Folashade Yemi-Esan: Head of Civil Service of the Federation

Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan is head of civil service of the federation, effective February 2020. Since her coming to office, she has focused on elevating the standard of the nation’s civil service by putting in place a system that will ensure that only the best hands get into the civil service.

She has so far matched her words with action to change the age old practice where the civil service wears the image of a welfare institution and a dumping ground of all manner of people in a bid to mitigate unemployment.

Yemi-Esan is determined to realise the central objective of the public service reform, which is to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the civil service in order to promote economic and social development.

She has taken it upon herself to put in place a strict system designed to attract and retain qualified personnel into the civil service. According to her, the service needed the new system to purge itself of incompetent hands.

She quickly spearheaded a reform programme in the service on assumption of duty named the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan (FCSSIP) 2017-2020. The programme addressed economic, social and environmental sustainability issues and was derived from the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and also consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals.

In her assessment of the accomplishments under the plan, it was a game changer in public service administration because of great successes recorded. “The impact has been so tremendous that efforts are ongoing to prepare a successor plan (2021-2025),” she said.

The strategy is to align the successor plan with the Medium-Term Development Plan and Agenda 2050 of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The post COVID-19 economy has placed a new demand on the public service with respect to the adoption and implementation of the federal government’s e-government master plan. The target is to promote the development of infrastructures, digitalise government processes and documentation, create online platforms for efficiency and transparency and use the new media to provide information to the citizens.

An empowered civil service is key to these accomplishments and Yemi-Esan is desirous to build in the needed capacity through the implementation of desirable administrative reform measures.

She therefore took expedient steps to accelerate the digitalisation of processes to enable the civil service function effectively as the backbone of government under the changed operating environment. Her office initiated a number of measures to this effect, including building mechanisms for remote work deliveries, platforms for community engagement and public feedback and a new policy on virtual engagements for the protection of workers.

Other accomplishments include promoting new values, education, innovation and productivity in the public service and ensuring the effectiveness of the social insurance system.

Her office responded to the need for seamless running of the business of governance through its key reform initiative – Enterprise Content Management solution. The reform has gone a long way in digitising the federal civil service records, automating workflow to ensure a departure from manual processes and facilitating storage and retrieval of records. It has also improved information sharing and synergy across MDAs, improved service delivery as well as reduce cost of governance.

Yemi-Esan is keen to ensure that reform implementation, which has been the bane of past reforms, is properly handled this time around. Adequate human capacity is identified as a key requirement in respect of which she has embarked upon an extensive human capacity building.

She has put in place a robust training programme for staff, which is being reinforced through the development of a virtual platform to fast track the training of a backlog of officers.

Another major landmark attained under Yemi-Esan is the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform under which all staff in the core ministries have been verified and enrolled. This means self-service components, which core staff can utilize to generate pays lips and apply for leave, etc. has been enabled.

She assures that on full deployment of the human resources module of IPPIS, human errors would be minimized through streamlined data, cost reduced due to data accuracy and financial and manpower resources efficiently utilized and planned for. In addition, data on federal public service employees will be secure and only accessible to authorized officers, she said. 

Yemi-Esan attended the University of Ibadan and graduated as the best dental surgeon in 1987. She later obtained a post graduate certificate in health planning and management and proceeded to earn a master’s degree in public and international administration.

She served as the Information Attach’e in the Nigeria Information Service Centre, Embassy of Nigeria, Abijdan, Cote d’ Ivoire from 1992 to 1995.  She later joined the Federal Ministry of Health where she rose in ranks to become a director. 

While serving in the health ministry, she was assigned as liaison officer West Africa Health Organisation, coordinator of oral health in schools programme and director of health planning research and statistics.

In 2012, she was promoted to the position of permanent secretary, Service Policy and Strategy, in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. From 2012 to 2014, she was director of information in the State House. Before her latest appointment, she was the permanent secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources.