By Our Reporters – The Federal Civil Service Commission has carpeted Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Shehu Ahmed, describing his conduct in the recent posting of a director in the ministry as “unprofessional”.
The Commission, in a letter to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, noted what it called “some misconceptions arising from Dr. Ahmed’s pronouncement regarding the approval for his action on the controversial secondment.
It would be recalled that the Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN) had accused the Dr. Ahmed of wrongful posting of one Dr. Egejuru Eze and Dr. Moshood Raji in the department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services in violation of Public Service Rules 020506, an action which has led to serious crisis within the ministry.
Public Service Rules 020506 prohibits the posting of an Officer outside their professional cadre.
The Association alleged that the postings were based on nepotism and for personal gains.
Last month, Mr. Ogbeh waded in by directing the Perm Sec to reverse the controversial decisions, warning that his actions were already raising suspicion and impeding foreign donor supports to the ministry. The ministry of Agriculture generates more than 70percent of its revenue from donor support.
Following the concern expressed by the Minister, Dr. Ahmed in a letter reference FMA/HMA/050/II/4, conveyed the minister’s directives to all directors, executive secretary, executive directors, all director generals and provosts to put a halt on the posting and redeployments.
According to the Perm Sec, the HMA has directed “that all unapproved postings and deployments from January 1, 2016 till date in respect of all donor support funds/projects in both ministry, parastatals and agencies be reversed forthwith. Accordingly, all persons moved from 1st January, 2016 till date must be returned to their previous positions immediately.”
The memo exclusively obtained by News Investigators further read, “that any further measures by any authority within the ministry or any of its parastatals and agencies to cast aspersion either on the ministry or on the integrity of the HMA, in relation to the management of donor support funds and projects must be stopped forthwith.”
However, the Commission in a letter dated April 29, 2016, addressed to the Minister, blamed the Permanent Secretary, saying it is “strongly compelled to bring the matter urgently” to the attention of the minister.
The letter signed Commission Chairman, Dns. J.O. Ayo, “observed that a Veterinary Doctor is not professionally qualified to head the Animal Production and Husbandry Department and does not have the locus standi to certify the Animal Production and Husbandry Services staff working under him, for Examination purposes.”
The Commission denied culpability in the action of Dr. Ahmed, observing that it could not have approved the controversial secondment of Dr. Raji across cadre, to head the department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services, if he were a grade level 14 officer, as alleged by the Permanent Secretary (Agric), in his letter Ref. No. AGR 601/1/55 dated 17th March, 2016.
“From the records forwarded to the Commission, abinitio, Dr. Raji was a substantive Provost/Director on GL. 17 in the College of Agricultural Health and Production Technology, Ibadan. On completion of his tenure as Provost, Dr. Raji was appointed as Chief Lecturer/Director on GL. 17, in the College.”
“On receipt of the letter Ref. No. AGR601/1/55 dated 17th March, 2016, from the Permanent Secretary (Agric), Dr. Shehu M. U. Ahmed, the Commission invited him (Perm. Sec. Agric.) and Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, for an Interactive Meeting to correct the erroneous impression that Dr. Raji was a GL.14 Officer. The meeting was held on 22nd March, 2016. At the meeting, the Commission established the status of Dr. Raji as a substantive Director on GL.17,” the Commission told the minister.
Adding that “it is therefore unprofessional for the Permanent Secretary (Agric.), to continue to insist that Dr. Raji is a GL.14 Officer and unfit to head a Department in the ministry of Agriculture.”
Sources in the Ministry told News Investigators that the minister has proposed a split of the department as a way to resolve the crisis.
“But l can tell you, that is not the solution. We have established a clear case of abuse of office and maladministration, the minister will be begging the issue because the department was already separated by a previous administration,” declared a source who pleaded anonymity.
The source however hinted that the union might be heading to court to challenge the actions of the Permanent Secretary’s action, saying “the minister appears to be playing politics with the matter.”