By ANDREW OJIEZEL
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) has expressed dismay over the doublespeak of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOS), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, in respect of the illegal extension of tenure of former Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Jamila Shu’ara.
In a Press Statement issued in Lagos yesterday, the ASCSN National President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, and the Secretary-General, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal, regretted that Mrs. Oyo-Ita, who had earlier advised the Presidency not to extend the tenure of Mrs. Shu’ara because it violated Public Service Rules, had turned 100 degree now canvassing that President Muhammadu Buhari had legal rights to extent the tenure of Permanent Secretaries since he appointed them.
“This is very unfortunate because Oyo-Ita who has in written documents described herself as “conscience of the Public Service” because of her position as the HOS and has insisted that the tenure of Permanent Secretaries cannot be extended is now singing a different song telling the public that Mr. President can operate outside the Public Service Rules.
“What we expect the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to do is to stick to her position that the extension of tenure of Mrs. Shu’ara is a breach of Section 020810 (i & ii) and 020402 (i) (d) of the Public Service Rules and as such should be reversed.
“We also agree with her earlier position that if Mrs. Shu’ara possesses special competencies as provided for in Section 020402 (i) (d) of the Public Service Rules, the Presidency should appoint her as Special Adviser to Mr. President, a view this Union has continued to canvass,” the ASCSN emphasized.
Section 020810 (i) of the Public Service Rules stipulates that: “The compulsory retirement age for all grades in the service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier” while subsection (ii) adds that: “No officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier.”
According to the ASCSN chieftains, the HOS could not claim to have been cowed by the cabal that is holding the Government to ransom because given her exalted office she should be able to stand by the truth and damn the consequence.
They contended that by succumbing to the pressure exerted on her by those who were bent on rubbishing the integrity of President Buhari, she had joined the league of Public Servants who were incapable of protecting the cherished norms and values of the Public Service.
The Union posited that the Government was using the extension of tenure of Mrs. Shu’ara to test the ground and once that was allowed to stay, it would become the norm.
“The danger in all this is that this culture of impunity if not checked, will ultimately destroy the Public Service. This is not in the best interest of the nation.
“We, therefore, commend the House of Representatives for its stand that the tenure of Mrs. Shu’ara should not be extended again and that the salary she collected from 17th February 2016 to date should be refunded to public coffers. We want to assure you that the Trade Union movement and the Nigerian people are solidly behind you on this war against impunity,” the ASCSN emphasized.
The Union leaders enjoined the Government to realize that the International Community was watching its activities and as such it should strive to conform to International best practices in its policies instead of making the country a laughing stock before the civilized world.