Tenure Elongation Controversy: Interior Minister Has Right to Advise President

PRESS STATEMENT

The attention of the Coalition of Civil Societies and Media Executives for Good Governance in Nigeria (COCMEGG) has been drawn to what can best be described as orchestrated headlines, masquerading as real stories, as well as social media stories, sponsored by ostensibly disgruntled elements with the headline,“Like the Military Chiefs, FG Plans ‘2nd’ Tenure Elongation for Immigration, Prisons, Civil Defence Bosses.”

COCMEGG, as a Coalition that champions and propagates transparency, accountability and good governance regime in Nigeria over the years, views these allegations as malicious story lines, smear campaign well intended to cast aspersions on the hard earned reputation of the Chief Executive Officers of the para-military agencies under the Ministry of Interior: the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS).

In view of the foregoing, COCMEGG affirms that all the paramilitary agencies’ Chief Executives under the ministry have inalienable rights to aspire to any office of their choice and/or to seek for renewal of their present positions if they so please and eventually has been approved by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

COCMEGG is therefore constrained to issue this statement in order to put the records straight and let the general public be aware of the deeply concealed nefarious activities by these agent-provocateurs and mischief makers who are hell-bent on denigrating and disparaging Ogbeni Rauf Adegbeshola’s proactive governance style presently taking place at the Ministry:

1. That as long as the Chief Executives of the various parastatals under mention have performed creditably well therefore carving a niche for themselves in their various capacities and having been endorsed by the Honourable Minister of Interior for a job well done, they can be re-appointed or have their tenure elongated for the growth and development of the Ministry and Nigeria in general.

2. That the Chief Executive Officers have not yet exceeded their mandatory retirement ages and years of service as outlined in the said story, under the Ministry of Interior. For instance, the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps is yet to attain the mandatory 35 years in service and has also not reached 60 years of age, as stipulated by the extant public service rules. And, as such, has the right, like other CEOs, to aspire to be re-appointed or his tenure elongated to continue to meritorious serve the nation.

3. The willful and carefully orchestrated campaign on the social media especially on the “metrowatchonline.com”platform is unfortunate and mischievously carved out against the management of the agencies mentioned under the Ministry. This sad story, COCMEGG found out, is the handiwork of spurious individuals, who have fabricated the fallacy orchestrated in order to retrogressively change the proactive milestones presently taking place at the various agencies. Despite these ill-intended publications, COCMEGG has however been assured that the various organs will continue to work assiduously with sister agencies to nip in the bud the security challenges across the country. With this assurance, COCMEGG prevails on these elements to leave the Ministry of Interior alone to face its constitutional responsibilities.

4. That this now lucid orchestrated smear campaign of calumny embarked upon by some disgruntled elements in the social media against the hard earned reputation of the Ministry in a section of the media by traducers and fifth columnists should be discountenanced and disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians. COCMEGG investigations reveal that the intention of the sponsors of these social media story is to drag the name of the Ministry of Interior into odium and public ridicule, so as to settle perceived political and individual scores.

5. COCMEGG’s independent evaluation of the Ministry of Interior management shows alignment with the transparent leadership and good governance stance of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. This gambit by the sponsors is to silence the voice of transformation presently going on at the Ministry and, in the process, put it into oblivion and submission, thereby bringing the Ministry to its knees which will serve as a yard-stick to later accuse it of gross under-performance. The present Commandant-General of the NSCDC is 58 years old and has not yet attained the mandatory 35 years retirement age in service as prescribed by the extant public service rules of Nigeria. Due to this, the CG has the right to seek for extension or elongation of his service as the case may be. The frivolous campaign, as COCMEGG has unraveled, is also targeted at the office and person of the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, who has not even attained 35 years in public service and has not reached the compulsory retirement age of 60 but still has more years ahead of him.

6. COCMEGG notes that the Minister of Interior, Ogbani Rauf Aregbesola, has acted within the ambit of the law by advising President Muhammadu Buhari to do the needful and re-appoint the Chief Executives of these para-military organizations under his ministry, particularly as the CG of NSCDC who is yet to attain the 35 years in service and 60 years of age as stipulated. He was diligently guided by the CG’s transparent leadership qualities and the continuance of service delivery as well as accountable management of the NSCDC to the Nigerian people. COCMEGG hereby recalls NSCDC’s conceptualization of the Agro-Rangers Initiative which has become the cynosure of all eyes and brain-child of the leadership in the reduction of hitherto constant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country. COCMEGG has before now noted that it was indeed a grassroots approach and a solution in response to the incessant kills and wanton destruction of lives and property in the country. COCMEGG notes that the scheme was also designed to give physical protection to agro-allied investments (both local and foreign) and everything that is related to the nation’s agricultural economy, as well as the protection of the citizenry from kidnapping and other violent crimes in the society. As gathered by COCMEGG, the scheme was, as well, to boost Nigeria’s food security and local industry for growth. In view of this, COCMEGG notes with satisfaction, that as at today, over 5,000 Agro-Ranger officials have been deployed to the country to protect farmers and their investments.

7. COCMEGG also came to realize that the management under the Commandant-General of the NSCDC has taken into consideration the development of infrastructure, capacity building and manpower development as most officers and personnel attend courses and professional examinations yearly unlike hitherto when personnel got promoted only once in ten years. It is in view of this also that COCMEGG acknowledges that the leadership is doing everything possible to boost the esprit-de-corps already enjoyed today by the Civil Defence personnel with prompt payment of salaries, allowances and other official entitlements as at when due.

8. Through thorough and independent investigations, COCMEGG realized that when the present leadership took over, there was no single state command in existence, but today, the Civil Defence can boost of 12 state Commands completed and on-going namely, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Delta, Anambra, Ebonyi, Edo,Sokoto, Kebbi, Gombe and Niger states respectively. COCMEGG saw that the directorate cadre was also developed and commissioned by expanding it to six directorates so as to work efficiently and effectively. COCMEGG has come, through this investigation, to realize that these malicious, deliberate and misleading narratives are willfully intended to pull down the hard earned paradigm shift presently taking place at the Ministry of Interior. These are also aimed at tarnishing the unblemished reputation of a distinguished professional who has spent the better part of his life serving, protecting and giving his all to the service of the nation. COCMEGG condemns, in strong terms, this intemperate castigation and malicious publication and therefore urges Nigerians to disregard the innuendoes as the handiwork of disgruntled elements.

9. In conclusion, COCMEGG therefore passes a vote of confidence on the hierarchy of the Ministry of Interior under Ogbeni Rauf Aregbeshola for the milestones so far achieved which are comparable with international best practices. COCMEGG therefore urges the authorities of the under the Ministry of Interior and Chief Executive Officers of the paramilitary agencies to remain focused and undeterred in their efforts to reposition the organization and provide best management practices to complement the actualization of President Muhammadu Buhari’s well-intended agenda. COCMEGG, as well, urges well-meaning Nigerians to be wary of the antics of such elements and spontaneously disregard such allegations and consider them as mere hoax and hog-wash.

Signed:

OMOBA KENNETH AIGBEGBELE
President, COCMEGG