…..Based on my recollections and introspection as a retired federal career civil servant
First and foremost the answer to that question is ingrained in the quality and the caliber of our leadership and followership in the Federal Civil Service which I had the honor to serve for 25 years of my prime.
The second is our value system as a people and how pervasive corruption and selfishness, tribalism and the quest for material wealth have gotten the better part of us as a people and how immorality and dishonesty and lack of moral principles and integrity have taken a front seat in our order of priorities
It reveals how our love of a country has been replaced by widespread Tribalism and ethnic rivalries to a point that the Arewa group in the North, the Ndigbo and the Yoruba group-the 3 major or dominant groups are now seriously contemplating a break up of the country because we no longer believe or trust one another like we used to in the first few years of our existence as a sovereign state from October 1st, 1960.
General Insecurity and Kidnappings, abject Poverty and Starvation have more or less turned Nigeria into a nation of beggars as the Federal Civil Service, the Pride of the Nation has become an effigy of itself based on my observations as an insider.
I look back on my 25 years career in the Service, and I still remember as if it were yesterday all of the Ministries in which I had served and the supervisors under whom I had served from one posting to another and how those supervisors have shaped my life and have made me the person I later became.
The great Ahmed Joda my beloved Permanent Secretary for 4 years in Education had taught me that the draft of minutes of the National Council on Education of which I was Secretary had to be ready for him to edit or proof-read within 24 hours to the end of the meeting.
I thought he was a slave driver driving me crazy at the time not knowing the little man was preparing me to be the best I could be in any position I find myself. Writing minutes of meetings upon my arrival in America had become a cakewalk for me in few positions of authority I have held in my life journey.
I owe everything to Ahmed Joda who just kissed the World goodbye at 87 as one of the best public servants of his era to come from the North.
I tried to compare the Espirit de Corp and the Value System which existed in the Service at that time with what exists today and I found a yawning gap between th two.
Gone were those days when there was Order and discipline in the Service and respect for Constituted Authority and respect for Financial Regulations and General Orders in the Civil Service.
In those days any unspent allocations in the approved Budget of a Ministry or Parastatals are promptly returned back to the Treasury.
They are not put aside to be shared by few top Civil Servants who are placed in charge to disburse the funds.
Funds set aside for Pensions and Gratuities for retirees are not looted like they are now by few people placed in charge while the retirees go empty- handed or are disqualified from collecting their pensions because they have to show their faces once in a year or two before their payments are put on hold or looted by the few officers in charge.
My own Pensions were paid for a little while to the Heritage Bank which keeps changing its name a million times.
It’s original name was Owena Bank. Then it became Spring Bank and only God knows what it is called now, but all I know is that I am still alive and well and closer to 80 years today and would have died out of Penury If I had never checked out of Nigeria to start a new life and career with the New York State Public Service in America where the only source of living I depend on today for survival is my meager pensions from God’s own country.
Stealing Government money during my tenure in the Federal Service was a rarity but today everyone does it. You are considered a loony In Nigeria today if you see Government money and you walk away from it.
The Nigerian Federal Public Service could care less whether Federal Pensioner lives or dies once they retire. They, in fact, expect Pensioners to die quick so the thieves could make away with their pensions and gratuities.
General Buhari who had spent 30 years waiting to metamorphose from a Military head of State from 1983 to 1985 to a Civilian Head of State, had gotten his wish but it was under his “Go slow and derelict” Administration that Nigeria has sunk into oblivion where most of the state governments now owe up to 3 to 4 years of Arrears of Salaries and Pensions to workers all over the country.
Things began to fall apart in bits and pieces for Nigeria when we Replaced Foreign Tyranny with Native Tyranny on our attainment of Independence on October 1st 1960 when Mr. Hawkesworth was Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission from 1960 to 1968 and Dr. Sir Manuel Manuwa was his number 2 and Alhaji Sule Katagun was his number 3 in the Federal Civil Service Commission.
From 1968 to 1974 Alhaji Sule Katagun, a northerner was moved from number 3 to Chairman due to his region of origin, while Sir Manuwa as the first Medical doctor in Nigeria was kept as his number 2 out of 8 members under the Yakubu Gowon Administration which came into power from July 29, 1966 and both of them had remained number 1 and number 2 for much of the Gowon’s era as Head of State.
Alhaji Sule Katagun was Chairman and Sir. Manuwa his Deputy at the Federal Civil Service Commission from 1968 to 1975 when Professor Ogar finally took over as Chairman.
There was still order and stability in the Federal Civil Service as I recall. I can attest to that order and stability using my self as an example.
My first posting as an Administrator was to the Ministry of Defense and Defense Headquarters at the old Republican Building along Marina
I was the Assistant Secretary In charge of Army and my direct supervisor was one Mr. S. A. Ogunleye, a Senior Assistant Secretary and a sound Economist who ended up becoming the Director of African Development Bank in Addis Ababa Ethiopia many years later.
He was a good man and a very hard working guy who taught me all I knew as a JJC in the Public Service recruited from the great Igbobi College Yaba where I was a lecturer under Revd. Olatubosun as Principal and Pa Talabi Esubiyi as his Vice Principal and Egbon Olowu as senior tutor.
