Uproar in Abuja as President Buhari asks ‘retired’ 61-year old to stay on as permanent secretary

– Crisis is looming in the federal civil service in Nigeria

– This is due to the extension of the tenure of the permanent secretary, ministry of education, Dr Jamila Shu’ara

– The action was carried out by President Muhammadu Buhari

A report by The Punch indicates that crisis is looming in the federal civil service in Nigeria due to the extension of the tenure of the permanent secretary, ministry of education, Dr Jamila Shu’ara by President Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari

Already, the Trade Union Congress has written a letter to Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo to protest the extension of Shu’ara’s tenure.

According to the TUC president, Mr Bala Kaigama, the letter was sent to the Acting President on Thursday, March 2, adding that affiliate unions of the TUC would occupy the ministry if Shu’ara failed to leave.

The House of Representatives’ committee on basic education, had on Wednesday, March 1 summoned the Head of Service of the Federation, Ms Winifred Oyo-Ita, to explain why Shu’ara was still in service.

Shu’ara, 61, is still in service in breach of civil service rules. Under the existing provisions, an officer retires from service after serving for 35 years or attaining the age of 60 years, whichever comes first.

During her first meeting with the House committee, chaired by Honourable Zakari Mohammed from Kwara state, the permanent secretary had claimed that her service was extended by the Presidency.

However, the committee later discovered that the alleged extension of service, which was for one year, had expired on February 17.

The committee had directed her to appear on Wednesday with proof of the presidential extension, but Shu’ara failed to show up.

She was scheduled to appear alongside the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu, and Oyo-Ita, but none of the officials honoured the invitation.

The committee members later reviewed the absence of the officials and summoned Oyo-Ita and Shu’ara to appear without fail on Thursday, March 9.

A source in the presidency quoted in the report, confirmed that Shu’ara had the approval of President Buhari to remain in service.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Shu’ara was in possession of a written approval from Buhari on the matter.

The source said, “The truth of the matter is that President Buhari approved that she should remain in the service.

“As a matter of fact, she is not the only person in that category.

“In her own case, immediately she was deployed to the ministry of education, she presented her papers, saying she would soon retire. It was at that point that it was suggested that she should stay back.

“The truth is that she is one of the best permanent secretaries we have in this country and we cannot afford to lose her wealth of experience now. It is no secret; she has the president’s approval.”

But Kaigama described the extension of the tenure of Shu’ara as an abnormality not backed by any civil service regulation in the country.

He noted that if an official was found to be indispensable, the most the government could do was to engage the person through contract employment and not tenure extension.

He said: “It has not happened before. If that person is indispensable, you put that person in contract employment. But to say you are extending somebody’s service after retirement is never heard of.”

Shu’ara, who was last year, the permanent secretary, federal ministry of petroleum, according to the Public Service Rules number 100238, retired on February 17, 2016, after attaining the age of 60.

Reacting to the issue, the national publicity secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, condemned tenure extension in service.

He stated that “These nefarious acts impact negatively on our system as those who have passed their productive years continue to create roadblocks at the top and obstructing traffic flow for the generations coming behind.

“Beyond that is the fact that these people are not holding on for public good but their private interests.”

Meanwhile, the federal government on Friday, March 3 redeployed two federal permanent secretaries to the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development and environment respectively.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo approved the redeployment in a statement signed by Mr Haruna Imrana, director communications Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

He said that Dr Shehu Ahmed, who was formerly the permanent secretary for agriculture and rural development, has been redeployed to ministry of environment.

He also said that Dr Bukar Hassan, who was formerly the permanent secretary for the ministry of environment, is now in the ministry of agriculture and rural development.

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