Who, really, is Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji?
Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji, OON, was born on 13th January, 1959 at Bursari village in Yobe State. He attended the Government College, Maiduguri; Borno College of Basic Studies, Maiduguri and graduated from the University of Maiduguri in 1984.
He began his civil service career in Yobe State where he held several key positions, including Chief Administrative Officer, Governor’s Office, Maiduguri (1989-1991), Principal Secretary to the Military Administrator of Yobe State (1992-1993); and Principal Secretary to the first civilian governor of Yobe State (1992-1993); and Principal Secratary to the second military Administrator of the State (1993-1995).
In year 2000, he was appointed into the Federal Civil Service and served as the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics (PRS) at the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs in 1995 and was later posted to the Federal Ministry of Defence in the year 2000 as Director, Personnel Management. He also headed various Departments in the Ministry of Defence until his posting to the Office of the Secretary to the Government in 2008 as the Director, International Organisations.
At his swearing-in-ceremony, President Goodluck Jonathan noted that the civil service was central to the realisation of his administration’s Transformation Agenda and charged him to “focus on those sectors that will help the administration to deliver with urgency, the beliefs and benefits which are the core of our survival as a people such as agriculture, infrastructure, education, health etc.” Mr President also tasked the new Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to “pursue with vigour the true implementation of the performance management system in the civil service...which its full implementation will positively improve the ability of civil servants to discharge their responsibilities...to enhance discipline and curtail corruption in the service.”
Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji is a humble and self-effacing man who prefers to give all the credit for his achievement to others. However, beneath that humble mien lies a steely determination, uncommon courage and fiery patriotism. We managed to drag some things out of him:
“When I came 15 months ago, I promised to fast-track processes. I didn’t really do anything new. I only accelerated things that other people has designed.”
“I felt that it was important the Service should have institutional memory. I therefore decided to completely revamp the Federal Records Centre in Karu.”
“With the take-off of PTAD, I no longer have pensioners with placards sleeping outside my office.”
“We managed to achieve 100% release from the Budget Office of the Federation for the Federal Government Staff Housing Loan Board. This gives soft loans at 2% interest and has attracted more than 100,000 applications for the 5 estates that we have commissioned.”
“I am pleased that we were able to convince the President to approve 30 forty-two-seater buses for staff. I am particularly proud that the buses are made in Nigeria.”
“There was a lot of opposition to the policy to domesticate training in Nigeria. However, as a result of the policy, the money provided for training now goes much further than it did in the past and can now train more people.”
“Early in my career, I started working with politicians. This gave me the ability to balance the fact that politicians instant results in order to fulfil their campaign promises and civil servants look at extant rules and regulations and tell the politicians to ‘wait’, to the politicians’ discomfiture.”
“I seem to be fortunate to be able to read the body language of political leaders correctly. This makes it easier for me to relate well them. That way, I get a lot of things done without friction and suspicion.”
“My biggest challenges were as follows: Mobilisation and advocacy to tell the public service that a lot is expected of us; Incessant demands and requests from government; The current size of the civil service, which we cannot currently do anything about, given the unemployment situation in the country at the moment.”
“We must aggressively pursue the professionalisation of the Service and bring the psyche of public servants in tune with current national and international realities. The past is the past. We must face the future with courage, professionalism and patriotism.”
For a copy of the book 'THE CHALLENGES OF TRANSFORMING THE CIVIL SERVICE', click BPSR official website for information.