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Illegal appointment: Perm. Sec., Federal Ministry of Agriculture under fire

Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), is under a serious attack by members of the Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN).

In its letter, signed by Taiwo Adeoye, ASAN President, dated 29 March, 2019 and addressed to the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Abuja, members complained about the Per Sec’s 27 February 2019 removal of the Acting Director of the Department of Animal Husbandry Services (DAHS), Mrs. Funke Omagbemi, a Registered Animal Scientist (RAS) and her replacement with Dr. Bright Wategire, an Agricultural Economist who was serving as Director (PSO). At the time, Watergire was serving in the office of the Permanent Secretary.

There was a lingering issue of professional rivalry especially between Veterinary Doctors and Animal Scientists. To tackle the problem, Mrs. Winifred E. Oyo-Ita, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), in her letter dated 17th December, 2012 Reference No. OHCSF/MOS/93/vol.III/40 approved a new organizational structure for FMARD. Similarly in February, 2015 the Head of Civil Service of the Federation approved the restructuring of FMARD into 19 Departments.

In the new structure, two separate Departments, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services and Department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services were created from the defunct Federal Department of Livestock and Pest Control Services to enable the respective professionals chart their careers in the Departments relevant to their training and knowledge.

However, these gains were truncated by the Perm Sec as stated above. As revealed by Adeoye, at that time, ASAN pointed out the implications to the Head of Service of the Federation, which also are very relevant to the latest development, as follows: That this posting is in clear contravention of Public Service Rules 020506 (ii) which states that: posting of officers within the Ministry to post outside their professional cadres should be prohibited. That this posting is also a contravention of the Schedule of Service which clearly states the entry requirement Livestock Officer/Livestock Development Officer cadre to be a bachelor degree in Agriculture with options in Animal Science, Animal Production, Animal Husbandry and Range Management disciplines.

That this posting is in clear contravention of Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) Law section 4(2)) which clearly specifies that only a Registered Animal Scientist is appointed as Director of the Department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services.

That the posting is viewed as a deliberate attempt to revive an over 40 year old industrial disharmony that culminated in the split of the defunct Federal Department of Livestock and Pest Control Services into two. That this posting is viewed as a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the office of HOCSOF that gave approval for the restructuring of the Ministry aimed at enhancing efficiency, productivity and stemming of industrial disharmony in the bureaucracy.

To address this anomaly, the Association took the following steps:

(i) The Executive members of the Association in company of the Council members of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) paid a visit to the Permanent Secretary FMA&RD who rebuffed all entreaties aimed at resolving the matter.

(ii) On the strength of that, the Association in her letter Ref no. ASAN/FMARD/01 of 8th February, 2016 explained to the Honorable Minister the implication of this posting as it affected Animal Agriculture in general.

(iii) Similarly, the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) in her letter reference No. NIAS/SEC/S.1/4 of February, 2016 wrote to the Hon. Minister on the implication of this anomalous posting and its attendant effect on professionalism and the industry.
(iv) Also the Association wrote to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of Service of the Federation, Permanent Secretary FMA&RD, Honorable Minister of Labour and Employment, etc.


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9. On the whole the Association got responses from the following:
(i) In the letter of OHCSF addressed to the Permanent Secretary FMA&RD Ref No. HCSF/EPI/EIR/RR/37289/Vol. 11/55 of 15th March, 2016, the action of the Permanent Secretary was totally condemned and he was asked to reverse the posting.
(ii) Similarly, the Federal Civil Service Commission in her letter Ref No. FCSC/CHMN/OC/017/Vol.X/189 of 27th April, 2016 totally condemned the action of the Permanent Secretary and requested him to reverse the posting.

(iii) Also in her response, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations Department convened a top level conciliation meeting between ASAN and FMARD were in attendance were Directors from OHCSF, Federal Civil Service Commission, Director, Human Resources Department FMARD, etc on 10th May, 2016.

In her letter Ref No. MLHF/1511/T2/276 of 23rd May, 2016. the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity conveyed the findings and decisions at the meeting to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The latter was given two (2) months i.e. up till July 28, 2016 within which to implement the recommendations in the interest of industrial harmony.

(iv)Also the Hon. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief AuduOgbe in his letter to the Permanent Secretary, directed him to halt arbitrary postings and reverse those earlier done.

