by Isi Esene
Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, says she plans to discharge her duties as permanent secretary from her base in Abuja and not Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Dame Jonathan was on Wednesday appointed as Permanent Secretary in the Bayelsa State Civil Service by the state governor, Seriake Dickson. Many observers however viewed her appointment as a pay-back gesture by the governor to the first lady who is believed to be instrumental to his choice as PDP’s gubernatorial candidate in Bayelsa State ahead of other more recognized political personalities.
Unlike others who were appointed with the first lady, she will hold her office in absentia.
Ayo Osinlu, Mrs. Jonathan’s spokesman, told Premium Times that she is on a leave of absence and she’s not planning on functioning substantively as permanent secretary.
He also said that she will also not receive any perk for the office.
“It will be illegal for her to draw salary from the office,”Osinlu said.
The president’s wife, who left the Bayelsa State civil service 13 years ago after her husband became the deputy governor of the state, was elevated to the position usually reserved for senior civil servants.
Governor Seriake Dickson said he made the appointment in line with the constitutional powers conferred on his office.
Before now, permanent secretaries were chosen among the ranks of senior civil servant but the rules have changed to accommodate anyone the governor of the state so chooses.
“Those days, only the most senior director in the ministry will succeed an outgoing permanent secretary,” a retired permanent secretary who sought anonymity said.
Mrs. Jonathan, a native of Okrika in Rivers State, had worked both in the Rivers and Bayelsa States Civil Service up till 1999 when her husband was elected deputy governor.
Osinlu, declined to confirm her rank before leaving the state’s civil service to embark on her current leave of absence.