New public service rules may force out 512 directors

About 512 directors in the civil service who have spent eight years on the directorate cadre may be forced out of the service sequel to the implementation of the newly revised Public Service Rules, 2021, by the Federal Government.

The PSR, which takes effect from July 27, 2023, was launched by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation on July 28, 2023, in Abuja.

 The new rules also introduced a tenure policy for permanent secretaries who are now required to spend four years in office which is renewable subject to performance.

Sources in the Federal civil service confirmed to one of our correspondents on Thursday that the new rule is expected to affect as many as 512 directors who have stagnated on their position for eight years or more.

The PUNCH reports that the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, while unveiling the revised public service rules during the civil service rule last week, noted that the implementation would commence immediately.

Yemi-Esan noted that the rules were revised under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari but the launching was delayed until President Bola Tinubu took over in line with the ‘renewed hope’ agenda.

Already, the policy is generating tension and agitation in the civil service as some directors who spoke to our correspondents in confidence noted that a memo by the OHCSF had been sent to Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ensure compliance with the newly revised rules.

Yemi-Esan in the memo dated July 27, addressed to all Permanent Secretaries, Accountant-General of the Federation, Auditor-General of the Federation and Heads of Extra Ministerial Departments, ordered strict compliance with the revised rules.

It read, ‘’Following the approval of the revised Public Service Rules by the Federal Executive Council on the 27th of September, 2021 and its subsequent unveiling during the public service lecture during the commemoration of the 2023 Civil Service Week, the PSR has become operational with effect from 27 July, 2023.

“You are, therefore, to ensure full compliance with all provisions of the Public Service Rules, 2021. Please, ensure strict compliance with the contents of this circular.”

However, public servants opposed to the implementation of the new PSR insisted that it was in conflict with the mandatory 60 years retirement age for civil servants, citing relevant sections of the rules.

According to PSR 020908, the mandatory retirement age remains 60 years or 35 years in service as the case may be with the exemption of judicial officers, and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, among others.

The rule states that “The mandatory retirement age for all grades in the service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.

‘’No officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.

“The provision of (i) and (ii) above is without prejudice to prevailing conditions of service for Judicial Officers, Academic Staff of Universities and other Officers whose retirement age is at variance with (i) and (ii) above.”

But the revised PSR 020909 stipulates that, “A Director or its equivalent by whatever nomenclature it is described in MDAs shall compulsorily retire upon serving eight years on Tenure Policy on the post; and a Permanent Secretary shall hold office for a term of four years and renewable for a further term of four years, subject to satisfactory performance and no more.”

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The Spokesperson for the Office of the Head Service of the Federation, Muhammed Ahmed, who confirmed the new rule, said it was simply revised.

“These rules have been on, it was just revised. If you are a director and you have spent eight years in office, this new rule applies to you irrespective of the number of service years you have left,’’ he explained.

Meanwhile, several sources within the civil service explained that 512 directors may be compelled to leave the service.

A director who spoke in confidence said, “Well, I can say about 512. We have lots of directors in the ministry who have spent close to seven years and they might not even retire in the next three years because age is still on their side.

‘’When you go to some ministries, you see some directors who have been there for years. Some of them are deputy directors who can’t grow in the service so it may be a welcome development.”

Speaking on the new rules, the National President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Tommy Etim, noted that the association was involved in the drafting of the revised PSR.

He also noted that the newly introduced clause was a welcome development as it would stimulate career growth in the public service.

He said, “We were part of those responsible for the drafting of the policy. It is a very good policy which of course won’t affect those in academics and some others.

“Secondly, the tenured policy for Permanent Secretaries is also a very good development. What we are looking forward to now is the implementation of the policy. You know it is one thing for a policy to be in the public, the implementation is another thing entirely so we are really looking forward to seeing the implementation as we believe it will aid career growth in the civil service.”

Similarly, the Chairman of Joint Union Congress, Police Service Commission, Adoyi Adoyi, described the new service rule as a welcome development that will eliminate bureaucracy and fast-track the career growth of competent junior staff.

Speaking in a telephone interview, he added, “The new public service rule is a welcome development and I think the government is right in taking that step. The idea is that the system has to be sped up because there is a lot of personnel jam at the top.

‘’The structure of work is a pyramid, the higher you go the smaller the space. So, it is actually an informed decision to ensure that there is space for those who are coming behind.

“Remember that this was the policy that was in existence before the 2016 administration of former president Muhammadu Buhari though, no one knew what happened then that delayed its implementation.

“If you change the tenured position of permanent secretaries and directors, the implication is that junior staff behind might be affected. We see a lot of people retiring even without showing their quality or putting their skills to play which is not very good.’’

The labour leader further said none of the directors in the Police Service Commission would be affected by the new rule.

“Ironically, the new rule doesn’t affect anybody in the police service commission as we speak because we don’t have a director who has spent up to eight years in office,” he disclosed.

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