By Dwelleth Morountodun
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, and her counterparts in Bank of Agriculture and Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN) have urged civil servants and prospective retirees to embrace agriculture so as to enable them live a meaningful life after service.
Dr. Yemi-Esan made the call, at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the implementation of federal public service entrepreneurship programme between the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN) and the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), during the week in Abuja.
According to her, the mistake civil servants have made over the years was inadequate preparation and planning before retirement.
“The only profession/business that is allowed by the Constitution which civil servants can venture into, even while in service is the agricultural business.
“So, we thought that is the best way to go because agricultural business has a very wide value chain’’ she added.
“The welfare of civil servants is the key objective of the federal civil service strategy and implementation plan.
“Initially, the programme was designed to see to the welfare of officers who are about to retire.
“When we had an initial meeting, I said it is too late to start planning for retirement just before retirement. We have lost it completely.
“That is the mistake we have made over the years in the civil service, we waited until three months or six months before retirement, before we start pre-retirement training for prospective retirees.
“At this time, it is already too late. We therefore think it is better to start planning for retirement early.’
She stressed the need for workers to take advantage of the programme early, so that when they are about to retire, they would have been fully established in agriculture.
She also charged the project implementation and project steering committees to dutifully perform their responsibility and ensure sustainability of the project.
In his own speech, the Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, Mr. Alwan Ali Hassan, assured that the bank would provide loans and ensure all necessary assistance is given to facilitate its disbursement to serving civil servants and retirees to enable them participate actively in agricultural production.
He added that the loan facilities would be given to beneficiaries at single digit interest rate while their offices would stand as surety, adding that retirees are expected to provide guarantors to access the loans.
The Administrator/Chief Executive Officer of the Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN), Dr. AbdulGaniyu Obatoyinbo, assured that the Institute will make land available for practical demonstration of farming.
In her opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, said the Federal Public Service Entrepreneurship Programme comprises two schemes: agripreneurship start-up scheme for serving officers and pre-retirement training and business start-up scheme for prospective retirees.
Dr. Ngige said beneficiaries would have access to loan scheme for agribusiness which will be managed by Bank of Agriculture (BoA), while other business enterprises would be managed by Bank of Industry (BoI).
She added that the established Federal Public Service Farm is part of measures to ensure the sustainability of the Public Service Entrepreneurship Programme.