Nigeria: Tension Brews in Finance Ministry Over Hand Over

Finance Minister, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed.

Abuja — Tension is brewing at the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja, over plans by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed to hand over the reins to one of the permanent secretaries, Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, considered a political appointee, instead of Dr. Mohammed Kyari Dikwa, a career civil servant and bureaucrat.

A valedictory Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting is billed to hold tomorrow, following which President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to appreciate the ministers for their contributions to national development, and thereafter dissolve the cabinet after which the ministers would handover to the permanent secretaries in their respective ministries.

Isa-Dutse, believed to be close to the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, was appointed outside the civil service from the African Export Import Bank (AFRIEXIM Bank) in November 2015, while Dikwa a career civil servant and former Acting Accountant General of the Federation was appointed in November 2018, and assigned to the ministry as Permanent Secretary, Special Duties.

He resumed in that capacity in February this year. But prior to that he has been the engine room of reform initiatives in the ministry, heading the Presidential Continuous Audit of Ministries Departments and Agencies (PICA), which saved over N500b for the Federal Government's payroll.

A staff of the ministry, who asked not to be named told The Guardian that of the ministry's 12 schedules, Dikwa oversees eight, while Isa-Dutse oversees the remaining four and wonders why it is someone overseeing fewer schedules that should be handed over to.

The development is already causing ripples particularly among the top echelon of the ministry, who see the plan not only as an abuse of power, but an erosion of ethics and values in the civil service. Accordingly, the staff have communicated their grievances to President Buhari. In the copy of the complaint sighted by The Guardian yesterday, they urged the President to stop the plan because "for the first time, the National Assembly scored capital budget implementation under Isa-Dutse's supervision zero repeatedly, he is above 60 years, which is the limit of service in line with Civil Service Rules, which means he ought to have been retired.

"As an appointee civil servant, his tenure is supposed to terminate latest May 29, 2019 being not a career civil servant; during his tenure, several protests were held by the staff union over his penchant for abandoning treatment of files for one overseas trip or the other, thereby impeding the smooth implementation of the economic policies of the Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance."

Attempts by The Guardian, yesterday to get the reaction of the Minister of Finance were not successful just as calls put across to the ministry's Director of Information, Mr. Dodo Hassan, as well as the minister's Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Mr. Paul Ella Abechi were unsuccessful.

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