The staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, are not happy with recent retirement of directors and appointments in the service arbitrarily made by the executive chairman.

The lopsided appointments did not favour experienced staff within the system but contract staff contrary to laid down civil service rules and guidelines. The retirement of the directors also came when Nigerians are battling with how to curtail the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country and its attendant economic challenges. Muhammad Nami, executive chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, seized the distraction caused by the coronavirus to relieve the directors of their position and install his cronies in the service.

His action has rendered experienced staff of FIRS unemployed at this precarious time in the country when they could use their experience to boost revenue generation in the country instead of converting contract staff with no requisite experience to permanent staff without going through proper recruitment process.

Nami allegedly subverted the 2016 Federal Civil Services Rules and Guidelines enacted by the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration in sacking directors who have not reached retirement age and appointing new directors in FIRS.

Realnews investigations showed that on March 24, the executive chairman retired all directors in the service that have served eight years and above to make way for his cronies. In an internal memo made available to Realnews, the executive chairman said the retirement was in line with Para 10: 1(a)(iii) of the Human Resource Programmes and Policy, HRPP, an internal Human Resources policy guiding the operations of FIRS.

“This is to formerly notify you that the board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service at its emergency meeting No.2 held on the 20th March, 2020, approved the retirement of all directors who have served eight years and above as directors in the service in line with Para 10: 1(a)(iii) of HRPP.

“We wish them well in their future endeavours. The board also gave its approval for the appointment of four coordinating directors in acting capacity and two group leads for a six months period,” he said.

Two days later, Nami released another memo where he announced the appointment of new directors. The memo on March 26, titled: ‘Addendum of Appointments by the FIRS Board stated that the appointment was made to support management towards meeting and surpassing its revenue targets. “This is to formerly notify you that the board of FIRS at its emergency meeting No. 2 held on March 20, 2020 also gave its approval for the appointments.”

But Realnews investigations revealed that some of the new directors appointed by the executive chairman like Ahmed Muhammed Musa, director, finance and accounts; Mustapha Ndajumo, special assistant technical to the executive chairman; Ahmed Ndannusa, director, internal affairs and efficiency; Abdulahi Ismaila, director, communication and liaison department and Aisha Hamza Mohammed, acting director, executive chairman’s office are not staff of FIRS. Investigations also showed that these new appointees are all from Nupe, Niger State, where Nami comes from.

Of note is that all the appointments contravened the same internal Human Resource Programmes and Policy of the FIRS which Nami relied on to retire the directors against the superior policy by President Buhari. For instance, section 2. 22 of the HRPP stated that “contract appointments shall only be made where the required skills and competence are not available within the service. The appointment must also be justified by relevant office or department making the request.”

Contrarily, Realnews gathered that for all the people Nami appointed, there are so many competent and skilled internal staff members to occupy the positions. None of the people so appointed possess any special skills that are not in abundance within the FIRS.

Apart from the allegation of cronyism in his appointments, Nami is also accused of abusing  the tenure policy of the federal civil service in retiring the FIRS directors. The tenure policy which previously made it compulsory for directors in the federal civil service to retire after eight years was reversed by President Buhari in 2016.

Consequently, Nami’s decision to retire the directors is against the directive of the president as stated in a circular from the office of the head of service of the federation on June 20, 2016, with reference number HCSF/428/S.1/139 that the tenure policy was been suspended by Buhari.

The circular signed by Winifred Oyo-Ita, former head of the Civil Service of the Federation, stated that: “With reference to letter No. SH/COS/100/A/1462 dated 17 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.”

Apart from ignoring the presidential directive, the wrongfully retired directors have not reached the retirement age of 60 years or serve up to 35 years in the civil service. But they were forcefully retired by Nami in order to have his way.

Contacted, FIRS denied the allegations of wrongful retirement, saying the retirement was in the interest of the workers. Abdulahi Ismaila, director, Communication and Liaison Department, said there was no witch-hunting in the retirement process. He accused the administration of Babatunde Fowler, former executive chairman of FIRS of not promoting workers in the last five years.

“The position of the director is the highest position in the service as a civil servant and the longer they stay in office, the longer it affects those below them. This has been the case in the service and some of these directors have served for more than eight years and some more that 10 years.

“Even during the administration of the immediate past executive chairman of the service, promotion examinations were conducted and those that passed the exams were told that there was no vacant position for them to be promoted. But when Nami came, he decided to motivate the workers by promoting them and in doing that he has to retire directors that have served eight years and above. His actions are well-intended, to boost morale of staff, entrench fairness and create efficiency in the service,” he said.

On the allegation of bringing contract staff to replace the retired directors, Ismaila said those who replaced the directors were promoted from the service. He acknowledge that contract staff was brought in, but said they had been around before the retirement of the directors.

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