Members of the House of Representatives have frowned at the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the tenure of a retired Permanent Secretary.
The Nigerian House of Representatives
The House of Representatives on Tuesday accused President Muhammadu Buhari of flouting the constitution following his approval for the extension of the tenure of a retired Permanent Secretary’s.
The lawmakers said this when the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Ms. Winifred Oyo-Ita, appeared before the house committee and disclosed that the Presidency has further extended the tenure of a retired Permanent Secretary, Dr. Jamila Shu’ara for another year (till 2018).
The committee had summoned the HOS after discovering that the alleged extension of service, which was for one year, expired on February 17, 2017.
The HOS, who appeared before the committee, disclosed that the additional one year extension was conveyed to her office in a letter by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
Oyo-Ita added that the letter dated March 7, notified her that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of Dr. Shu’ara for an additional one year following the expiration of the first tenure granted her in February.
Dr. Shu’ara had retired from the civil service as permanent secretary in the ministry of education in 2016, having attained the mandatory age limit and year of service before an extension was granted her to remain in service.
Oyo-Ita, while quoting portions of Abba Kyari’s letter, said that the “extension is anchored on Section 171 (2) of the amended 1999 Constitution and is based on special considerations and shouldn’t be cited as policy.”
But the lawmakers condemned the extension and agreed that the development was against civil service rules and procedures.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Zakari Mohammed had informed members that the request for extension of service for the retired public official emanated from the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu.
The HOS in her bid to calm nerves asserted that the power to appoint any permanent secretary is solely vested on the president.
Zakari, however, interjected, declaring that “no part of the constitution gives powers to extend tenure of a permanent secretary.”
Many groups and activists have condemned the tenure extension.
In its reaction, Trade Union Congress, TUC, wrote a protest letter to then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Its President, Bala Kaigama, said the letter was sent on March 2 , 2017 and vowed that affiliate unions of the TUC would occupy the ministry if Shu’ara continued in office.
Kaigama described the extension of the tenure of Shu’ara as an abnormality not backed by any civil service regulation in the country.
He said: “We have already protested to the Acting President and we have written a protest letter after her tenure expired. If nothing is done, we will occupy the Ministry of Education until the woman leaves.
“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.
“We want to strongly believe that the protest we have made will be heeded. If not, we will ultimately occupy that ministry.
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.
Shu’ara, in her notice of retirement , dated February 15 , 2016 and addressed to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation commended the Federal Government and the President for the opportunity to serve.
“I wish to confirm that I am not in any way indebted to the Federal Government of Nigeria as evidenced in the non -indebtedness form duly endorsed by the Federal Housing Loans Board”, she wrote.
But in the letter conveying the extension of her tenure, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Shu’ara was told that her emoluments and other conditions of service would be sustained till February 17 , 2017 .
The letter entitled: “Extension of retirement period”, with ref . No: HCSF / 351/ S. 1 / 76, dated February 24 , 2016, was signed by Oyo-Ita.
“This is to inform you that His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR , President , Federal Republic of Nigeria , in a letter with Ref . No . SGF . 12 / S. 11 /C . 1 / T /2, has extended your retirement period by one (1 ) year with effect from February 17 , 2016.
“Your emoluments and other conditions of service will remain sustained up to February 16 , 2017.”