10. Consequent on the veracity of these directives and the above stated extant law and regulations, the then Permanent Secretary was compelled to install a Registered Animal Scientist as Director of DAHS vide letter to understudy the outgoing Director Ref No. AGR907/1/68 of 16th December, 2016. In addition, the Ministry vide letter Ref No. DAPHS/S.61/117/II/18 of 11th May, 2017 reverted to the OHCSF and stated clearly that qualified Animal Scientist had been appointed as Director of DAHS.

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Thankfully, the Livestock industry soon began to thrive through ingenious and professional inputs of the erstwhile Acting Director, Mr. John ToyinTaiwo who retired from active service on 4th November, 2018.

However, despite the restoration of peace and normalcy to DAHS and the Ministry as a result of the foregoing, Adeoye wrote that the current Permanent Secretary, “soon on assumption of office in the Ministry reverted to the chaotic past by wittingly breaching the directives that emanated from the interventions. The Acting Director of DAHS who took over from the outgone Acting Director, was unceremoniously replaced by a non Animal Scientist in clear contravention of extant law of NIAS, provisions of the Scheme of Services, the Public Service Rules and the various directives from relevant agencies of Government.”

According to Adeoye, ASAN deems it more worrisome the obstinate poise of the Permanent Secretary, who rebuffed the Association’s attempts both in person and vide letter Reference No. ASAN/FMLP/001/2019 and dated 4th March, 2019 to make him see reasons to rescind his decision.


Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD)

See the full leeter to ICPC below

Ref. No: NASAN/W/200/24Date: 29th March, 2019
The Chairman,
Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)
Plot 802, Constitution Avenue,
Central District,
Abuja.

Dear Sir,

CASE OF ADMINISTRATIVE IMPUNITY BY DR. MOHAMMED BELLO UMAR, PERMANENT SECRETARY, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, ABUJA

The Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN) is a registered body of Animal Scientists in Nigeria with the cardinal objective of uplifting the practice of Animal Production and the Livestock Industry as well as the protection and promotion of the interest and welfare of all its members.

2. The Association wishes to call the esteemed attention of the Chairman, ICPC to an act of administrative impunity and absolute disregard to the rule of law and statutory provisions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria being perpetrated by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), DR. MOHAMMED BELLO UMAR.

3. In what was considered a brash move and barely a month after assuming office in the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary announced to the Top Management Meeting of 27th February, 2019, the removal of the Acting Director of the Department of Animal Husbandry Services (DAHS), Mrs. Funke Omagbemi, a Registered Animal Scientist (RAS). He went ahead to announce her replacement with Dr. Bright Wategire, an Agricultural Economist who was serving as Director (PSO) in the office of the Permanent Secretary.

4. We wish to humbly bring to your notice sir, that the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) in her letter dated 17th December, 2012 Reference No. OHCSF/MOS/93/vol.III/40 (Annexure I) approved a new organizational structure for FMARD. Similarly in February, 2015 the Head of Civil Service of the Federation approved the restructuring of FMARD into nineteen (19) Departments, partly to address the lingering issue of professional rivalry especially between Veterinary Doctors and Animal Scientists. In the new structure, two (2) separate Departments, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services and Department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services were created from the defunct Federal Department of Livestock and Pest Control Services to enable the respective professionals chart their careers in the Departments relevant to their training and knowledge.

5. As a result of this, competent professionals (Registered Animal Scientists) were appointed to head the newly created Department of Animal Husbandry Services with attendant positive impacts on Animal agriculture, the Livestock industry and the Nigeria economy at large. This was a clear departure from almost five decades of suppression of these professionals who were subsumed in the defunct Department of Livestock and Pest Control Services. The suppression which ensure that no Animal Scientist rose to the rank of Director in the 50 years of history of the old Department relegated Animal Scientists and any meaningful sustainable Livestock development to the background.

6. However, the gains so far achieved was truncated first by internal circular Ref. No. FMA/PS/26/111/138 dated 5th February 2016, on the deployment of professional Directors GL 17 in FMARD, and secondly by the latest incidence of 27th February, 2019. At the first instance, the Director of the Federal Department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services (FDAP & HS), Dr. AdemolaRaji, the first Animal Scientist ever to become a Director in the 50 years of history of the Ministry was removed and replaced by a Veterinary Director (Dr. Mrs. EgejuruEze) who clearly belonged to a different service cadre (Veterinary Officer) in the Ministry.

