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Who wants Dr Dogo’s job?

Despite the deliberate deployment of a confusing web of civil service circulars and gazettes to obscure the plain issues involved, one does not have to…

Despite the deliberate deployment of a confusing web of civil service circulars and gazettes to obscure the plain issues involved, one does not have to be an Oronsaye to see through the scheme of hounding Dr Dogo Mohammed out of office with such desperation. From facts that have been made available through press reports on this issue it is clear that the said Dr Dogo Mohammed was only appointed Executive Secretary of the NHIS “after his brilliant performance during a rigorous interview exercise” for a vacancy which was advertised even in The Economist of London of September 16, 2006 to show that it was not just another civil service job. This was a job that was advertised internationally with a view to attracting the most suitable person worldwide. To buttress the contention that the job was not a run-of-the-mill civil service position, there was no GL this or GL that indicated as remuneration as the government declared in the advertisement that “details of the package will be negotiated with the successful candidate”.  As an “internal and external advertisement” it did not rule out the possibility of a Nigerian getting the job which is what eventually happened. It was also clearly stated that the tenure is five years renewable.

As far as Dr Dogo Mohammed is concerned, he assumed duty on March 1, 2007 after due process and approval by the then president and he had the singular advantage of being the National Coordinator of the NHIS in 2006 pending the appointment of a substantive Executive Secretary. Prior to this, he had been transferred from Bauchi State into the federal civil service under the health ministry as Consultant Special Grade II on GL 16 in February 2002 with effective date of March 20, 2002 which was upgraded to Consultant Special Grade 1 on GL 17 with actual effect from September 2005. On becoming the NHIS Chief Executive, he applied for leave of absence from the Federal Ministry of Health but was advised to apply for transfer of service instead. The Federal Civil Service Commission responded in February 2008 by seconding him from the mainstream of the Federal Civil Service in the Federal Ministry of Health to NHIS as Executive Secretary.

Trouble started for Dr Dogo Mohammed when in December 2009 he applied for retirement from the main service as required by the controversial Oronsaye reform circular of July 2009 so that he could continue with his tenured appointment at NHIS. Oronsaye as Head of Service would have none of this and he fired back that Dr Dogo Mohammed had made a “belated request” which he was turning down because his circular of July 2009 directed career officers holding tenured appointments to retire with immediate effect and continue to run their terms. Even the NHIS Governing Council was taken aback by Oronsaye’s response and sought further clarification from the SGF and the Health Minister, pointing out that Dr Dogo Mohammed had a tenured appointment from March 1, 2007 for five years. Dr Dogo Mohammed smelt a rat and headed for the Federal High Court where he got a restraining order against the immediate retirement order pending determination of the matter.

This was followed by the presidential endorsement of Dr Mohammed’s continuation of tenure as NHIS executive secretary, and barely a week later, the presidential u-turn in response to a rattled Oronsaye.

 It should be noted that Dr Dogo Mohammed had instructed his lawyers to withdraw the case when he got the endorsement only for him to be ditched unceremoniously. The Minister of Health even went to the extent of issuing directives to banks to freeze the NHIS account and dishonour cheques signed by Dr Dogo Mohammed, thereby highlighting the million naira real issue again.

There is evidently an orchestrated agenda of hounding Dr Dogo Mohammed out of the top job at the NHIS. If we go by the date of his transfer into the Federal Civil Service in March 2002, he had no reason to immediately retire from office in July 2009 because by January 2010 he would not have completed the eight years targeted by Oronsaye’s circular. And if we go by Section 2 (iii) of the circular, failure to retire immediately “would mean that they would vacate office on attaining the mandatory retirement age or at the expiration of their term, which ever comes first.” Since Dr Dogo Mohammed is not yet sixty years old, the effect of this proviso is that he will vacate office at the expiration of his five year tenure as ES of the NHIS in March 2012.

These are the plain facts of the matter which initially earned him a presidential endorsement before those who want his “multi-million naira NHIS” job desperately pulled the geo-ethnic strings. Dr Dogo Mohammed’s real “offence” is his well-known stubbornness in resisting the pressure of certain people who see nothing in the NHIS but opportunity to enrich themselves and recoup their political losses. To these people, with the imminent end of their political tenures, only by a premature, unwarranted removal of Dr Dogo Mohammed from the NHIS can they hurriedly secure their personal insurance scheme. This is a typical example of how the Nigerian factor works against the progress of Nigeria by promoting the primordial sentiments and pecuniary interests of a few well-placed persons over an above our collective national interest. The last has not been heard of this matter!

 Ekezie is a retired civil servant in Abuja  

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