There is palpable tension within the rank of directors in the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) over the appointment of a new director of FCT Treasury which has lingered for about one year and four months.
LEADERSHIP Sunday investigations revealed that aggrieved directors who consider themselves qualified for the position are expressing their frustration about the delay in the appointment of mandate secretaries to oversee various secretariats since the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello resumed for a second term in November 2020.
They accused the minister of nepotism in the pending appointment of a director for the Treasury department of the FCTA.
It was gathered that drama started when a former director, Alhaji Salawu Adigun Lawal, took over from his supposed predecessor, Alhaji Isyaku Ismaila, who retired as the director, FCT Treasury, in March 2020.
Lawal was said to have deliberately been refused confirmation so as to prevent him (Adigun) from exercising the full powers of the director of Treasury until the minister’s preferred candidate is appointed.
Although Adigun retired six months ago, the FCT administration is yet to appoint a substantive director to run the affairs of the directorate which serves as the engine room of the FCTA, thus hampering productivity.
The development, according to sources, including contractors and some staff, is unprecedented in the history of FCTA.
They said approval for various projects is being done by the minister and the permanent secretary, a situation that is hindering the pace of activities in the FCTA.
A staff of the directorate who simply gave his name only as Ademola for fear of being penalized said, “The delay by the honourable minister to appoint secretaries for mandate secretariats has hindered optimal performance of activities of the FCT. It has made all approvals concentrated in the hands of the minister, thus slowing government activities.”
While the aggrieved directors have reportedly accused the minister of delaying the process on ethnic grounds, further findings revealed that they have since taken their complaint to the National Assembly, which is presently probing the allegation.
The FCT minister, however, countered their claim, insisting that he has no preferred candidate in whatever position there is to be filled in the administration.
Bello stated that every qualified person would be given a fair opportunity to emerge.
LEADERSHIP Sunday also gathered that the affected directors in the FCTA have, on their part, vowed to resist any attempt by the minister to favour a lesser candidate for the position,
Our correspondent gathered that one of the directors who visited the National Assembly to intimate members of the committees on FCT, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, accused the minister of attempt to appoint one of the directors in the treasury department, Mr Damboa Malum.
Malum was said to have been promoted to the position of director in 2018 to join over 16 other directors who were promoted to directorate cadre long before him but are allegedly been sidelined, a development they said is unsettling the department.
According to the director, whose name was not given, the minister had allegedly hinted that the next director would be appointed after a selection examination for the directors in the department.
He, however, said some competent accountants who are on the directorate cadre and qualified for the position would decline participation in the forthcoming exam, citing bias.
A staff at the permanent secretary’s office who confirmed what he described as “the battle for who gets what and how’’ said the directors questioned the integrity of the said examination, alleging that Damboa may be unduly favoured as the “minister’s candidate.”
The staff who did not want his name in print for fear of being sanctioned revealed that the aggrieved directors further argued that the planned selection examination for candidates jostling for the position was against the convention of appointing the most senior and qualified director from the department.
He also acknowledged that President Muhammadu Buhari had since approved names to be announced as mandate secretaries but the minister is yet to release the list.
When LEADERSHIP Sunday contacted the director, Human Resources Department, FCTA, Muhammed Bashir, he said the minister has no preferred candidate in the appointment into any available position.
He said, “I have no right to speak on this. It is the permanent secretary that has the purview to speak on the issue. I am handicapped. All I can say is that the appointment is made by the minister, through the recommendation of the permanent secretary.”
However, another staff of the Treasury Department who pleaded not to be named said, “The director position of the Treasury Department is not completely vacant as it is being presented. The process of appointing a director in the FCT goes to the most senior officer of a department. But in this case, which is rare, we have a tie; we have almost four people who were promoted to director positions in the previous promotions.
“Although, one of them happens to be the most senior, he still needs the minister’s nod. The challenge here is that the minister’s preferred candidate whose records shows prudence is the second next to the most senior officer.”
He further explained that in the civil service, it is not always automatic that the most senior person must be the head of the department, as the discretion still lies with the minister in charge.
He stated: “But in doing so, for his decision not to be misinterpreted, if I were in his shoes, the first thing to do is to transfer the most senior person to another department as a director to make way for the trusted person next in line to take charge, rather than allowing the position to be completely vacant for a long time.
“Because it is not a must that he remains in that department to become a director. If anybody has some questionable records, the minister can post him out. It happened in the security department.”
LEADERSHIP Sunday also learnt that the House of Representatives Committee on Federal Capital Territory has waded into the conflict arising from the delay in the appointment.
It was gathered that chairman of the House Committee, Abdullahi Garba (APC-Niger), has already called for petitions from aggrieved directors at the Ministry of FCT.