…urge National Assembly leadership to review exercise in line with its oversight function
The National Assembly has been urged to intervene in the ongoing appointments of Consuls General/Chargé d’Affaires in the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, and review them.
A league of concerned and affected senior officers in the ministry who made the passionate appeal for an urgent review of the exercise, citing the lawmakers’ constitutional responsibilities and oversight function over the ministry.
In a letter dated December 29, 2020 and addressed to the Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan, and Senator Adamu M. Bulkachuwa, the Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, the senior officers are protesting what they call abnormalities being perpetrated in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where junior colleagues are being appointed into positions over their seniors.
A copy of the letter entitled, “Passionate Appeal For Urgent Review Of The Ongoing Appointments Of Consuls General/Chargé D’affaires In The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs’’, was made available to Persecondnews.
The signatories to the letter are I. A. Imam and A. A. Bolaji (both Directors), N. A. Ella, Dr. Cyprain Heen, Grema Garba Gana, Umaru Kamfut, I. G. Zanna, Ogidan Stephen Ojo, Waje Nasiru, I. Sulaiman, G. Yohanna, M. G. Bello, D.A.B.D. Muhammad and S. N. Tiggi, all Deputy Directors.
Others are Joseph Atodo, U. A. Sambo, Y. D. Faruk, D. A. Mohammed, Oliyide Oluremi, A. T. A. Ajayi, and Mustpaha T. Mukaila, also all Deputy Directors.
The affected officers are from Benue, Borno, Edo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Osun and Oyo States.
The letter states in part: “It is with all due sense of responsibility that we wish to humbly draw your kind attention to some abnormalities being perpetrated in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where junior colleagues are being appointed into positions over their seniors. We believe that in the interest of the Service and the Nation, such aberration should not be allowed to define our system.
“Given your constitutional responsibilities and oversights over the Ministry, we wish to invite Your Excellency to note our concerns and intervene accordingly.
“It is in this respect that we wish to notify that the current appointments of Consuls General and Chargé d’Affaires En Titre as released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, 21st December 2020, calls for urgent review, in the interest of the Service and in upholding its time-honoured traditions, practices and procedures, which have been applied in its entire history.
“This is because the appointment to such posts is usually based on three major criteria. First is the principle of Seniority in Service; second is that of Federal Character; and third is lumped under merit, competence and experience of officers. Regrettably, while emphasise have often been placed on the first-two principles and were duly followed by the leadership and management of the Ministry in such appointments of Consuls Generals as recently as in 2016 and 2018, no attention was paid to merit, competence and experience of officers.
Alleging that seniority and merit was jettisoned in the appointments, the senior officers also said: “In the current exercise, while it can be said that the Federal Character principle was adhered to in some respect, it is regrettable to note that the principle of seniority and merit, competence and requisite experience was deliberately disregarded.
“The result is that subordinate officers were considered and appointed as Consuls General and Chargé d’Affaires En Titre over and above their seniors. As a rank-conscious Service, just like the Military, the travesty of this practice portends great danger for morale, espirit-de-corps and camaraderie that the Foreign Service has promoted and enjoyed over the years.
“It is on these premises that we observe that in the current appointments, a new unknown consideration was introduced and crafted as, “Most Senior in States that do not have career Ambassadors”, in order to simply justify the appointment of a few favoured colleagues on the basis of political consideration and connections.
“Bringing to bear political pressures on the system by well-connected junior officers, who are Assistant Directors over their Seniors, who are Deputy Directors and substantive Directors, will evidently destroy the very essence of the Foreign Service. In other climes, such officers who bring political pressures on the system are identified and punished appropriately to serve as deterrence.
“By experience and from records, the usual practice has been that States that do not have career Ambassadors are represented by the appointment of non-career Ambassadors and the inclusion of officers from the National Intelligence Agency, which in this case was done for all States in the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Please see Table I on the Appointment of Ambassadors by Mr. President in 2020.
“For purpose of emphasis, no State, out of the 36 states plus the FCT claim not to have been represented in the 2020 Ambassadorial appointment, whether career or non-career. Some States even have up to three appointees while other have four. Table II also shows the appointment of officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, based strictly on seniority per State and the corresponding number of senior officers within the field of selection who were not considered! Table III shows the list of non-Career Ambassadors whose tenure were renewed by Mr. President and Career-Ambassadors appointed in 2019 and currently at posts. In the same vein, Table IV shows the number of Ambassadors appointed from the cadre of officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2017 based strictly on the principle of seniority.
“Contrary to the claims that the affected States do not have career Ambassadorial appointees, a comparative analysis of the various appointments made in the affected States is hereby outlined for records:
|States||Career Officers Appointed from the Agency in 2020||Non-Career Ambassadors Appointed in 2020||Non-Career Ambassadors Appointed Retained|
|Abia||C. O. Nwachukwu||Amb. Uzoma E. Emenike|
|Bauchi||Y. S. Yusuf||Abubakar D. Ibrahim Siyi||Amb. Yusuf M. Tuggar
Amb. Muhammed Baba Madugu
|Ekiti||Amb. Dr Eniola Ajayi|
“In addition, contrary to the claim that the “Most Senior in States that do not have career Ambassadors”, were appointed, we wish to bring these facts to your attention in relation to two of the affected States:
*** Seniority List of Assistant Directors from Abia and Delta States in MFA
|State||Name of Officers||Date of Birth||Date of First Appointment
|Years left in Service|
|Delta||J. U. Oyi
Clark-Omeru A. Efe
“However, according to some sound analysts, it does appear that in order to promote and achieve regional bigotry, ethnic inclination and geo-political agenda, professional consideration and time-honoured practice were jettisoned on this occasion by bringing junior colleagues to prominence and relevance above their superiors with proven competence.’’
