The Finance Minister is said to be very angry at the author and reportedly demanded his punishment.
The Nigerian government has moved against the spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Yushau Shuaib, over an article he published on PREMIUM TIMES considered critical of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
In the article, entitled “Still on Okonjo-Iweala over Controversial Appointments” and published by this newspaper on March 6, Mr. Shuaib alerted Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala “to some disturbing trends as regards some recent appointments into top public offices in Nigeria in view of their economic and political implications”.
Arguing that some of the minister’s appointments appeared to be lopsided, the writer urged her “to ensure that appointments into important positions should be done in credible and transparent manners that can withstand public scrutiny”.
That article has now angered Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala who we learnt has requested the Minister of Information and Communication, Labaran Maku, to discipline Mr. Shuaib, one of Nigeria’s most effective public relations practitioners in government employ.
Insiders in the Information Ministry said Mr. Shuaib has now been recalled from his post at NEMA.
He has also been queried over the article.
“He has been directed to explain why he should not be dismissed for criticising and antagonising a public officer,” one of our sources said.
Mr. Shuaib joined the Nigerian civil service in 1993 after he was offered automatic employment as part of a post-NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) presidential award he won.
Despite working for government, Mr. Shuaib has remained one of the most published commentators on public affairs in Nigeria, explaining government polices and subtly criticising public officials from time to time.
Mr. Shuaib could not be reached for comments Thursday, but insiders in the information ministry said this is the first time he would be queried over his writings.
The Finance Minister could also not be reached. Her spokesman, Paul Nwabuikwu, said she was out of the country; and declined to react to the issue on her behalf.
Mr. Maku has denied being asked by Ms. Okonjo-Iweala to punish Mr. Shuaib.
In an sms response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiries, Mr. Maku, through his spokesperson, Joseph Mutah, said Mr. Shuaib’s re-deployment was in order.
“The Honourable Minister of Finance didn’t authorise the redeployment and doesn’t have to do so. Such matters are within the purview of the Public Communication and Human Resources Depts,” he said.
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