Amid crushing financial challenges facing the Federal Government and its extant policy of tenure limitation for directors and permanent secretaries in the federal civil service, it has been revealed that about eight of its directors in the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have refused to retire from office more than five months after their tenure expired.
This was even as there are no official policy of tenure elongation for the affected directors.
FAAN and NCAA sources told Daily Sun that the continued stay in office of the retirees has frustrated attempts by the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika to recommend fresh names for the replacement of the retiring directors who have also continued to receive salaries and allowances, thus negating the civil service policy reforms put in place by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The affected directors in FAAN whose four-year tenure has elapsed include Sadiku Rafindadin, Director of Commercial and Business Development; Nike Aboderin, Director of Finance and Accounts; Honoris Anozie, Director of Human Resources and Administration; Group Captain USA Sadiq, Director of Aviation Security Services.
Daily Sun reliably learnt that the above directors were appointed from outside the agency, while Salisu Daura, an engineer in the agency grew through the ranks in FAAN to emerge Director of Engineering Services.
However, he recently reached the retirement age of 60 on August 5 and has not been replaced.
Meanwhile, in NCAA, the retiring directors still in office after attaining the mandatory retirement were appointed on February 27, 2017 are Tayib Adetunji Odunowo, Director of Aerodromes; Bilkisu Adam Sani, Director of Finance and Account; Group Captain Edem Oyo-Ita, Director of Air Transport Regulations, and Ahmed Abbas Sanusi, Director of Human Resource and Administration.
Tenure limitation policy
The tenure limitation policy, which aims at ensuring that most civil servants that are qualified are able to attain directorship status in the federal civil service as well as permanent secretary status was introduced by Obasanjo’s administration following the setting up of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) on February 4, 2004. Part of the reforms of the bureau was the introduction of a policy of four years of two terms for directors and permanent secretaries even if such persons were below the age of 60 and had served for less than 35 years in the civil service at the end of their terms.
Part of the reason the policy was put in place was because there were civil servants that had been directors or permanent secretaries for more than 13 years, which was congesting the system because those that were due for promotion to the post of directors were not promoted as there were no vacancies at the top level of the service.
When the late President Musa Umaru Yar’Adua took office in May 2007, his administration upheld the tenure limitation policy, saying it was primarily meant, “to institute due process in the appointment of directors and permanent secretaries, arrest the succession crisis in the service, create vacancies, reinvigorate the system and boost the morale of qualified and deserving officers.”
Nigeria’s public service rule 2007 as amended in 2009 under Yar’Adua covers the recruitment and retirement of public servants
Subsection (I) of the rule 020810, states that; “The compulsory retirement age for all grades in the service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.” Subsection (ii) states that; “No officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.”
Subsection (iv) of the rule states that; “Provided the officer would not have attained the retirement age of 60 years or spent 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier; (a) a director shall compulsorily retire upon serving eight years on the post, and (b), a permanent secretary shall hold office for a term of four years and renewable for a further term of four years, subject to satisfactory performance, and no more.”
If due process is to be followed according to the public service rule, it indicates that the employment contract signed between the Federal Government and the directors elapsed when their tenure ended in February, hence whatever salaries and allowances they are still receiving without an extension or renewal of their appointment can be deemed illegal.
No agency head has the power to appoint a director. In effect, the Director General of NCAA and the Managing Director of FAAN cannot be held responsible for the failure to appoint new directors as such decisions are only made by the supervising minister.
Daily Sun reached out to the Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu, to find out when new appointments would be made and he responded by saying that, “whatever the minister does is at the pleasure of the President.”
Growing through the ranks
The peak of civil service is level 17 which is the position of a general manager in aviation agencies and in some exceptional cases, a level 17 officer can be promoted to the position of a director but this is largely dependent on the government in power and the disposition of the aviation minister at the time. An example of such instances is Daura who grew through the ranks in FAAN, became a general manager and was later appointed a director.
Sources within both agencies tell Daily Sun that the position of a director has been political and in a parasatal, you can be over the retirement age as most of the current directors are above 60 years old but that the day their tenure expires is when their contract is supposed to end and it can either be renewed or they are removed. When such political appointments are made, in most cases, due to the fact that those appointed usually have little experience, they are forced to start learning the ropes and most often, have to be guided by the general managers in their respective departments.
However, members of staff of both agencies are hopeful that when new appointments would be made, considerations to head very critical departments would be given to the many core professionals within the system who are general managers and are usually more knowledgeable about the job.
“For instance, engineering is one of the most sensitive and technical departments and if you bring someone who is not a core professional, things will get messed up. The director of that department was a good fit because he is an engineer and he grew through the ranks in FAAN to become a director,” a source said.
Minister yet to inaugurate aviation boards
The failure to appoint new directors is not the first time the minister of aviation would be flouting civil service rules and setting aside due process.
On February 28, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari, directed all ministers to inaugurate the boards of the various agencies and parastatals under their supervision but three years after, Sirika is yet to comply with the order.
The directive came after President Buhari appointed 209 board chairmen and 1,258 board members in December 2017, the largest set of appointments he made after assuming office at the end of May 2015.
President Buhari had issued the directive through a circular signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, for ministers to proceed with the inauguration of the boards on or before Friday, March 9, 2018. Mustapha said his office had already streamlined the constitution of the boards in accordance with the statutes and sent the list of the chairmen and board members to the various ministers.
According to the Act setting them up, the agencies whose boards ought to have been inaugurated are FAAN, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), NCAA and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET). The Act setting up the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) does not provide for a board of directors.
One of the reasons cited by industry sources for the delayed inauguration of the boards was that the minister raised an objection that the Federal Government did not consider the qualification of the persons to be appointed into the boards, while announcing their compositions as required by the Acts establishing the agencies.
But some stakeholders in the industry said the minister ought to have officially met with the appropriate authorities to address the perceived challenge in the composition to avoid giving the impression that he wants to run the agencies as a sole administrator.