After weeks of speculations and permutations, the Head of Federal Civil Service, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, has proceeded on an indefinite leave to enable the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, conclude investigations of alleged financial misdeeds against her.
And to pander to the complex ethno-religious and gender politics in the country, another woman, a permanent secretary, from the south of Nigeria, Dr. (Mrs.) Yemi Esman, has been named to replace her as temporary head of all federal civil servants.
Many reasons have been adduced for Oyo-Ita’s travails and removal, prominent among which was her face-off with President Muhammadu Buhari’s right-hand man and chief of staff, Abba Kyari. Both were seen having a hot and bitter exchange of words on network television during a Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
But others, including EFCC, say her problems have more to do with alleged corruption.
In another surprising take that will please the women-folk, President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the tenure of seven permanent secretaries by one year. Four of them are women, in a move the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation says the President took to stabilise the civil service
A government statement announced the latest developments in Abuja. It reads in full:
STABILIZATION OF THE FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE
“President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Dr. Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan as the Acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation with immediate effect.
“Dr. Mrs. Yemi-Esan, who is the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources takes over from Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, who has been directed to proceed on an indefinite leave to allow conclusion of the investigation being carried out by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“The President has also approved the extension of the tenure of seven (7) retiring Permanent Secretaries for a period of one calendar year with effect from 1st October, 2019 to ensure stability in the Federal Civil Service and effective delivery on the nine priority areas of the administration as well as the mandates given to the new Ministers.
“The affected Permanent Secretaries are:
i. Mrs. Georgina Ehuriah – Ministry of Interior
ii. Mrs. Ifeoma I. Anagbogu – Federal Ministry of Women Affairs
iii. Mrs. Grace Gekpe – Federal Ministry of Information & Culture
iv. Dr. Umar M. Bello – Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development
v. Suleiman Mustapha Lawal – Ministry of Foreign Affairs
vi. Mrs. Comfort C. Ekaro – Federal Ministry of Water Resources
vii. Mr. Olusegun A. Adekunle – General Services Office (Office of the
Secretary to the Government of the Federation)
“Similarly, Mr. President has directed the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to commence the process for the selection of new Permanent Secretaries to replace all retiring Permanent Secretaries.
“The decision of Government to extend the tenure of these Permanent Secretaries is premised on the need to ensure that the new Ministers are properly guided, briefed about their sectors and to ensure that a solid foundation is laid for the delivery on the Presidential Mandate which they jointly signed.
“The Permanent Secretaries will also help the Ministers to manage the process for the preparation of the 2020 Budget in line with the commitment of Government to return to the January-December budget circle and help develop various policies and programmes aimed at lifting 100million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
“The action of Mr. President is in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 171 (2) d of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”