Directors at Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are refusing to retire after attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 years, sources have said.
Several Ministry workers confirmed that the directors, with the approval of the Minister, Ambassador Gbenga Ashiru, have been campaigning against retirement, claiming that if about 100 of them retired by January 2014, the Ministry will collapse.
The sources, speaking anonymously, told our reporter that the decision of the aging directors to remain in office is hurting staff morale as junior directors are made to feel they are incompetent and stand no chance of moving up the ladder.
The reality of the situation hit them on Sunday when Olutola John Onijala, State Chief of Protocol (SCOP) to President Goodluck Jonathan, turned 60 but showed up in office to continue work today.
As a civil servant, he should have been retired from the service according to the statute, but for reasons beyond anybody's comprehension, President Jonathan is alleged to have been misled into allowing Mr. Onijala to stay on.
The Ministry, from which SCOPs are picked, was supposed to have nominated three directors to the President since February 2013 from which to choose a suitable replacement, but because of the active connivance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ashiru and Jonathan's Chief of Staff, Mike Oghiadomhe, this was not done.
Instead, Minster of foreign affairs waited until late April to direct his Permanent Secretary to send a letter to the President’s Chief of Staff, recommending that Ambassador Onijala remain in office indefinitely. The COS, in-turn, reportedly “coloured” the recommendation before forwarding it to the President for his endorsement.
A source told that as highly-regarded as Ambassador Onijala may be, it is against the law for any retired officer to occupy a position reserved for serving officers, especially as there are over 100 capable hands readily available to choose from.
Political observers cite this indiscretion as one of the manipulative excesses of President Jonathan. They recall cite the removal of Governor Sylva from office, and his ongoing prosecution. Furthermore, he retained Ms. Oruma Oteh in office, contrary to the directives of the National Assembly; refused to restore Justice Ayo Salami to his rightful position even against court orders, and granted pardon to convicted "thief" DSP Alameiseigha even though there exists an international arrest warrant.
Journalists reached out to Ambassador Onijala today to ask why he returned to office after turning 60 years. He requested that we call back in one hour, but did not answer subsequent calls or return text messages sent to his phone.