Cabinet ministers can no longer directly remove heads of agencies and parastatals they supervise, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
A circular from the government shows that a multi-layered procedure that appears to strengthen the role of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the disciplinary process has been put in place.
Dated May 19 and endorsed by the SGF, Boss Mustapha, the circular, conveyed the concern of the government about the tendency by some ministers to arbitrarily remove chief executive officers of agencies; causing an impact on stability and service delivery.
It was gathered that the circular was dispatched to all ministers and other senior officials, including the head of service, the president’s chief of staff, military chiefs, the central bank governor, permanent secretaries, among others.
Ministers, had in the past, arbitrarily exercised powers to discipline heads of agencies, commissions or departments they supervise, including suspending and dismissing them from office.
According to a report, the power minister, Sale Mamman, in January, removed Damilola Ogunbiyi and Marilyn Amobi, the chief executives of the Rural Electrification Agency, and the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company respectively apparently without clearance from the presidency or adopting a process of query and panel probe.
President Buhari, however, reversed the minister’s action. The minister also sacked the Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Usman Mohammed, alongside four directors of the company, claiming that his move was approved by President Buhari.
In the meantime, the SGF’s circular now protects heads of agencies from their supervising ministers’ arbitrariness but may have created a hurdle of red-tapism that may delay or even prevent sanction for abuses.
Also, ministerial threats of sanctions in the event of no performance, such as the one issued by communications and digital economy minister, Isa Pantami, to agencies under his ministry in August 2019, may no longer yield any effect.