Despite attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 last Saturday, the acting Director General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Samson Shaibu, says he is in no hurry to step down, in what appears a bold defiance of the country’s Civil Service rule.
Premium Times reports that Mr. Shaibu’s decision to remain in office beyond his retirement date has angered not a few senior officials at the station, the Federal Ministry of Information and the presidency, who accused Information Minister Labaran Maku of encouraging the acting DG to sit tight in office.
The critics spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on condition of anonymity for fear they might be victimised by the administration.
By the rule, Mr. Shaibu should have commenced his pre-retirement leave in March, preparatory to his disengagement from service on June 22 when he turned 60.
But shortly before then, in February, he was asked to take over the running of the publicly owned station from the former DG, YusufNuhu, whose tenure expired. Mr. Shaibu was the most senior director in the Corporation at the time.
However, more than a week after he should have compulsorily retire from office, the acting DG is still hanging around and running the corporation in violation of service rule, which stipulates that all categories of workers in the public service shall compulsorily retire at 60 or after serving for 35 years, whichever is earlier.
The only exemptions are judicial officers and members of the Academic Staff of Universities who are entitled to retire at 70 and 65 years respectively. The law specifically says that a director shall compulsorily retire upon serving eight years on the post.
Insiders say speculations that the DG had no plan to leave gained traction when he recently informed some senior staff of the corporation of the existence of a letter from the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation granting him the discretion to either leave or stay on till further notice.
But when contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Shaibu said he had broken no law by remaining in office beyond his retirement date.
“My formal career as a civil servant has expired,” he said. “I have retired from service. But, I am serving a political appointment as acting DG of FRCN.”
What appears an official endorsement of the acting DG’s action, insiders say, came with the approval by Mr. Maku, early in May, for Mr. Shaibu to represent Nigeria in Ireland at an international workshop on Media Development and Politics for Media Practitioners scheduled for Dundalk between July 22 and 26, more than a month after the date he should have retired from service.
Mr. Maku could not be reached for comments. His Special Assistant (Media), Joseph Mutah, did not respond to calls and text message to his phone seeking comment on why the minister approved the trip and is encouraging the FRCN boss to stay on.
In an interview with this paper, Mr. Shaibu justified his continuous stay in office, saying he was just following a precedent set in the recent past when some retired officials of the station were recalled to serve as DG.
He specifically mentioned Yusuf Nuhu, Eddie Iroh, and Kevin Ejiofor, as those recalled from retirement to head the station.
“My critics are just being mischievous by accusing me of refusing to go,” Mr. Shaibu said. “People are just talking from half information. If one wants to be emotional, the former man who was there before me was Hausa-Fulani, who was brought from retirement. Are there two rules for Nigeria – one for Hausa-Fulani and another for the minorities? I don’t think so.”
He added, “People who are talking are those who believe they must rule FRCN forever. But, Nigeria is a country of six geo-political zones. Nigeria is not owned by Hausa-Fulani, who have serially ruled or ruined FRCN for several years, neither is it owned by Igbo or Yoruba. It is owned by all Nigerians.”
Below are excerpts from the interview with Shaibu:
PREMIUM TIMES (PT): You are supposed to retire on June 22, yet you have approval from the Minister of Information to travel to Ireland to represent the country on July 22. Why is that the case?
SS: It is so because I have finished my retirement from service, but I am now acting DG, and that is political appointment. And the antecedents are these. The former DG who left before me was brought from retirement. Eddie Iroh was brought from retirement, and then Kevin Ejiofor was brought from retirement. The DG’s position is a political appointment. So, people are just being mischievous saying what they are saying. There are antecedents. But, my former career as a civil servant has expired. And I am acting DG, and there are antecedents. You know if you want to go emotional, the former man who finished before me was Hausa-Fulani. He was brought from retirement to serve as DG. Are there two rules in Nigeria – one for the minority and one for the Hausa-Fulani? There was an Igbo man, who was brought from retirement too (Kevin Ejiofor) and Eddie Iro. So, people are just talking about what they don’t understand.
For further information, the assignment I am going is funded by Chinese Government and not by Federal Government. So, people are just talking from half information.
PT: The recent fire incident in the studio at the corporation, how was it handled? Any report of the probe?
SS: The fire incident was teleguided by detractors who feel they should create a crisis situation for somebody they feel is not a team player. For your information, I am not a team player in corruption. I am acting DG for three months now, and if you ask the workforce, they would tell you there is an added difference. Within these three months, I have bought a bus for FRCN. Within these three months, 22 studios that were conduit pipes for corruption in FRCN have been resuscitated, and there is light there now. And if I have opportunity of meeting with you, I will give you a catalogue of achievements. This has not happened for the past 15 years. But, people who are corrupt in our system would not like to see the likes of me. For example, there are people being teleguided from the Legal Department and Admin who are beneficiaries of corruption in the system.
PT: There is an allegation that you don’t carry everyone along, particularly on issues of staff welfare?
SS: As a journalist, if you can please ask the workforce, through independent investigation, the people who ruled before me, who were carrying people along, what did they do? In these three months time of my tenureship, I have paid more T&B (travelling and basic tours allowance) than any other person in the last two years. Records are there for all to see.
PT: It is said that you employed over 125 people and ignored the people employed in 2012, yet there are no offices and tools for them to work with?
SS: That employment was done by the previous regime that I inherited. The former DG, Barrister Yusuf Nuhu is the one who employed people, and that employment, to be fair to him, I don’t want to condemn my predecessors, was a collective decision of management. I have not employed a single person since I came.
The former DG employed, I don’t know the specific figure. That is what I inherited. So, people are just peddling this. These are people who believe they must rule FRCN forever. And Nigeria is a country of six geo-political zones. I am saying this, not as a slight to any tribe, because I know that Nigeria is a partnership of six geo-political zones. Nigeria is not owned by Hausa-Fulani, neither is it owned by Igbo or Yoruba. It is owned by all Nigerians. There six geo-political zones in this country. The Hausa-Fulani has serially ruled FRCN, or ruined FRCN all these years. Thank you very much.