The Federal Government on Saturday in Abuja, charged the newly appointed permanent secretaries to shun corrupt tendencies and offer sound, impartial, and technical advice to ministers.
Winifred Oyo-Ita, the acting Head of Service of the Federation (HOS), gave the charge at a one-day retreat organised for the permanent secretaries at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
The retreat, which has the theme, “The Change Agenda; Precept to Practice, Role of Permanent Secretaries”, was organised by the office of the Head of Service of the Federation.
“Permanent Secretary is a top post in the administrative hierarchy.
“Your appointment confers on you grave responsibilities to your fatherland; our citizens are expectant and we must deliver.
“Holders of this position are expected to be highly experienced technocrats, who are able to deliver sound, impartial, high-quality, technical advice to their ministers.
“This means we must continually build our own technical capacity to match or even exceed that of our ministers”, the HOS said.
She said that permanent secretaries were entrusted with the public purse and as accounting officers, their responsibilities were for life.
She said it was so because they could be called upon anytime in their lives to account for their time in office.
This, she said, was the reason they must shun acts of corruption and ensure strict compliance with the rules in the management of resources.
“Mr President`s body language to this regard is clear to everyone; anyone found wanting should not expect any protection”, Ms. Oyo-Ita said.
According to her, it is necessary for the permanent secretaries to strive to match the pace at which the political class wants to develop the country if they must remain relevant.
She, therefore, charged them to be computer-literate and to be abreast of latest developments in the face of the growing demand for transparency and accountability from public office holders.
The HOS, however, advised the permanent secretaries against being in competition with their ministers, saying doing so would be unnecessary and could be suicidal.
She reminded the permanent secretaries that the Federal Government was serious about its change ideology and advised them to embrace it.
Ms. Oyo-Ita said the dwindling resources available to the government occasioned by the slump in the prices of oil in the international market, had made it imperative for the economy to be diversified.
She said that because that was one of the cardinal programmes of the present administration, there was need for attitudinal change among public servants.
She tasked the permanent secretaries to prove themselves as true agents of change as expected of them by the government to enable them to deliver on their mandates.
“We are indeed the barometers for measuring the success and impact of government policies and programmes by the public.
“Your conduct can earn you respect or scorn from the public depending on how you handle your responsibilities”, she said.
Ms. Oyo-Ita called on the permanent secretaries to energise and support their agencies, parastatals and commissions in a manner that would enable them to deliver government’s priority designed for the benefit of the people.
She spoke of the need for the permanent secretaries to be efficient, productive, incorruptible, and citizen-centred.
The acting HOS stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently demonstrated his faith in the civil service as an institution.
She said the President should not be disappointed.
Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who declared the retreat open, reminded the new permanent secretaries that the present administration would not tolerate corruption.
Mr. Lawal congratulated the permanent secretaries on their appointment and urged them to adhere strictly to the public service rules in discharging their responsibilities.