Maina: Administrative issues and the rest of us
The return of the controversial ex-head of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina into the country did ignite a firestorm of revelations that raised more questions than answers and also called to question the actions and or inactions of some prominent members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
At various levels, key actors in what was for all intents and purposes, a national embarrassment sought to advance their roles in both Maina’s return to the country, his posting and subsequent promotion. The revelations which, arguably has consumed the Head Of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita, but continues to raise eyebrows within the polity.
President Muhammadu Buhari had asked for a report on the issue to be submitted to him by Oyo-Ita on the circumstances surrounding Maina’s reabsorption and promotion to the post of a Director in the civil service.
However, in a grand ploy to ensure that there were several other people to share in the huge embarrassment that they had caused the nation, more persons were sought to take responsibility for what they had absolutely no inkling about. For instance, the Ministry of the interior was a good place to also link to the ‘crime’ and several positions were canvassed just as it was done in the case of Oyo-Ita.
Incontrovertible sources from the ministry had disclosed that then Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, had asked the wanted former chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, to report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The source added that the Ministry of Interior sent a letter to the EFCC informing the commission that it had mandated Maina to make himself available for questioning at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja.
This goes to show that the Minister had no tolerance for persons or issues that bordered on alleged corruption and violation of administrative best practices.
For the records, the then Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau or any Minister for that matter, does not Chair the Senior Staff Committee of the Ministry. It is the sole responsibility of the Permanent Secretary to superintend over the committee as the Chairman and therefore, the decisions of such a Committee are sent to the Head of Service, and not Minister.
Second, the discipline, promotion, and appointments of civil servants lie with the Civil Service Commission hence, no civil servant is posted to any Ministry with the prior knowledge of the Minister. One then wonders how Dambazau could have been complacent in this case?
Furthermore, the then Permanent Secretary (as the engine room of the ministry) claimed sole responsibility before the Senate for the processes leading up to the time Maina reported in the ministry. This fact is in the public domain already and this is at one level.
It is important to further stress here that all civil servants in any Ministry report to the Permanent Secretary, not the Minister. Even where specific assignments are given to them, it is routed through that office. So there is no direct relationship between a Minister and the civil servants in the Ministry. The Permanent Secretary is the accounting officer and head of the civil servants in any Ministry, while the Minister serves only as a political head. The roles are therefore clear in the constitution.
At another level, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice had also narrated all the process that took place for Maina to return. Coincidentally, the former Minister of Interior, Dambazau was not even in the country when Maina returned, and he (Maina) was in the Ministry of Interior before his disappearance out of the country, an incident that happened during former President Jonathan’s government. This is probably the reason why he was sent back to the Ministry by the Head of Service and Federal Civil Service Commission. It could have been any ministry!
As Minister of Interior, the Minister chairs the Civil Defence, Immigration, Prisons, and Fire Service Board only. The Board has responsibility for the discipline, promotion, and appointment of personnel in Civil Defence, Immigration, Prisons, and Fire Service only.
In the final analysis, there are persons who have betrayed the system. They live amongst us. We must know who they are and what they have done and still can do. This is the only way we can put this issue behind us and avoid future reoccurrence.
Olusegun wrote from Akure.