“Kiss and make up” – President Jonathan urges Perm. secretaries and Ministers to work in harmony

by Laila Ibrahim

President Goodluck Jonathan has complained about an existing non cordial working relationship between ministers and permanent secretaries in the federal civil service.

The President stated this on Wednesday, while swearing in six new federal permanent secretaries prior to the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa.

Jonathan said it had come to his attention that there were complaints of “cold relationships” between the political and administrative heads of ministries, agencies and departments of the federal government. He said the machinery of government could not function effectively when key actors in the system are not on the same page.

“Lately we have received too many complaints about cold relationship between permanent secretaries and ministers. If permanent secretaries don’t work with the ministers and ministers don’t work with permanent secretaries, there is no way we can do what we are expected to do.”

“The ministry is meant to be run by the political head, administrative head, accounting officer and of course the directors. So, if there is conflict or cold relationship between the key actors in any department of government, it is a recipe for failure,” the President said.

“So, in any ministry where the permanent secretary and the minister are not in good terms, that is another way of telling Nigerians that both of you have failed the country. Yesterday, I had a conversation with the Head of Service of the Federation and I was even beginning to think about how we can develop a system that will stop this.”

” I use this opportunity to plead with our permanent secretaries and the ministers that for the interest of this country they must see how they will work together’’ he said,” he added.

Jonathan also said that conflicts stem from a blatant disregard of due process by some official in the management of government business, adding that such conflicts would be minimal if government officials put aside their personal interests and adhere strictly to due process in their official conducts and decisions.

He also bemoaned the high level of indiscipline and impunity in the civil service and government establishments, while urging the newly sworn permanent secretaries to enforce discipline in their respective ministries.

“These days you hardly see a permanent secretary querying a director or a director querying an assistant director; assistant director querying a principal officer or principal querying a senior officer. And in a system where there is no discipline, definitely you cannot get the best output. You can’t assume that everybody will do the right thing. Filtration is a process and we must be able to bring discipline to bear in the service if we must give our country the best.” he added.

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