Ondo election: INEC to ensure early opening of pollsBy Charles Kumolu

Fresh facts have emerged revealing plot to reverse Federal Government’s policy which had earlier suspended eight-year tenure system for top management staff of the federal civil service.

The move, Vanguard gathered, is  targeted at the leadership of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, ministries, departments and other agencies, seeks to make anyone, who has served as a director for eight years to retire, even without serving for 35 years or attaining the retirement age of 60.

A source privy to the plot said the plan, which is being spearheaded by those described as powerful forces in INEC and top government functionaries, might seek the anointing of the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, and Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

The late President Musa Yar’Adua had suspended the policy, which was retained by President Goodluck Jona-than upon assumption of office. President Muhammadu Buhari also maintained the policy until June 17, 2016.

In a letter written by then Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, seen by Vanguard, which was in reference to a June 17, 2016, missive from the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President, the earlier policy of eight-year tenure was suspended. Titled: “Suspension of the Tenure Policy in the Federal Civil Service,’’ the letter read: “With reference to the letter No. SH/ COS/100/A/d 17th June 2016, I write to convey Mr. President’s directive that the tenure policy in the federal civil service is suspended with immediate effect. This notice is for the attention of all concerned for compliance.”

However, Vanguard learned that those pushing for the reversal may be particularly targeting INEC ahead of the 2023 polls. Should the policy be reversed, it would result in the sudden exit of some cadre of officers and even alter the ethnic equation in the commission.

Explaining this, a source said: “This is expected to pave the way for the occupation of such newly created vacancies by other staff within such agencies or by others on transfer occasioned by lateral movement within the system, likely from a section of the country.

“This onslaught is coming just two weeks after INEC performed exceptionally well by carrying out orders of President Buhari within the context of his avowed commitment to enthrone a legacy of free and fair election, with the celebrated outcome of the governorship election in Edo State.

“Some ministries and agencies of government are already putting in place some measures that are bound to yield positive dividends in the not-too-distant future. Some of the drivers of these new initiatives are the ones that would most likely be affected by this push if it enjoys the collaboration of the Office of Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on the one hand, and the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF. ” Another source at the Federal Civil Service Commission said: “Whereas some ministries and agencies would want this, it would still create more problems for the system because retirements would come in too fast.

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”Policies and directives that are already being pursued and have reached advanced stages would suffer and lose traction. That is not what President Buhari wants. Mr. President wants to leave a good legacy and those pushing this agenda would only muddy the waters because some Nigerians already feeling aggrieved, rightly or wrongly, would read nepotism into this again.”

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, states, in Section 158(1) that “in exercising the powers to make appointments or to exercise disciplinary control over persons, the Code of Conduct Bureau, the National Judicial Council, the Federal Civil Service Commission, the Federal Judicial Service Commission, the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, the Federal Character Commission and the Independent National Electoral Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority or persons.”

Section 160(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, frees INEC from external encumbrances, by stating that: “Subject to subsection (2) of this section, any of the bodies may, with the approval of the President, by rules or otherwise regulate its own procedure or confer powers and impose duties on any officer or authority for the purpose of discharging its functions, provided that in the case of the Independent National Electoral Commission, its powers to make its own rules or otherwise regulate its own procedure shall not be subject to the approval or control of the President.’’

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