Our reporter

The ongoing process of selecting 16 directors to fill vacant permanent secretary positions in the federal civil service has again exposed the desperation of privileged Nigerians who are desperate to do everything they can to circumvent laid down rules for selfish interests.

It would be recalled that ALSC had two weeks ago reported that both physical and virtual examinations were ongoing among serving directors from different parts of Nigeria to fill vacant permanent secretary positions in the federal civil service.

We also reported that 14 of the new 16 Permanent Secretaries, when appointed will replace outgoing Permanent Secretaries in 14 states while two are to fill existing vacancies in two other states.

The 14 states whose tenure of permanent secretaries would soon elapse are Kwara, Kebbi, Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Kaduna, Kano, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe and Jigawa states who will retire in 2020, while the existing vacancies are in Zamfara and Kogi states.

However, we have been reliably informed by usually credible sources that while 160 candidates participated in the different stages of tests, only 41 qualified for oral exam.

One of the sources also told us that regrettably, the Nigerian monsters of corruption, tribalism, religious and undue pressure have reared their heads as state governors, serving federal ministers, top ranking lawmakers and traditional rulers are shuttling from pillar to pole, including Aso Rock villa to lobby for their preferred candidates, including demanding that some of those that could not participate in the oral exam due to poor performance should be among the successful ones.

The source told ALSC that apart from lobbying, some top officers of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation HOCSF are being threatened by people demanding that their candidates must be among those to be appointed as permanent secretaries.

We were also told that some of the lobbyists have so far met a brick-wall in the person of the Head of Service, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan who is insisting that only those that met all the requirements and emerged successful would he selected to fill the vacant positions.

We were also told that lobbyists who attempted to see Dr. Esan in person were only left with the taste of ash in their mouth as the woman has made herself inaccessible to them since the exercise began, while also instructing her staff to refer such lobbyists to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives that nobody should be allowed to influence or interfere in the process with a view of ensuring that candidates emerge on merit.

She was also quoted as borrowing a leaf from Mr. President’s famous 2015 Inaugural speech saying she is for “everybody and for Nobody.”.

Another key source who spoke on the condition of anonymity described the selection exercise as an ‘air tight’ process which would make it very difficult for anyone including the Head of Service to manipulate.

According to the source, several layers of scrutiny as well as checks and balances were deliberately put in place to maintain the credibility of the exercise. For instance, the source disclosed that membership of the oral interview comprised former heads of Service of the Federation, serving and retired permanent secretaries, representatives of anti-graft and security agencies as well as, representatives of the private sector.

“This intimidating formation of panelists is enough to unsettle even the best of the best of candidates. But I believe it is necessary considering the number of candidates vying to fill the vacancies and to take pressure off the HOS considering our ‘who know who’ system in Nigeria”, the source stated.

It was also gathered from another source that attempts to influence the process from the corridors of power within the villa are also not yielding desired results as the body language of principal officers there suggest that it cannot be business as usual.

President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the procedure for the appointment of new permanent secretaries to fill the existing vacancies in 16 states of the federation.s

A statement to that effect was issued in March and signed by Mrs. Olawunmi Ogunmosunle, Director of Information, office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF).

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