A RENEWED CALL TO MORE EXCELLENT SERVICE
Welcome & Gratitude
It is my honour to warmly welcome you as the new Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA). Thank you for attending this Handover Ceremony marking my assumption of duty today.
Let me start by expressing my gratitude to His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, FCA, NPoM, for my deployment to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
I must also express appreciation to all staff of the MNDA for being part of the work carried out in this Ministry over the years. Finally, thank you Mrs. Lauren Braide, the Director overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary for holding the fort from the time the erstwhile Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Aminu Bisalla retired, to my arrival and assumption of duty.
Today brings back memories. Many of you are aware that I started my career in the Federal Civil Service in the MNDA as an Assistant Director, Appointments and Discipline, and later Deputy Director, Appointments, Promotion and Discipline. After a brief period of Secondment in the Public Interest to my home State of Bayelsa, I returned to the Service and ultimately was posted back to this Ministry as the Director, Planning Research and Statistics. From here I headed to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, where I was appointed a Permanent Secretary in August 2017 and deployed to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation as the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office. It is, therefore, with nostalgia but also with a sense of purpose, that I return to this Ministry of my Federal Service birth.
MNDA – Unique Ministry - Peculiar Mandate
Our Ministry, MNDA, is not just another Ministry in the Federal Civil Service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The MNDA is a Special Purpose Ministry established for the coordination and implementation of the policies and Programmes of the Federal Government of Nigeria, for the development of the Niger Delta Region. We are the first and only Ministry in Nigeria, established for the development of a region. We, therefore, have a special and peculiar mandate. We must acknowledge that all the work we do in this Ministry is first for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta, and second, the Federal Government and the good people of Nigeria. It thus follows, that any inefficiency, incompetence, infraction or dereliction of duty, impacts directly on the people and increases their suffering. In all our activities therefore, we must focus on reducing the suffering of the people of the Region.
To guide us in our work in this Ministry, the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan 2017-2020, approved by the Federal Executive Council must be our guide. In line with the Strategic Plan, we should aim at increasing the quality of Public Service delivery, leading to the provision of a more lasting trajectory for the progressive development of the country. I commit to providing leadership for the attainment of the four (4) broad goals of the policy enunciated by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, as follows:
• Develop and institutionalise an Efficient, Productive, Incorruptible and Citizen-Centred (EPIC) Culture in the Civil Service.
• Design and implement an Enterprise Content Management System.
• Develop an Entrepreneurial Culture and Commercial Orientation in the Civil Service.
• Improve the Welfare and Benefit Packages for Public Servants.
To achieve these goals, there would be a well-planned change management, anti-corruption and transparency initiatives, mandatory structured training programmes, enterprise content management, ICT infrastructure development, capacity building training programmes, and welfare benefits such as home ownership under the Federal Integrated Staff Housing Programme. The actualization of these goals and aspirations of the Strategic Plan would change the narrative associated with the Public Sector as one dominated by poor performance, stagnation and self-interest in contrast to the values of excellence.
Our ability to achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan would take the Civil Service back to the days when Nigerian Public Service workers offered robust contributions, pioneered and implemented some of the most outstanding and community-driven Projects and Programmes in the history of our country and in the development of major sectors of the economy.
Our greatest duty is to provide the expertise and administrative framework, act as the engine room, and do all within our competence to support the political leadership of the Federal Government to achieve its vision for the people of the Niger Delta. We must, therefore, work hard in ways that are consistent with Government’s policy decisions, and handle practical issues and planning, with determination and patience. I implore everyone to work to uphold the wisdom, excellence and good reputation of the Public Service as well as promote the principles of good governance.
As Civil Servants, our conduct and operations must be guided by the Public Service Rules (PSR) Extant Circulars, Rules, Regulation and Laws, and the core principles and values of the Federal Civil Service as epitomized in the EPIC culture envisioned by our visionary and indefatigable Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. In our operations, we must adhere to the principles and values of Truth, Honesty, Fairness and Justice. To this end, as your Leader and the Chief Accounting Officer of the Ministry, I pledge to always uphold the truth. I shall be honest with you all the time. I shall always endeavour to do right to all men and women, without fear or favour. In the same vain, I urge you to commit to doing the right thing all the time. Whenever you are in doubt about what to do or how to do it, check and seek guidance in the Public Service Rules (PSR) and extant circulars and if you are unable to find the answer, then just do The Next Right Thing. Since justice and charity begins at home, I come willing and able, to look into all anomalies with a view to ensuring that we eliminate bitterness, bad blood and rancour in our operations.
