Not less than four intending Permanent Secretaries in Ebonyi State facing oral interviews on Tuesday failed to properly recite the National Anthem and the names of Nigeria’s 36 states and their capitals.
Governor David Umahi had some weeks ago directed that examination be conducted for civil servants from grade levels 14 and above to be considered for appointment to the position of Permanent Secretaries.
Those who were successful in the written examination were on Tuesday invited for oral interview at the Executive Council Chambers during a meeting presided by Umahi.
Umahi, before the commencement of the screening, explained that two successful civil servants each from the 13 local government areas of the state would ultimately be selected for the appointment, including the three already serving as Permanent Secretaries.
Umahi noted further that the appointment of the new Permanent Secretaries would be based on their performance in the screening, adding that his administration is poised to reforming the civil service and civil servants in the state.
Umahi said: “I want to select the intelligent ones that will help and assist us to reform the civil service because we want to reposition every aspect of civil service.
“An oral interview will be conducted and only the intelligent ones would be successful.
“There will be no favouritism.
“If you pass, you pass.”
Umahi, however, stressed that his government would reduce salaries of both the successful Permanent Secretaries and the retired ones, saying: “They cannot earn the same salaries with the governor and the deputy governor based on the lean allocation to the state.
The intending Permanent Secretaries interviewed were about 40.
They were given 42 questions to answer five each, and were expected to score 60 per cent and above to qualify.
A particular candidate said the capital of Kwara State is Kwara and that the capital of Lagos is Lagos, while another said the Anambra State capital is Anambra.
An amused Umahi jokingly told one of the interviewees to ask her children at home to teach her how to recite the states and their capitals.
Recall that Ebonyi State since the inception of Umahi’s administration has been without Permanent Secretaries.
This has triggered criticism from civil servants and opposition parties against the administration.
The State’s Deputy Governor, Kelechi Igwe, was the chairman of the screening panel.