Despite attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 last Saturday, the acting Director General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Samson Shaibu, says he is in no hurry to step down, in what appears a bold defiance of the country’s Civil Service rule.
Mr. Shaibu’s decision to remain in office beyond his retirement date has angered not a few senior officials at the station, the Federal Ministry of Information and the presidency, who accused Information Minister Labaran Maku of encouraging the acting DG to sit tight in office.
The critics spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on condition of anonymity for fear they might be victimised by the administration.
By the rule, Mr. Shaibu should have commenced his pre-retirement leave in March, preparatory to his disengagement from service on June 22 when he turned 60.
But shortly before then, in February, he was asked to take over the running of the publicly owned station from the former DG, Yusuf Nuhu, whose tenure expired. Mr. Shaibu was the most senior director in the Corporation at the time.
However, more than a week after he should have compulsorily retire from office, the acting DG is still hanging around and running the corporation in violation of service rule, which stipulates that all categories of workers in the public service shall compulsorily retire at 60 or after serving for 35 years, whichever is earlier.
The only exemptions are judicial officers and members of the Academic Staff of Universities who are entitled to retire at 70 and 65 years respectively. The law specifically says that a director shall compulsorily retire upon serving eight years on the post.
Insiders say speculations that the DG had no plan to leave gained traction when he recently informed some senior staff of the corporation of the existence of a letter from the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation granting him the discretion to either leave or stay on till further notice.
But when contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Shaibu said he had broken no law by remaining in office beyond his retirement date.
“My formal career as a civil servant has expired,” he said. “I have retired from service. But, I am serving a political appointment as acting DG of FRCN.”
What appears an official endorsement of the acting DG’s action, insiders say, came with the approval by Mr. Maku, early in May, for Mr. Shaibu to represent Nigeria in Ireland at an international workshop on Media Development and Politics for Media Practitioners scheduled for Dundalk between July 22 and 26, more than a month after the date he should have retired from service.
Mr. Maku could not be reached for comments. His Special Assistant (Media), Joseph Mutah, did not respond to calls and text message to his phone seeking comment on why the minister approved the trip and is encouraging the FRCN boss to stay on.
In an interview with this paper, Mr. Shaibu justified his continuous stay in office, saying he was just following a precedent set in the recent past when some retired officials of the station were recalled to serve as DG.
He specifically mentioned Yusuf Nuhu, Eddie Iroh, and Kevin Ejiofor, as those recalled from retirement to head the station.
“My critics are just being mischievous by accusing me of refusing to go,” Mr. Shaibu said. “People are just talking from half information. If one wants to be emotional, the former man who was there before me was Hausa-Fulani, who was brought from retirement. Are there two rules for Nigeria – one for Hausa-Fulani and another for the minorities? I don’t think so.”
He added, “People who are talking are those who believe they must rule FRCN forever. But, Nigeria is a country of six geo-political zones. Nigeria is not owned by Hausa-Fulani, who have serially ruled or ruined FRCN for several years, neither is it owned by Igbo or Yoruba. It is owned by all Nigerians.”