7. At that time, ASAN pointed out the implications to the Head of Service of the Federation, which also are very relevant to the latest development, as follows:-

(i) That this posting is in clear contravention of Public Service Rules 020506 (ii) which states that: posting of officers within the Ministry to post outside their professional cadres should be prohibited (Annexure II).

(ii) that this posting is also a contravention of the Schedule of Service which clearly states the entry requirement Livestock Officer/Livestock Development Officer cadre to be a bachelor degree in Agriculture with options in Animal Science, Animal Production, Animal Husbandry and Range Management disciplines (Annexure III).

(iii) That this posting is in clear contravention of Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) Law section 4(2)) which clearly specifies that only a Registered Animal Scientist is appointed as Director of the Department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services(Annexure IV).

(iv) That the posting is viewed as a deliberate attempt to revive an over 40 year old industrial disharmony that culminated in the split of the defunct Federal Department of Livestock and Pest Control Services into two.

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(v) That this posting is viewed as a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the office of HOCSOF that gave approval for the restructuring of the Ministry aimed at enhancing efficiency, productivity and stemming of industrial disharmony in the bureaucracy.

8. To address this anomaly, the Association took the following steps:
(i) The Executive members of the Association in company of the Council members of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) paid a visit to the Permanent Secretary FMA&RD who rebuffed all entreaties aimed at resolving the matter.
(ii) On the strength of that, the Association in her letter Ref no. ASAN/FMARD/01 of

8th February, 2016 (Annexure V) explained to the Honorable Minister the implication of this posting as it affected Animal Agriculture in general.
(iii) Similarly, the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) in her letter reference No. NIAS/SEC/S.1/4 of February, 2016 wrote to the Hon. Minister on the implication of this anomalous posting and its attendant effect on professionalism and the industry (Annexure VI).

(iv) Also the Association wrote to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of Service of the Federation, Permanent Secretary FMA&RD, Honorable Minister of Labour and Employment, etc.

9. On the whole the Association got responses from the following:
(i) In the letter of OHCSF addressed to the Permanent Secretary FMA&RD Ref No. HCSF/EPI/EIR/RR/37289/Vol. 11/55 of 15th March, 2016 (Annexure VII), the action of the Permanent Secretary was totally condemned and he was asked to reverse the posting.

(ii) Similarly, the Federal Civil Service Commission in her letter Ref No. FCSC/CHMN/OC/017/Vol.X/189 of 27th April, 2016 (Annexure VIII) totally condemned the action of the Permanent Secretary and requested him to reverse the posting.
(iii) Also in her response, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations Department convened a top level conciliation meeting between ASAN and FMARD were in attendance were Directors from OHCSF, Federal Civil Service Commission, Director, Human Resources Department FMARD, etc on 10th May, 2016.

In her letter Ref No. MLHF/1511/T2/276 of 23rd May, 2016 (Annexure IX). The Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity conveyed the findings and decisions at the meeting to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The latter was given two (2) months i.e. up till July 28, 2016 within which to implement the recommendations in the interest of industrial harmony.

(iv)Also the Hon. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief AuduOgbe in his letter to the Permanent Secretary, directed him to halt arbitrary postings and reverse those earlier done.

10. Consequent on the veracity of these directives and the above stated extant law and regulations, the then Permanent Secretary was compelled to install a Registered Animal Scientist as Director of DAHS vide letter to understudy the outgoing Director Ref No. AGR907/1/68 of 16th December, 2016 (Annexure XA). In addition, the Ministry vide letter Ref No. DAPHS/S.61/117/II/18 of 11th May, 2017 (Annexure XB)reverted to the OHCSF and stated clearly that qualified Animal Scientist had been appointed as Director of DAHS.

Thankfully, the Livestock industry soon began to thrive through ingenious and professional inputs of the erstwhile Acting Director, Mr. John ToyinTaiwo who retired from active service on 4th November, 2018.

11. Inspite of the restoration of peace and normalcy to DAHS and the Ministry as a result of the foregoing, the current Permanent Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar, soon on assumption of office in the Ministry reverted to the chaotic past by wittingly breaching the directives that emanated from the interventions. The Acting Director of DAHS who took over from the outgone Acting Director, was unceremoniously replaced by a non Animal Scientist in clear contravention of extant law of NIAS, provisions of the Scheme of Services, the Public Service Rules and the various directives from relevant agencies of Government.

