the practice.

According to the Senate, it is a disservice for civil servants not to be given the opportunity to head organisations they laboured for decades to build.

The Bill, titled Public Service Efficiency Bill, is designed to allow civil servants head government agencies and parastatals.

Speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, noted that bringing people from outside to head government agencies and parastatals had done more harm than good to the system.

Abdullahi, who noted that the Bill would be presented for first reading in June, said some of the appointees had little knowledge of the workings of organisations they headed, adding that this often led to anti-people policies, reduced productivity and other problems.

“I have a Bill I am working on. I am trying to bring my experience of how little things have brought the public service to what it is now,’’ he said.

On the the objective of the proposed bill, Senator Abdullahi said:  “First, it is to improve the efficiency of the public service in terms of delivery of service through government programmes and initiatives. It is well known that the public service represents the institutional memory.

“Many governments that have come and gone are frustrated with what is happening in the service. Various efforts have been underway to reform the service, but some of these efforts, if you look at them clearly, are not backed by concrete legislation.

‘’What I intend to do is that,    having come from the service myself, and I have had very painful experiences, I have seen areas where frustration has set in among civil servants, leading to low morale and poor delivery of service.

“The essence of this bill, actually, is to look at some of these key areas like the relationship between the permanent secretary and the account officer with the minister as the political head. At the same time, particularly when you look at the core technical departments with heavy technical input, what is the relationship between the permanent secretary and the line directors?

‘’All these are grey areas that have been overlooked. From my experience, I have realised that until we do something about it, the service may not be able to continuously deliver on government programmes and initiatives as expected.

“There is also the issue of where you are given a clear mandate, but the authority lies somewhere else. You are not even having the sufficient authority to carry out your duty. This bill seeks to find solution to some of these areas.

“There is also the issue between the ministries and their parastatals and agencies. The essence of extra-ministerial agencies and parastatals is to enhance performance but what we see today is that they are constrained by the nature of service, where those in the main ministry tend to over centralise certain decisions. In the end, services are delayed unnecessarily.”

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