The Abia state government recently reactivated the policy that mandates Directors that have served for eight years to proceed on retirement. The same will go for Permanent Secretaries that have served for four and eight years respectively.
By close analysis, we can place the average age of a Director in the state civil service at about 45 and 50 years, and this is the peak of their service life. Thus, it is at this age that civil servants commit energetically to service and in turn give in their best as they hope to be elevated to Permanent Secretary positions which typifies the ultimate crown for deserving civil servants.
One can therefore understand the shock that accompanied the re-enforcement of the policy retiring directors after eight years.
Some of them are still confused and have refused to proceed on the mandatory three months, in lieu of retirement notice, not because they want to disobey the government but for lack of direction of what next to do. An acquaintance of mine who was affected by the policy asked me the other day, ‘ What will I go home to do ?’ To stay at home with my young children who are still in Secondary school?’ From his facial expression alone you could see how frustrated and disoriented that he is. The man’s mood represents the mood of many others whose career is being cut shot at the peak of their career
Like somebody would say in Igbo ‘mgbe ura bidoro towa uto’. In translation, ‘when the sweetness of sleep has just begun’. I also know about a high ranking ICAN member whose knowledge of accounting will be wasted by this policy.
By this policy, the service is now left in the hands of some of those whose interest and commitment to service aren’t strong enough to sustain the fledgling administration . Most of them do not even understand the dynamics of civil service and core rudiment of bureaucratic principles that is the hallmark of the service. So, it results in skill gap and undue exposure to irregularities and floppy implementation of government policies and programs.
If the policy is not reversed then, the state would have lost some of the best that the civil service has ever produced. Those who, overtime, have been well trained to implement the policies and programs of government.
The consequences is that the proverbial ‘ engine room’ which an effective civil service exemplifies may be on the verge of knocking.
I agree that I am no more in government hence not privy to the intentions behind reactivating the policy but what I know, from my years of experience in public service, is that an insistence to enforce the policy will definitely hurt the entire system as institutional memory of code of service will be completely lost with their sudden exit.
I therefore call on the Gorvernor to please resind the decision to implement the policy of retiring directors after eight years in order to stabilise the system against some topsy turvy consequences that naturally may have occurred following the retirement of former permanent Secretaries.
In place of retirement, the directors should be trained and retrained for more effective leadership that is in line with the policies and programs of the current government.
Ex – Abia Commissioner for finance 2015/19