The hierarchy of the Federal bureaucracy that President Muhammadu Buhari once vouched could assist him in running the country without the need to appoint ‘noisemaker’ Ministers is on collision course with the government over the extension of the tenure of the Secretary of Education, Dr. Jamila Shu’ara, twice.
Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the tenure of the Permanent Secretary for another one year.
Coming a year after Sha’ara was granted an extension when her tenure expired in February 2016, when she became 60, the extension is creating ripples in the service.
No real explanation or written approval has been given for the current extension except that the President has approved it in principle.
Shu’ara on her own had tendered her resignation last year when she attained the retirement age of 60 or done the mandatory 35 years in service according to the extant rule of public service.
When there was a shake-up in the service a year ago, affecting 33 permanent secretaries, 11 of who were retired and while the others were redeployed, Shu’ara was spared.
She had however willingly tendered her resignation then but she still had three months to the end of her tenure.
Even so, the extension by one year did not go down well with labour unions and her colleagues when the President extended her tenure and had her redeployed from the Petroleum Ministry to that of Education to succeed Folashade Eson.
The ripples caused by last years extension were yet to die down, when a disturbed service was faced with another extension for her this year, leaving her colleagues at a loss as to what is happening to the rule governing appointments and retirement in the service
All these came to the fore when the House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education was investigating Shu’ara over how she remained in service, despite having attained the mandatory 60 years age of retirement in 2016.
The Committee had demanded to see the Presidential approval and asked her to appear before it for some explanation.
She neither appeared nor was the Minister, Adamu, forthcoming with a legitimate explanation except that he informed the Chief of Staff to the President who told him that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita had given a verbal approval in principle.
But when Oyo-Ita appeared before the Committee last week, she said she did not have such a letter, but promised to produce it on her return on Thursday.
The only official approval of Shu’ara’s extension is for last year, a February 24, 2016 letter signed by Oyo-Ita. In the letter, HCSF/351/S.1/76, Oyo-Ita said:
“This is to inform you that His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, in a letter with reference N0. SGF 12/S.11/C.1/T/2, has extended your retirement period by one (1) year with effect from February 17.
“Your emoluments and other conditions of service will remain sustained up to February 16, 2017.”
There is yet to be any such official approval this year for Shu’ara.
According to ‘the Public Service Rule Number 020810’, Adamu and Shu’ara are abusing their powers.
The rule says: “(i) The compulsory retirement age for all grades in the service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier.
i) 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.
“(iii) The provision of (i) and (ii) of the rule is without prejudice to prevailing requirements for judicial officers and Academic Staff of Universities who retire at 70 and 65 years respectively.
“(iv) Provided the officer would not have attained the retirement age of 60 years or spent 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier;
(a) “a Director shall compulsorily retire upon serving eight years on the post and (b) a Permanent Secretary shall hold office for a term of four years and renewable for a further term of four years, subject to satisfactory performance and no more.”