According to them, the novel criterion being applied, if allowed to stand, will totally distort the well-established practice and traditions of the Foreign Service.
“By this consideration, a pertinent question that should be asked is whether the appointment of these junior officers to represent their States does not jeopardise the nomination of their colleagues from the same States in subsequent appointments? It is submitted that the best option opened to the Ministry would be to post qualified officers from the affected States upon attaining the rank of Deputy Director (SGL.16) to posts and designate them as Deputy Heads of Mission as a form of compensation to each!
“As stated above, in the past 50 years of the Ministry, the positions of Consuls General and Chargé d’Affaires En Titre have always been offered to the most senior officers in the respective states, where for want of vacancies and the application of the Federal Character principle, they have been excluded in the selection process of Ambassadorial appointment.
“Adopting this policy under the leadership of H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama as Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, the two most senior officers from Niger State were appointed Consuls General to Hong Kong and Atlanta in 2018 on the basis of seniority. Similarly, in the same year, the two most senior officers from Anambra State were appointed Chargé d’Affaires En Titre to our Missions in Athens and Bujumbura.
“In those appointments, the dogma of seniority was sacrosanct! (See the attached Table V on the appointment of Consuls General and Chargé d’Affaires En Titre in 2018). In contrast, this will be the first and only time that Senior Officers, who have barely 3 or 4 years left in the service to retire were denied appointment, in preference to their subordinates who still have over 15 years in service, to be appointed Consuls General and Chargé d’Affaires.
“These subordinate officers, being the most senior in their respective states are almost automatic candidates for Ambassadorial Appointments come 2023 and beyond. So why elevate them before their senior colleagues who have never been appointed? Persecondnews quotes the officers as saying.
Citing the civil service rules, the foreign affairs ministry officers said the placement of subordinates over their superiors has very grave implication for the Ministry and the entire civil service, noting that it will destroy professionalism, lower morale and scuttle career prospects of its senior officers.
The officers also stated: “It gives the impression of the inability of the leadership of the Ministry to do the right thing, and uphold the basic tenets, practices and processes of the Ministry. It will destroy professionalism, lower morale and scuttle career prospects of its senior officers now and in the future. In contrast with the above examples, please see Table VI on the recent appointment of Consuls General and Chargé d’Affaires En Titre in 2020 which were based on the appointment of the “Most Senior in States that do not have career Ambassadors”!
“Further more, it is pertinent to address the issue of gender consideration raised in the current appointment. While it may be helpful to consider gender and give the women-folk added advantage in appointments, due consideration must be given to the context and proprietary of officers within the same rank and of equal standing in contemporary appointment. From available records in the Ministry, the seniority of the three officers from Kaduna State who are currently Deputy Directors is outlined below for comparative purposes.
*** Seniority List of Deputy Directors from Kaduna State in MFA
|Name of Officer||Date of Birth||Date of First Appointment||Year of Joining MFA||Years left in Service|
|Ibrahim Suleiman||13/04/1962||12/09/1988||1993||2 years|
|Yohanna Gideon||18/06/1963||20/12/1990||2007||3 years|
|Amina Smaila||28/07/1975||17/11/1997||2008||15 years|
“From the Table above, even though all the officers are currently Deputy Directors, Ambassadors Ibrahim Suleiman and Gideon Yohanna were due for promotion to substantive Director with effect from 01/01/2020! Therefore, applying the gender card in the case of officers from Kaduna State will cause grave injustice to the most senior officer from the State. Moreover, that the only female officer from the State still has about 15 years in the service! What then is the hurry!
“Finally, it may interest Your Excellency to note that close observers have expressed disappointment that the failure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the last three years to adhere to its cherished traditions and policies has earned it opprobrium in the eyes of the general public and the media as a Service that has continued to perpetrate needless administrative recklessness and impunity!
“We, therefore, respectively urge the leadership to discourage a system that is easily susceptible to undue interference and political manipulation aimed at compromising extant regulations, policies and time-honoured principles so as not to commit injustice and oppression on its officers.
“While concluding, it is arguable that due to political considerations, all States in the Federation may not get equitable representation in matters of appointment; however, it will be fair to assume that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will do what is right, equitable and justifiable among its officers, rank and file within the tenets of its rules, policies and procedures.
“Our prayers: From the foregoing, Your Excellency is humbly invited to consider the following actions:
“That in promoting the best interest of the Federal Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should follow due process and appoint Consuls General and Chargés d’Affaires En Titre based on time-honoured criteria of seniority, Federal character as well as merit, competence and experience.
“That officers with less than five years in the service should be given priority, while officers with 15 years and above should be considered for postings and accorded priority in Ambassadorial appointments in 2023.
“That the selection of officers for appointment as Consul Generals and Chargés d’Affaires En Titre should be based on the current list of officers conferred with the title of Ambassadors-in-Situ in order to enhance their status in the designated posts. (See Table VII).
“That the case of Kaduna State should be revisited and the most Senior officers appointed, while necessary consideration could be given to the female officer to proceed on posting on the basis of gender consideration. That political considerations should not be allowed to usurp the tenets of the Civil Service.’’