New facts yesterday emerged on the reasons behind the appointment of the wife of the President, Dame Patience Jonathan as a Permanent Secretary in the State Civil Service by the administration of Hon. Seriake Dickson.
Dame Patience Jonathan was appointed based on political consideration and on the allocated slot of the home Council of her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan in Ogbia Local Government Council Area of the State.
While some critics of such move considered the action of Seriake Dickson as being done “under duress”, others said the alleged pressure by the Nigerian First Lady to be included in the new list of Permanent Secretaries is an admission of the fact that the President may not seek second term in office by 2015 and she may retire from the State Civil Service with the highest honour and position.
The appointment, according to some senior Civil Servants, activists and Politicians, lack in proper procedure and fraudulent as it exposes the fact that the wife of the President was promoted far above her rank in the Ministry of Education.
While some activists including members of the Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO), through its State Secretary, Comrade Morris Alagoa argued that though the details of her workings as a Civil Servant in the Ministry of Education is unknown, reports confirmed that she is on the payroll of the State Government since 1999 till date.
Investigations conducted among the staff of the Education Ministry, who pleaded anonymity, showed that though the position of the Permanent Secretary is the highest post in the Civil Service, the nomination of persons to occupy the position in the Bayelsa State is political.
According to them, anyone to be nominated as Permanent Secretary must have risen to the position of level 15, 16 or 17 in the service. The person must have also risen to attain the position of a Deputy Director and Director in the Ministry.
According to them, the decision of the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson was considered a political one and not voluntary. On the issue of secondment to serve alongside her husband, the respondents at the State Civil Service argued that if the issue of secondment was raised, it will amount to fraud, her role is purely ceremonial. The position of a Permanent Secretary is a permanent one and not to be used as a “dummy”.
In a statement issued and signed by the State Secretary of the Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO), Comrade Morris Alagoa stated that the news of the appointment of Nigeria’s first lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan as a Permanent Secretary was received with disbelief and a rude shock.
According to him,” Ordinarily there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with Mr. President’s wife being appointed a Permanent Secretary in any state of her origin or by marriage; as is the Bayelsa scenario.
While those who are claiming that Mrs. Patience Jonathan has been a Civil Servant in the state may be right, most Bayelsans are just hearing this side of her being a civil servant for the very first time; following her appointment as Perm Sec.”
“ The questions begging for answers from concerned Bayelsans are that: Was she on secondment or a leave of absence all these years? Has her name been featuring in the pay roll of the Bayelsa State government? Has she been part of the several staff audits that have taken place since, including the Biometrics conducted by the office of Due Process and e. Governance Bureau during Sylva’s administration?
Bayelsans would want to know because Mrs. Patience Jonathan must not be allowed to eat her cake and have it. Again, has she been going to work as a state civil servant? These questions are very important because we know that when Abdulsalami was the Head of State, his wife was working before then.
When Dr. Peter Odili was Governor of Rivers State, his wife, Justice Mary Odili was working. So, where was Patience Jonathan working when her husband was Deputy Governor?”
“This appointment of Patience Jonathan is one of the VERY first wrong steps of this new administration in the state. It may not be difficult for the government to cook up documents to take care of all the questions about her being a civil servant, but how did she rise through the ranks in the ministry? Permanent Secretary positions are not like Honourary degrees issued by Universities.
It follows real career development in Ministries; they are not even political appointments like the position of Commissioner. And, in view of the fact that a Permanent Secretary is supposed to be the engine room of any ministry, one thinks this lady would not fit such a position. The Governor should not set bad precedents like this.
It is a known fact that Dickson is really close to Mr. President, but if he thinks this is the best way to express appreciation of the closeness, the move is not only unacceptable but an opprobrium he has brought to Bayelsans”.
“For the fact that Mr. Patience Jonathan has been blessed by God to be the wife of one who has been a Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice-President and President; it is nothing but greed that will allow her accept that appointment; especially when juxtaposed with the fact that hundreds of Bayelsa State Graduates are walking the streets without jobs.
In the light of the above, no matter whatever angle this is viewed; morally, legally, politically and otherwise I consider it unacceptable. If we want to call her ghost worker; that may better suit the situation because it is clear that she won’t be reporting to the office as a normal Permanent Secretary would.
Besides, another ugly side of it is that even the commissioner in her ministry will be afraid of her; the Governor himself cannot query her by virtue of her influence in the state and country”.
“Apart from all other absurdities of this appointment, Mrs. Jonathan might be seen as the one in charge of the affairs of the state once she assumes that position. Governor Dickson himself will be compelled to answer to her with due respect if he happened to meet with Perm Secs in the state.
The appointment is unacceptable and a slap in the face of Bayelsans. And, unless the appointment is reversed; it could mean the beginning of many other false steps of Dickson to come. If he is out to fight corruption; then he would also know that there is something called moral bankruptcy which leads to other corrupt tendencies and practice. This could fall within that sphere.
Unless the Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson-led government is able to clearly and convincingly explain to Bayelsans the mystery surrounding this appointment and place same in perspective, this could be viewed as an act of fraud”.
“Our commonwealth should not be used to further widen the lacuna between the haves and have nots but allow for even spread to benefit even the unemployed, those below the poverty line, children, the physically challenged amongst us and the aged through well articulated social security schemes.
The expectations of the people should not be dashed with negative news where the rich will be getting richer and the poor poorer.”
Born in Port Harcourt, she earned her school certificate in 1976, and passed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in 1980.
In 1989, she obtained the National Certificate of Education (NCE) in Mathematics and Biology from the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt. She then proceeded to the University of Port Harcourt and studied Biology and Psychology.
Jonathan started her career as a teacher at the Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt and Sports Institute, Isake. She then moved to the banking sector in 1997, where she established the first community bank in Port Harcourt called the Akpo Community Bank.
She served as Marketing Manager of Imiete Community Bank. She returned to the classroom briefly again as teacher. Eventually she was transferred to the Bayelsa State Ministry of Education, where she served until 29 May 1999 when her husband became the Deputy Governor of the state.
On 12 July 2012, she became a permanent secretary in her native Bayelsa state. She and her husband have two children.