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No new roles for chief of staff, SGF, says presidency

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There are no new roles for the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President Abba Kyari and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, the presidency explained at the weekend.The clarification came in reaction to the recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari urging new ministers to pass every memo meant for him through Kyari and those relating to the Federal Executive Council through Mustapha.

According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, the roles of the COS and SGF have not changed from what obtained during the first term of the Buhari administration, therefore access between the president and new members of cabinet remains open.The statement reads in part: “Recent media and social media reports on the responsibilities of the COS have suggested that the role has changed. This is not the case. Today, under the Buhari II administration, the role of COS remains the same as it was under Buhari I.

“It is worth stressing that the role and responsibilities of the COS and the method of communication and arranging of schedules between cabinet members and the president are based on the U.S. model where the same system operates and has done for decades.“That role is to act as the head of the presidential administration at Aso Rock; to be an adviser to the president on any and all matters; to be the line manager for all staff at Aso Rock; and to manage appointments and scheduling for the president.

“In the traditional presidential system, it is a primary function of a COS, which may vary according to the needs and desires of each president, to supervise key State House staff, control access to the office and the person of the president, manage communications and information flow, and this includes that which binds the relationship with the two other arms of government.“During the president’s first term, those were the responsibilities of the COS, and they remain the same responsibilities today. There is no change.

“When President Buhari explained to ministers that they would be expected to communicate with him and arrange scheduling to meet with him primarily via the COS, he did so as many of the Buhari II cabinet ministerial appointments are new appointments and cannot therefore be expected to know how matters of liaising with the president operate.

“This is to stress that access to the president is open to ministers. It is not true that this is denied them in the second term. Garba added: “The SGF on the other hand is responsible for ensuring the effective coordination and monitoring of the implementation of government policies and programmes. All cabinet matters must go through him.

“Under this dispensation, a performance evaluation of ministers and permanent secretary will be maintained by the SGF. Two weeks after assuming office, they are expected to sign mandate acceptance documents.”He stressed that it was time to end the unnecessary controversy to allow the appointees carry out their jobs.

The clarification notwithstanding, Peter Ojonugwa Ameh, National Chairman of Inter-party Advisory Committee (the umbrella body of registered political parties in Nigeria) sustained the criticism. He told The Guardian in Abuja: “The protocol that is well known to ministers is that their letters must reach the SGF or the COS. Naturally, that is where they are supposed to link. But for the president to say it is now the only authoritative channel gives me concern.

“Any power that is designated to a subordinate, if not properly checked, can always be abused. The president should have allowed a caveat in the case of an urgent national emergency for which the ministers might want to see the president for clear orders and directive.

“Nobody knows these people. The president appointed them. The person that was elected was President Muhammadu Buhari as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. So, whatever goes wrong or right is ascribed to President Muhammadu Buhari.“He should have left the clause because he will make the ministers to live in perpetual uncertainty as whatever they do against the COS or SGF could boomerang against them.”

Meanwhile, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has faulted claims that his colleagues in the Progressive Governors’ Forum were plotting to unseat National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole.He told reporters during an interactive session in Abuja: “I am not aware of governors working against the national leadership of the APC. I have not heard of any such thing. I have not heard of any gang-up against the national leadership. And if it exists, I am not aware of it and I am not a party to it.”

He also faulted the recent call for revolution by a section of Nigerians, describing the move as illegal.He said: “In Nigeria, we have elected a government. We have a constitution. We have a legislature. If you want to change the government, you go through the constitution. That is the most agreed change of government in all countries of the world. So, the call for revolution should not be taken lightly. They should be taken to court and treated according to the rule of law.”


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