MY EXTEMPORAL ON THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL SWEARING-IN OF PERMANENT SECRETARIES, AT THE BANQUET HALL, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, YENAGOA ON FRIDAY 20TH JULY, 2012
I wish to congratulate our new Permanent Secretaries that have just taken their oath of office and oath of allegiance. Let me on behalf of a grateful state, a state that you have all toiled and served, a state that you have sacrificed to build, congratulate you on this well deserved honour.
Let me say that your appointment as Permanent Secretaries signals your arrival at the apex of the public service of our dear state and therefore you are now at the top of your chosen profession, therefore I say congratulations and I wish you all the best in the years and in the journey ahead.
About two weeks ago, I swore-in Chairman and members of the Bayelsa State Civil Service Commission and on that occasion, I said over and over again, our resolve to restore the public service to its pride of place and glory once again.
I did say on that occasion, that we are going to motivate, train and continue to train our public service, to reposition it as one of the foremost civil service in the country. I also indicated at the occasion that we were going to begin the construction of the Public Service Training Institute to enable us train and re-train the public service to meet the needs of the service in the state.
But at that occasion, as you may recall, I also stated that we were going to re-invigorate our determination which we started since coming into office to check the excesses, which as you all know, clearly abound in the public service.
As you know, we have been pursuing a verification programme of our workers and let me use this occasion once again to thank you all the public servants of this state for your understanding and cooperation and solidarity. The verification exercise is an ongoing process.
Let me use this occasion to say that we have taken all these strategic steps to reposition the public service of this state. The workers verification programme has yielded some results, very wonderful results. We have achieved some significant reduction in our wage bill, that is still not yet good enough and we are going to re-invigorate it further.
I want to thank the State House of Assembly because I know that they are giving the expeditious hearing to the bill that we have sent to them to further criminalise payroll and other fraudulent activities in the public service.
About the ceremony that we are here to witness, let me say that we followed due process in making this appointment in exercise of my constitutional powers and as all of you, Permanent Secretaries just sworn-in will attest, not one of you lobbied any of us in government. None of you knew you were going to be made Permanent Secretaries until the decision was taken and announcement made.
For most of you, I am seeing you for the first time. We took the decision to appoint Permanent Secretaries to fill existing vacancies in that very high cadre of leadership. We consulted the appropriate quarters in our government and gave a clear directive for the names of the most senior public officers from every Local Government Area to be made available and that is what we acted on.
But because we know that we must sometimes take deliberate measures to project and protect the women folk in our society who have played a very critical role in our development as a state and as a society, I also directed the Head of Service to, in addition to the general seniority list, send me the list of the most senior women in the public service, local government by local government and that is why we have this considerable number of women who are also part of the number who have been appointed. And that is an ongoing thing because in this government we believe that we must give a pride of place and sometimes go a step further to project and protect our women. And when we talk about women, the need to encourage and project them, this sometimes looks like a distant concept. But ladies and gentlemen and fellow Bayelsans, the women we are talking about in reality, are our daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and they deserve to be projected and protected in our service to our people.
And so the permanent secretaries who just subscribed to their oath of office, you have renewed your oath of allegiance to this great state and all persons. And from available information that I have been briefed, you all are persons of proven integrity, sound character whose dedication and service of the cause of our state through out your careers in the public service have earned you this enviable positions.
Let me therefore, turn to the newly sworn-in permanent secretaries of this great state and that on behalf of your grateful state, I like to thank you all and all other permanent secretaries, senior public officers of this great state for your continuing and abiding dedication, service and solidarity to the worthy cause of our people.
Let me assure you that as long as you do what is right and proper in the service of our people, this government like every other government will stand with you and by you at all times.
APPOINTMENT OF A NON-INDIGENE AS PERMANENT SECRETARY
But let me also take another issue, which you all are familiar with. But before then I will talk about what informed the appointment of the medical doctor who is here with us today, Dr Samayain. As some of you may know, a lot of people raised issues about his appointment on the ground that he is not biologically from Bayelsa State and I, in furtherance of the openness and open mindedness which we brought to this government and in furtherance of the ideals of the unification of the Ijaw nation which informed our appointment of a commissioner for the first time in this state who is not from Bayelsa State geographically. I also took that decision and I believe that subsequent governments will see the need to make appointments on the basis of merit. Dr Samayain’s appointment showcases the need for us to rally round our people in the Ijaw nation. I do not see why a man who has spent his entire working career serving and taking care of the sick in this state should be stopped from attaining the topmost rank in the public service that he rightly deserves.
Now my dear fellow Bayelsans, these are the underlying principles upon which our restoration agenda is based and we intend to continue.
We are here to rally round our people not just the people of Bayelsa State but to rally round our people wherever they may reside and in making decisions about selecting people for recognition and appointment, we are not going to discriminate. We will only be guided by decisions that will be taken in the interest of our people. That is what we have done and I like all others who are in the public service of our state irrespective of sentiments to feel free to aspire to the highest position. I assure you that you can only be limited by your own self. There are no limitations, if you put in your best, we will recognize and reward as well as encourage you. And that is what we have done in this case.
APPOINTMENT OF THE FIRST LADY AS PERMANENT SECRETARY
In the exercise of my constitutional powers, we are all aware that there has been some talk about appointment of our dear mother who is here with us. I believe it has become clear to everybody especially to people who are from Bayelsa State that not only is she a civil servant, not only has she been a civil servant in this state, she has been for a long time on a directorate level and apart from that she merits this appointment with all the parameters we set out.
As I have explained before now, the constitution gives me as Governor, powers to make appointments and I have exercised that power. By so doing, I have not done anything wrong or illegal.
I have talked about the need for our state to harness all available resources, human and material wherever those resources are, wherever those resources may be and that is why I have taken this decision in our best collective interest so that we can forge ahead and restore this great state to its lost glory, pride and honour in the shortest possible time.
I have talked about the imperative to project and promote the cause of the womenfolk and you all understand that and have seen it through the actions we have taken today.
Let me once again, state that it is important that wives of Governors, Vice Presidents, Presidents and all other spouses whose positions are not recognized by the laws of the Country and are not funded by the Government should be encouraged and supported to pursue and maintain their independent careers. Happily, there are several instances in this country where wives of presidents, governors, national assembly members etc have gained recognition and have been rewarded in their chosen careers.
CHARGE TO THE NEWLY SWORN-IN PERMANENT SECRETARIES
Let me say that my charge to the Permanent Secretaries is to be loyal and work hard as you have always done. In the case of our dear mummy in whom we are well pleased, let me use this occasion to acknowledge your contributions to the development of this great state and your service to Nigeria. We believe that your service to this state as wife of a Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who is now a sitting President, these are no mean feats.
And in doing all of this, not only have you been serving this state, you been serving humanity and Nigeria at large and we want to use this occasion to underscore our appreciation for what you will continue to do by giving support to our leader and elder brother, Mr. President.
Before I end this speech, I have told you what we expect from you as Permanent Secretaries. Let me now say what we don’t expect. What we don’t expect from you all is your involvement in partisan politics. This state cannot afford further divisions. Our government is bent on stopping division between levels of authority. We are interested in building synergy between this state and all other structures. And within this state, we want to provide an umbrella that will galvanise and unify all our people for our united cause for development, security and prosperity. And so my charge to you, is to continue to do your best as you have been doing, but let me say that we do not want to hear that any Permanent Secretary or any highly placed officer in the public service of this state is unnecessarily partisan or is involved in actions that are capable of polarising our people. So on behalf of the government and good people of Bayelsa State, I like to congratulate you all.
Thank you and God bless you all.