Steer clear from any form of corruption or acts that are capable of undermining the integrity of the government, Alex Otti warns as he Swears he New Permanent Secretaries

The New Engine Room for Effective Service Delivery

Being A Speech Delivered By the Governor of Abia State on the Occasion of the Swearing In of Newly Appointed Permanent Secretaries On Tuesday November 7, 2023 At Umuahia.




1. It is with great delight that I welcome everyone to this very important ceremony which further signals our determination to lay a robust foundation for the New Abia of our dreams where every apparatus of government is dedicated to honest and wholehearted service to the people.


2. I want to congratulate the newly appointed permanent secretaries for scaling through what has been a rigorous and painstaking selection process which I personally supervised with senior members of my team to guarantee the credibility of the process, give every director in the state civil service a fair chance at being selected, and cut out much of the historical patterns of abuses and corruption that had assailed the selection of permanent secretaries before now.


3. I am specially indebted to everyone who was involved in the various levels of the selection process for their sense of professionalism, sincere advice and for agreeing with me that this time, things must be done differently.


4. I understand how difficult it can be to convince people that a long-established pattern, however unproductive, should change because naturally, human beings are resistant to change. So, I am privileged to have found a few people who were open to new ideas on how to guarantee superior outcomes, even in traditional processes.


5. Adopting a holistic framework that included well-structured and thoroughly supervised pen-on-paper examinations, oral interviews, evaluation of records of official performances and other detailed processes that offered us the opportunity to understand the aptitude and attitude of those who want to serve as Permanent Secretaries in the present administration, we have been able to select 24 very outstanding individuals from the scores of interested applicants.


6. We may not have selected perfect individuals but I am confident that the choices we have made align strongly with the vision of the new civil service we want to build in the state; one that is rooted in professionalism, reform-oriented and insulated from the distractions of partisanship.


7. In selecting this present team of Permanent Secretaries, the only thing that mattered to us was competence, professionalism and a robust understanding of the place of civil service in driving government policies and programmes successfully.


8. If you look carefully through the list, you will observe that we shall likely be having about the highest number of female permanent secretaries at any point in the history of the state. Additionally, we were blind to the temptations of provincialism and all such parochial considerations that are known to stifle competence while actively promoting mediocrity.


9. In the New Abia which we are progressively building, we are more interested in what you can bring to the table; competence and character for us would always take precedence over place of origin or the religion you profess. As you can see from the men and women we have chosen to function as permanent secretaries in the state, we are very committed to walking the talk.


10. To the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries, may I remind you that to whom much is given, much is equally expected. As I had mentioned, you have not been chosen because you are perfect. You must therefore strive to constantly improve yourself, learning, relearning and unlearning.


11. Ours is a reform-minded administration so you must be prepared to do things differently, in ways that are more productive and guarantee that the civil service would ultimately become the real engine room of effective service delivery. No less would be expected.


12. We expect to see more digitalisation of civil service operations and I encourage you to work with all critical stakeholders in this regard. The State Commissioners for Science and Technology, Digital Economy and my office would drive the process and we expect your full cooperation when the framework is unveiled.


13. My target is that in the next 12 to 24 months, we shall fully migrate to digital platforms for processing and storing official data, retrieving and transferring them securely from place to place as may be needed. To this end, you will be seeing more frequent ICT training and capacity building programmes for civil servants across cadres.


14. My message today is very direct: the civil service in Abia must adopt a new service orientation, one that is cost effective, timely and effective. When the new system becomes fully operational, individuals and businesses would no longer need to travel to Umuahia or even any of the local government headquarters to submit files, process payments or make a complaint. From the comfort of your home in any part of the world, or at any time of the day, you will be able to interact directly with the new civil service we are building.


15. As I conclude, I want to sternly warn this fresh breed of permanent secretaries that no one has been appointed to open new layers of confrontation with the commissioners. You must resist the temptation to see the commissioners in the ministries as your rivals.


16. The state would benefit more when you channel your extensive knowledge of the civil service environment to guide and support them, offer them the necessary cooperation to achieve the mandate of the governor in your respective ministries.


17. We shall not entertain the distractions of pettiness, arrogance or insubordination to duly constituted authorities. You must therefore be properly guided, do your work to the best of your abilities and go home each day, satisfied that you are actively contributing your quota to the building of the New Abia of our dreams.


18. Let me also warn against engaging in any form of corruption or acts that are capable of undermining the integrity of the government. Once we get convincing reports and proofs of anyone’s involvement in any unwholesome practices and acts unbecoming of the high offices you now occupy, we shall be left with no option but to invoke necessary disciplinary measures and sanctions. Do not please make yourself a scapegoat.


19. The statutory entitlements and other privileges that come with your new offices shall be guaranteed so you will have no justifiable reason to engage in unacceptable practices like demanding for kickbacks in cash or kind or exploiting the powers of your office for self-enrichment. Our government has zero tolerance for corruption and anyone caught shall be made to face the music.


20. Abians voted us into office because they want a clear departure from the practices and institutionalised norms that crippled the state for decades. We shall therefore regard anyone who would attempt to take us back to the old ways as an enemy of the people.


21. My office will always be available to offer you every support you need to succeed. You may meet resistance here and there and I expect you will come under pressure from so many individuals and groups who may tempt you to circumvent laid down processes to meet one selfish demand or the other.


22. My charge to you is direct: stand firm, don’t bend and if you develop a reputation for doing what is right over time, people will come to respect you for your conviction. Abia needs people of high integrity and we expect you to be above board in all your dealings. Remember, you must deal fairly and sincerely with all men, for that is your new call.


23. Once again, congratulations to all of you!


24. Thank you for listening and may the light of God Almighty illuminate your path as you begin a new chapter in your civil service career.


Dr Alex C. Otti, OFR.