Last week, there was a report over disquiet in the offices of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) due to the retention of the heads of both organisations in office four months after they reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 as stipulated in the public service rules.
Both Ahmed Idris, the Accountant General and Boboye Oyeyemi, the Corps Marshall of the FRSC, reached the mandatory retirement age in November 2020. Going by the extant rules they ought to have retired and handed over to the next ranking officer in their organisations pending either the appointment of their replacements or formalisation of the appointments of those that they handed over to.
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But both officers are still clinging to their seats and enjoying all the perquisites, citing their appointments as tenured.
By this reason, they hope to stay on in contravention of the public service rules which expressly says the contrary.
The public service rules which guide employment of federal civil servants stipulates 60 years of age and 35 years in service (which ever comes first) as terminal points for all categories of employees.
In the particular case of Oyeyemi, who was first appointed into the office in 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan. His reappointment contravenes both the public service rules as well as the act establishing the FRSC. The FRSC Act in Section 2(1) stipulates that all its commissioners, including the Corps marshal can only serve for four years.
In defending the reappointments of the Accountant General, Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige said President Buhari was acting in line with presidential powers granted under the 1999 Constitution. He said Section 171 of the constitution empowers the president to appoint persons into some extra-ministerial offices of which the office of the Accountant General was one. In a similar vein, the spokesperson of the FRSC, Bisi Kazeem, said Oyeyemi is serving at the pleasure of the president who by the provisions of the FRSC Act is empowered to make the appointment.
It has been observed that cases of such controversial appointments are not limited to the two organisations in the public service. The case of the service chiefs who were only replaced last month after serving beyond their retirement dates comes to mind. The tenures of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service as well as that of the Inspector General of Police were similarly extended.
This untoward development has become rampant under this administration, spreading to include various agencies of government and even the academia. This act makes nonsense of the public service rules which was enacted to maintain its professionalism and relevance in the scheme of governance.
We believe that whatever may have informed the extension of tenure for these officers by the president, the need to uphold the provisions of the extant rules should have been considered more than the conveniences of the action. This is especially as this tends to breed negative consequences affecting service morale, discipline and professionalism. It also breeds corruption among officers who may want to do whatever is possible to remain in office or some others who, because of the fear that they may not be allowed to rise to the pinnacle of their careers because of sit-tight bosses, enrich themselves through criminal ways. This development gives the impression that the administration, despite, its avowed commitment to reforming the public service for efficient service delivery, is not living to its words.
This practice must be stopped forthwith as it is neither in the interest of the administration nor that of the country. A succession plan should be in place in all sectors so that replacing an officer is not a problem and in doing so extant rules should be followed.