There would be strict adherence to Civil and Public Service Rules, operations and traditions. By-passing of constituted authority, circumventing of due process, and capture or usurpation of Schedules of work, if such circumstances exist, must be regarded as things of the past. We must work as a united front to advise political leadership appropriately and implement Government Policies and Programmes effectively and efficiently.
Transparency must be regarded as an important issue in our administration and activities. In this era of War Against Corruption, we have a major responsibility to fight against bribery, corruption, waste and irregularities. As our President, Muhammadu Buhari has said, “if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us!”
Partnerships, Collaborations and Corporate Social Responsibility
Our experience in Public Service has made us to realize that in the process of serving the needs of the Public not every person would be happy, yet it is our duty to win the hearts of the people and help the Federal Government achieve its vision of development and better life for the people of the Niger Delta. It is our responsibility to handle issues speedily and win the admiration of the Public. This means that Good governance requires good public relations.
We must, therefore, strategize on ways to build good public relations, through partnerships and collaborations, and to leverage on the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility to serve the people; while avoiding unreasonable delays. We will in this regard partner and collaborate with Public Sector Agencies as well as the Organized Private Sector. We shall also explore Public-Private Partnerships.
Quality work in quality time will be our watchword. Let us make resumption of work at 8 a.m. the norm rather than the exception. Let us put in the minimum of eight (8) hours for which the Federal Government is paying and where necessary, add a few more hours. We must enhance the quality of our services and their delivery. To the extent that the MNDA is unique and different in purpose, let us be different in service-delivery. Let us work to make the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs stand out and be known for good. While fulfilling the responsibility given by the people to us, it is our duty to raise our Ministry to a position of greatness in the Federal Civil Service and the Nation by using our knowledge, understanding, wisdom and experience to fulfil our obligations and responsibilities with commitment and dedication. As Civil Servants we can impact and transform the lives of the citizens with the immense power of public policy within our grasp. In service delivery in this Ministry, we must strive to be responsive, efficient, and synonymous with excellent performance. In summary, let each of us strive to be that Efficient, Productive, Incorruptible and Citizen-Centred (EPIC) Civil Servant.
Rewards & Recognition
To encourage excellence, meritocracy and ensure high level of staff motivation, we would establish a robust performance driven Rewards and Recognition System, even before it is implemented Service-wide as planned by the OHCSF. This would be our way of institutionalizing the implementation of the relevant Public Service Rules on Awards and Recognitions (PSR 150101 – 150107). I believe that this would, among others,
• serve as motivational tool to bring out the best from the workforce;
• recognise long service of staff;
• Enhance Staff personal development for career progression;
• Institutionalize a professional framework for performance and service delivery mindset;
• link rewards and recognitions to measurable performance outcomes; and
• encourage healthy competitiveness in service delivery.
Let me use this inaugural meeting to assure you that I shall do all that is within my power and authority, to ensure that there is reward for outstanding performance.
Coming from the Service Welfare Office in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, I am conscious of the Federal Government’s concern about most of the issues that cause conflict with workers. As former Permanent Secretary of the Service Welfare Office, I assure you that better attention would be paid to all issues that usually lead to conflict between workers and management so they can be nipped in the bud before they escalate. Some of the strategies that would be adopted to improve the relationship would include regular interaction with the Union leaders representing the different groups of workers, and improving the line of communication between the Unions and Management.
My message should be loud and clear – we are playing in the same Team and in the same League. We are all Civil Servants who belong to the Executive Arm of the Government and are working to deliver service to the people of the Niger Delta and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That being the case, the era of “we” versus “them” is over. Now is the time for all of us to team up to deliver quality service to the nation. We have a right to safe and conducive work environment, remuneration, compensation, welfare and benefit packages that would motivate us to be productive.
In concluding, I wish to thank the overseeing Director, all the Directors and Staff of the MNDA for this heartwarming welcome. I appreciate the fact that this is more than an official welcome; indeed, it is a family welcome. I look forward to working with you to achieve the mandate of our Ministry. I pray that everyone of us would be blessed with physical strength, the right disposition, courage, and a sense of compassion, empathy, fairness and justice for the Niger Delta constituency we serve, to fulfil our duties in a satisfactory manner.
For my family, colleagues, friends and Directors who have accompanied me to this resumption ceremony, I thank you for your goodwill, prayers, support and counsel. I know that I can continue to rely on you. The Almighty God will continue to provide you with the help you need in your work and other endeavours. Welcome to a new vista. God bless you all.
Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack, mni
Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Abuja.
Thursday, 01 August 2019