Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education has insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive extending the tenure of the Permanent Secretary of the Education Ministry, Dr. Jamila Shu’ara, must be submitted to it.
This is as Shu’ara, for the second time in one week, shunned the summons of the committee, which had directed her to appear with the letter. Shu’ara, by her own admission at an earlier meeting on February 22, 2017, is 61 years old. She had claimed to be in possession of the presidential directive, extending her tenure in civil service by one year. Since the meeting, she has however refused to honour the summons of the committee or submit the presidential directive.
In an interesting development, the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu, appeared at the hearing yesterday, as representative of Shu’ara, but the committee did not entertain the development, on grounds of being a breach in protocol. The Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, who signed the memo dated Febuary 24, 2016 conveying the extension to Shu’ara, attempted to explain the circumstances.
While the said presidential directive extended her tenure for one year, which lapsed on February 24, 2017, Shu’ara continues to occupy the position.
Oyo-Ita cited Section 171 (1) of the Constitution, which vests powers to appoint certain officials in the President, and the Public Service rules which states that the powers to appoint or remove a Permanent Secretary, belongs to the President, and at his prerogative.
“It means if the President is satisfied with the service of an officer either by performance, it is his prerogative. When a PS is going to retire, he or she is not just going to abandon his post, I have to convey to the President that so so person, has put in notice of retirement, then the President approves the removal, which in this case is retirement,” Oyo-Ita said.
She was however unable to produce the memo, which she relied on, to write an extension letter for Shu’ara, claiming that she was not requested to bring it.
The committee however countered her noting that the invitation letter to her had directed her to bring along all relevant documents to the subject matter.
The Chairman, Hon. Zakari Mohammed (Kwara APC) said the powers of the President to appoint or remove a Permanent Secretary is not in contention.
“I am sure the President would not give you a verbal directive to extend the tenure,…something triggered that letter you wrote to her extending her tenure, so it is that letter we are asking for, from you and Dr. Shu’ara,” he said.
“We are doing this for posterity, this matter may be referred to someday, so let us not be concerned with the semantics. What sections of the law were relied on to advise the President on extension of her tenure? I am sure if the tenure of others were extended, you would not be here today as Head of Service ,” Mohammed said.
Speaking on the absence of Shu’ara, Mohammed read a letter signed by the Ministry’s Director of Procurement, Dr. Hussein Adamu, claiming she was away.
“This letter is neither here not there, and she has stayed away for the second time. The PS is taking us for a ride, and that we will not accept, we would take her headlong, as long as we are on this side of the divide,” he said.
The Chairman also rejected the offer of the Minister to stand in for Shu’ara.
Adamu asked to read what he said is an extensive letter explaining the circumstances, and added that he sent her on an assignment.
Mohammed however insisted that Shu’ara must appear before the committee next Thursday.
“Hon. Minister, we appreciate you being here, but we cannot take you as her representatives, there are protocols, and I have never seen that happen, the head can never be the tail,” he added.