by Alexander O. Onukwue
News reports from the Aso Villa council chambers on Tuesday paid much focus on a heated moment between the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
Mrs Oyo-Ita, as wells as prominent members of President Buhari’s cabinet, has been at the centre of the embarrassment surrounding the reinstatement of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina. The scandal of Maina’s return to the civil service in September under her leadership had cast her in the light of an accomplice in the plot.
Oyo-Ita’s clash with Mr Kyari at the state house, in the view of members of the Federal Executive Council, was another unscripted part of the drama that has followed the Maina scandal. According to some accounts, the Head of Service wished to express her direct displeasure with the leak of her letter to Mr Kyari in which the President had been somewhat indicted in the reinstatement of Mr Maina.
By approaching him directly and creating the little scene that followed, Oyo-Ita certainly registered that displeasure to Kyari, but also made a more strenuous case for her innocence.
In her leaked letter, she had registered that she took the initiative of approaching President Buhari on the Maina matter on the sidelines of the FEC meeting of October 11, though she did not mention what had been the reaction or directive of the President. The effect of her attempt was that when the President demanded the dismissal of Maina 12 days later, it was not necessarily from a point of ignorance, having been aware of the matter at least a week before public outcry led him to act.
As one of the lower-ranked personnel involved in the affair, Mrs Oyo-Ita’s job would seem to be the one with the most to lose without a proper defence of themselves. The Ministers of Justice and Interior, Abubakar Malami and Abdulrahman Dambazau, have not received as much direct heat as she has. With the President’s reluctance to carry out any sort of change of his Ministers, it appears unlikely that either one – or the DG of the DSS, Lawal Daura, who is also complicit to some extent – would be affected. Hence, it has been imperative for the Head of Service that she backs up her story to the T.
More for the sake of credibility, Oyo-Ita’s confrontation of Kyari was a move that expresses her desire to protect her name. It is her duty as Head of Service to take responsibility for any misdemeanor that is perpetrated in the Civil Service, even if disciplinary measures are for the Federal Civil Service Commission to determine