By Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The Senate and the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), have both directed the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) to reinstate the five directors of the agency that were sacked last year.
PTADâ€™s Executive Secretary, Sharon Ikeazo, had in March 2017 issued termination letters to Roz Ben-Okagbue, Director, Pension Support Services Department; Taiwo Ogundipe, Director, Parastatals Pension Department; Uloma Uruakpa, Director, Customs, Immigrations and Prisons Pension Department; Godson Ukpevo, Director, Civil Service Pension Department, and Atiku Dambatta Saleh of the Police Pension Department.
She had stated that the employments of the directors were infractions of the public service rule, which states that an applicant must not be over 50 years of age at the time of recruitment.
Dissatisfied with the action of the Executive Secretary, the aggrieved directors petitioned the Senate and the Office of the SGF. Their argument was that they responded to a job vacancy advertisement published by Michael Stevens, a reputable consulting firm, which was engaged by the agency in the recruitment process, and that at no time in the recruitment process was the issue of age stated as a qualifying factor.
The directors argued further that they were recruited from reputable organisations and engaged under a valid contract duly approved by the Ministry of Finance that supervises the agency and the Federal Character Commission.
Consequently, the Senate at its sitting on January 23, 2018, considered the report of the petitioners for unfair termination of appointment by the directorate and resolved that â€œin view of the fact that the nation is battling to have its citizens actively engaged in gainful employment, the appointments of the four Directors (Atiku Saleh and three others) be regularized by converting them to contract staff, especially as their conversion would not be a breach to the Public Service Rules.â€
In a resolution made available to THISDAY, the Senate consequently wrote to PTAD and the SGF on January 26, 2018 – in two separate letters signed by M.A Sani-Omolori, Clerk to the National Assembly and directed the implementation of its resolution.
The OSGF had earlier in October and November 2017 written similar letters to PTADâ€™s Executive Secretary directing the reinstatement of the affected directors on contract rather than pensionable employment as had earlier been recommended by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, OHCSF in the later staff audit report.