Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari yesterday removed the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi and replaced him with Mrs Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, current Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology.
She is 51 years old. Mr Kifasi was due to retire on January, 1, 2016 when he will clock 60.
His last day would have been December 31, 2015. He would have proceeded on three months pre-retirement leave since the beginning of October, if he were to observe his terminal leave.
Though details of the development were sketchy at press time, The Guardian was told by competent sources last night that the new Head of Service, a chartered accountant, who hails from Cross River State, is to be there in an acting capacity, though the office does not require Senate approval but a direct presidential appointment.
This development came last night even as sources hinted that the president might consider retiring all permanent secretaries that have spent more than four years considered to be the end of the first tenure. Permanent Secretaries are entitled to two terms of eight years only under the tenure regime the Umaru Yar’Adua administration put in place in 2009.
Signs of Trouble
A source in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) told The Guardian that Kifasi has been a regular visitor to the office but yesterday’s visit was different in all respects, as it was quite unusual.
“He came to see the SGF as early as 8.00 a.m and we all wondered what brought him so early. He looked really worried. He went into the SGF’s office immediately for a private discussion.
Two Permanent Secretaries and about three Directors also came in , but they all left as quickly as they got in, having obviously been told that they were not needed.
“After about 20 minutes or so of private discussion with the SGF, Kifasi left. It was obvious something was amiss, but we could not confirm what it was”, The Guardian was told.
The Guardian confirmed that Kifasi, a chartered accountant and lawyer has not really been in the good books of the Presidency, but was allowed to tarry on because he is due to retire in December .
That was before something else came up, bordering on loyalty and ethics, backed up with documented evidence. With this the Presidency could not tolerate him any longer.
Another source attributed the change of guard at the HOS to imperative for political balance, given that the SGF Mr.Babachir Lawal who hails from Adamawa is from the same geopolitical zone as Kifasi who comes from Taraba State.
It was gathered last night that Oyo-Ita Ekanem will take over from Kifasi today.
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Oyo-Ita Ekanem hails from Adiabo community of Odukpani Local Council of Cross Rivers State, was born in April 1964, educated at the Queens College Yaba, graduated at the University of Lagos in 1984 with B.Sc Accounting and holds a Master’s degree from the Nasarawa State University
She was Director, Finance and Accounts at the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Before her appointment as the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in April 2014, Oyo-Ita was Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs