By Mumini AbdulKareem
A former Head of Service (HoS) in Kwara State, Alhaji Shehu Gafar has warned the new possessor of the office, Mrs Susan Dupe Oluwole to be wary of politicians in the state and their antics which could seriously derail her mission to improve the civil service.
Shehu Gafar who combined the HoS portfolio with Secretary to the State Government (SSG) during his tenure advised Oluwole to be focused, steadfast and avoid impunity in the course of her duty.
Oluwole, from Jebba in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara North succeeded Hajia Zahra Omar who also hailed from the region, three weeks ago.
Gafar who wished the new HoS well expressed his happiness following the emergence of women at higher level of government in the state.
Speaking exclusively with National Pilot, he advised Oluwole not to allow politicians to put her in their pockets turning and twisting her according to their wish, adding that concentration on government house is killing civil service in Kwara State.
“I want her to be steadfast, focused, not allow impunity or unnecessary political pressure. Her predecessor has done very well though with short time. Hajia Omar stood well and behaved like a real head who takes decisions and take full responsibility for them. That is the kind of leadership I expect from the new Head of Service.
“She should not allow politicians to put her in their pockets, twisting her around, at the end of the day, it is the same people that will come out to blame her. She should be fair, just and transparent in her dealings. She must be bold in holding on to the truth and must be able to stand any pressure to ensure the service is protected,” he added.
On the civil service, Garar said: “I am not sure they are working any more. If you go to ministries, the commissioners just wear toga of portfolios but nothing is happening in their offices. There is over concentration of government work at government house all over the country not only in Kwara rendering the civil service impotent. Yet we accuse the civil servants of not doing well. They are not being given responsibility and authority to execute it.
“You cannot blame them. The civil servants I know when I was there, a ministry has a budget for the year and in the budget, there are projects and programmes which must have gone through many processes before it becomes appropriation law to be passed by the House of Assembly and assented by the government.
“Whatever project is meant to be executed, the money is there in the budget and all the due processes will be followed, they have free hand, there is nothing like cash backing or approval because it is already approved. We waste a lot of time in government.
“The government brought the budget which the legislature approves and sent back for assent by the governor. The same governor will now want to be approving every little thing you want to do in the budget as if it’s new. That is not done. The civil servants these days… I don’t think they have sufficient training or exposure, they are not being given responsibilities. Yes they have been giving them appointments, promotion and taking their salaries as at when due but that is not it, they are the engine room of governance.
“A Special Adviser has no budgetary position, yet he is the one spending public funds. You cannot hold a Permanent Secretary responsible for the budget under his ministry which the law says he is personally responsible. I don’t think we have the right civil service in place, we need to improve the system, we need to give to them, what is theirs. Allow them to function and develop,” he submitted.
He said the idea of one Civil Servants or officer remaining in one position for 12 years is not right.
“Maybe he got there as Level 8 or 9 and rose to Level 15 doing the same job, where is the development or exposure and these are the same people we expect in the future to become Permanent Secretaries or Head of Service, what service can they do when they themselves have not been exposed.”