…HoS Oyo-Ita gives contradictory recommendations to Buhari
…Chief of Staff queries Oyo- Ita over trio
…Perm secs idling away at home without indictment
In what can be described as unprecedented, the Federal Government is yet to deploy three permanent secretaries since November 2015 when their postings were put on hold without any valid reasons.
The situation is contrary to the change mantra of the President Muhammadu Buhari- led administration that thrives on rule law while the affected permanent secretaries are idling without cogent reasons.
The three permanent secretaries: Mrs. Fatima Bamidele (Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs), Mrs. Nkechi Ejele (Ministry of Culture and National Orientation) and Mrs. Ibukun Odusote (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) have been staying at home since 2015 and receiving salaries without offering services to the country, thanks to contradictory recommendations of the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita to Buhari.
The contentious issues began in November 2015 when Buhari- led Federal Government with its change agenda embarked on restructuring of permanent secretaries.
The development led to the retirement of 17 permanent secretaries while 18 new ones were appointed, 16 from serving directors, two from private sector, leading to total 35 permanent secretaries.
But in the process, the three permanent secretaries- Bamidele, Ejele and Odusote, were not deployed on the grounds that they were under investigation.
These issues were contained in two contradictory letters by Oyo-Ita dated February 16, 2016 and March 17, 2017 and addressed to President Buhari.
In the letter dated February 16, 2017, the HoS informed the President that the allegations against Bamidele, Ejele and Odusote were baseless, saying no prima facie case had been established against them.
She however introduced another dimension when she informed the President that though there were no issues against the three permanent secretaries, their places had been filled by another set of permanent secretaries from their states.
The HoS further compounded the issues when she stated that the only option available to the Federal Government was to approve their retirement from service even though they are yet to attain retirement age.
In what can be described as final action to seal the fate of the three permanent secretaries, Oyo-Ita informed the President that, “ Note that it would be difficult for me to recommend their reinstatement because their positions have been filled by the appointments of new permanent secretaries from their states.
“Furthermore, their reinstatement would defeat Government’s policy of a lean service.
“Finally, states that do not have permanent secretaries from their indigenes would complain such an action.”
She then urged the President to take the ultimate action without any justification- “Approve the retirement of Mrs. Fatima Binta Bamidele, Mrs. Ibukun Abimbola Odusote and Mrs. Nkechi Ejele in the public interest”,
But her recommendations did not go down well with the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
Abba Kyari later queried Oyo-Ita in a letter dated April 25, 2016 with reference No SH/COS/ 100/A/ 1437, asking her to provide basis for her recommendations.
The letter reads in part: “From your submissions, it would appear that the three officers all of whom have been exonerated by the Investigation Committee are yet to meet the criteria for retirement either on length of service, age, or even the tenure principle.
None of them would also seem to have fallen under approved criteria used in respect of their erstwhile colleagues.
“You may therefore wish to provide basis for your recommendation for their retirement “in public interest” other than your explanations in para 5 and 6 of your letter under reference”
But the HoS later wrote another letter dated March 17, 2017 to Buhari with reference number HCSF/911/ S.I/7/205 and tilled- Re: Memorandum on Composition of Federal Permanent Secretaries for the Restructured Ministries and Offices, and informed Buhari on the modalities for the restructuring.
She further explained to the President that the investigations into allegations of serious misconduct against the three permanent secretaries had been reviewed by the Federal Service Management Committee (FSMC) under her chairmanship.
Oyo-Ita also informed the President that allegations against Bamidele, Ejele and Odusote were baseless and unfounded, saying that no prima facie had been established against them.
She therefore urged the President to redeploy them.
But in spite of these correspondences, the permanent secretaries are yet to be redeployed while they are at home expecting intervention of President Buhari.
When contacted over the matter, an official in the office of Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF) told The Daily Times that she was not aware of the development.
The official, who sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, stated that only the HoS could speak on the matter. She added that the HoS would soon explain the circumstances surrounding the issues.