I was also the Secretary to the Recruitment Panel for Commissioned officers of the Nigerian Army with late Colonel Murtala Mohammed as my Chairman. Alhaji Damcida was our first Permanent Secretary before he was replaced by a dapper Don Ilorin lawyer named Yusuf Gobir and his DPS in Mr. B. G. Popo from Warri.
That was years before Murtala Mohammed was picked to succeed General Yakubu Gowon following the 1975 Coup which brought himself and Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo to power replacing Commodore Gowon and Commodore Wey.
I served in defense till from 1968 to 1971 when I got posted to Education under the direct supervision of late Alhaji Muhammadu Mayo, a Principal Executive Officer from Sardauna Province before I ended up with late Adeniyi Coker, a lawyer who was another hard working gentleman who drove himself twice as hard as he drove me as his subordinate.
We all served under the great Ahmed Joda from a little village called Girei in Adamawa State and his Deputy Permanent Secretary S. O. Soyode while Chief S. O. Awokoya was Chief Federal Adviser on Education.
It was a phase in Nigeria when Nigeria was the greatest force for good in the African Continent, as I recall.
I got posted from Education to the Ministry of Establishments first under Grey Erunmosele Longe as Permanent Secretary and later on under Francesca Yetunde Emmanuel as Permanent Secretary and Gambo Gubio from Maiduguri as her Deputy.
I was sent to relieve Mr. Ugbade as Director of Pensions before my posting to the
Udoji Salary Review Commission under one Mr. M. A. Soneye from Ijebu Ode, a workaholic brilliant man who later became a lawyer. It was the same Pensions Department I once headed that had illegally suspended my pensions because all they wanted to see was my Death Certificate.
President Tinubu has his job cut out for him in doing something about the pitiful State of the Nigerian Pensions Department in Abuja which has sent many Nigerian pensioners to their grave before their time.
I plan to be leading the effort to make President Tinubu appreciate that his Government will be derelict and wicked to turn a blind eye to the point I am raising here.
The observation would remain a permanent blemish on his Government if he fails to address the problem in a timely fashion in the aftermath of this write up which I plan to forward to him.
I was posted from the Pensions Department to Staff Development to relief one Mr. Asielue from Ubunokiti as Secretary Staff Development / Secretary Manpower Department with Chief Samuel Oluyemi Falae as my PS and before his appointment as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Merchant Bank .
It was while serving in that Capacity that I was privileged to serve for 3 years as the Distinguished Delegate of Nigeria to CAFRAD ( African Training and Research Center In Administration for Development based in Morocco while Ambassador Sanusi the senior brother of Emir Lamido Sanusi was the ambassador of Nigeria to the Kingdom of Morocco.
I then served briefly as SAS in the Federal Ministry of Health under the famous Idaiken of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo who took over the Benin Throne from his father Oba Akenzua in 1979 to become Oba Erediauwa of Benin.
I served briefly under him before being posted to the Ministry of Economic Planning and Reconstruction where I served under Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji the Prince of the Sokoto Caliphate before his posting to the Ministry of Finance to be replaced in Economic Planning by PS Ogbuefi Gilbert Chikelu.
This narrative has given me an eye board view of the Federal Civil Service and why I am able to compare it to the sham we call the Federal Civil Service of today.
I was privileged to Serve as Secretary to two important Panels or Task Forces.
The first Panel in 1974 set up by General Yakubu Gowon on Student Financing In Nigeria was chaired by the great Pa Obafemi Awolowo as Federal Commissioner for Finance and Deputy Chairman of the Federal Executive Council .
Among the distinguished members of the Panel were Alhaji Shehu Shagari who later became Head of State from 1979 to 1983 and Shettima Ali Monguno as Federal Commissioner for Trade and Chief Wenike Briggs as Federal Commissioner for Education.
My closeness to those distinguished Nigerians have given me a different perspective of the Federal Civil Service and the role and the functions of the Federal Ministry of Finance under Alhaji Abdul Azeez Attah as Permanent Secretary and Alhaji Aminu Saleh as his Deputy.
It was an opportunity of a lifetime that money could not buy. I was just lucky to be picked by the Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office in late Festus Adedinsewo Adesanoye who later became the great Osemawe Osungbedenola of Ondo who also became one of my mentors and Destiny Empowerers long after he had retired from the Service to be crowned the Osemawe and the powerful Executive Chairman of Strabag Nigerian PLC a rival Construction Company to the famous Julius Berger Nigeria PLC.
I was also privileged to serve as Secretary to the the Special Panel headed by Chief Olu Falae as Director of Central Planning in the Federal Ministry of Economic Planning for the re- appraisal of the Public Service following the dislocations and the problems caused by the Udoji Salary Review Commission.
I was picked because I have earlier on served as a Job analyst trained at the Journal Building at Ottawa, Canada and I had briefly served under Mr. M A. Soneye of the Udoji Salary Review Commission.
Mr. Soneye who later became the pioneer Director General of the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria ASCON based in Badagry was one of the most hardworking officers I have ever met in the Federal Service.
The Nigerian Federal Civil Service I speak about in this write up was the cynosure of all eyes during my time. Not any more!!
If you compare what is going on in the Federal Civil Service out there today in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, you cannot help but shed tears for Nigeria like I frequently do but I think tears alone will not solve the problem.
Like President Tinubu has said what we all need is a change of mindset and values by the Leadership and the followership to make Nigeria a better place for all of us.
Together, we all can do it, if we all address our minds to it.
I rest my case.