12. Sir, ASAN deems it more worrisome the obstinate poise of the Permanent Secretary, who rebuffed the Association’s attempts both in person and vide letter Reference No. ASAN/FMLP/001/2019 and dated 4th March, 2019 (Annexure XI) to make him see reasons to rescind his decision.

13. Consequent upon this, the Association wishes to call the esteemed attention of the Chairman, ICPC to the following:

(i) The extant Act of the National Assembly stipulates that the ‘’Federal Director of Animal Husbandry Services Department shall be a Registered Animal Scientist in the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development’’ (Annexure XII). It is also noteworthy that the Act defines who is an Animal Scientist, as well as the procedure of enlistment into the rank of Registered Animal Scientist;

(ii) Additionally, the law confers on the Institute (NIAS) the regulation of Animal Science Discipline and Practice, and that the Director of Animal Husbandry Services shall be a member of the Council (Annexure XIII). It follows logically therefore that appointing a non Animal Scientist to the position of Federal Director of Animal Husbandry Services under any guise negates these laws;

(iii) Dr. Bright Boyowa Wategire’s promotion to the Director (Livestock) Cadre was predicated on a plea and gentleman’s agreement which allowed him to sit for his promotion examination in the Cadre to the rank of Director (Annexure XIV), with an undertaking by the Permanent Secretary that if promoted, he would be deployed to a relevant Department;

(iv) Dr. Bright BoyowaWategire has since been redesignated as Director (Agric Officer) with effect from 1st January, 2017, vide a circular of the Federal Civil Service Commission with Ref No. FC. 6243/S.II/Vol.XI/256 dated 28th November, 2018 (Annexure XV).

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(v) The above is in line with letter of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation to the Chairman Federal Civil Service Commission Ref No. HCSF/SPSO/ODD/64697/T2/V.IV/34 and dated 6th February, 2017 (Annexure XVI) which condemned recruitment of candidates with first degrees in Agricultural Economics and other disciplines not related to Animal Science to serve in DAHS contrary to the provisions of the scheme of service;

(vi) We also refer to a memo of the Federal Civil Service Commission on ‘’Wrong Posting of Professional Directors in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development: the case of Federal Department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services’’ with Ref. No. FMA/G061/S.1/00156 and dated 5th April, 2016 (Annexure XVII). Addressed to the HonourableMinister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the memo drew the attention of the Permanent Secretary to the fact that, ‘’The Commission noted that since a Deputy Director can head Employee Mobility Department at the Office of OHSF, in the same way, a professional Animal Science/husbandry Deputy Director can handle Ag. Capacity position, given his professional knowledge and wealth of adequate experience in the Ministry’’;

(vii) The Commission equally reiterated the fact that, it is in the interest of serving officers to serve in their relevant Departments/Cadres, as they belong to specific professional bodies. It added that not serving in their relevant professional Departments/Cadres may hinder their advancement and professional opportunities at the time they get to the Directorate Cadre. The Memo also stated that every professional Directorate practicing within the prescribed MDA. This aligns with the provision of section 02607 (iii) of the Public Service Rules which prohibits posting of officers within the Ministry to posts outside their professional cadres (see Annexure II);
(viii) It is therefore glaring that Dr. Bright BoyowaWategire is not a Registered Animal Scientist and has never practiced within the prescribed MDA. The Director of Animal Husbandry Services Department is equally expected to be a member of NIAS Council, and Dr. Bright BoyowaWategire is not qualified to serve as a member of our Council. Moreover, the officer has officially informed of the above stated facts by the Ministry vide an Internal Memo Ref. no. AGR/662/Vol.II/175 (Annexure XVIII).

14. The Association hereby reposes great confidence in the Chairman, ICPC to unearth this act of absolute disregard for the rule of law and constituted authority. As the statutory symbol of anti-corruption responsible for prohibiting and prescribing punishment for corrupt practices and other related offences, we hereby humbly and passionately request you to use your esteemed officestO:

(i) Investigate the aforementioned with a view of establishing the truth of the matter;
(ii) Call the Permanent Secretary of FMARD , Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar to order to respect the law of the land by re-instating Mrs. FunkeOmagbemi (Registered Animal Scientist) as the rightful head of the Department of Animal Husbandry Services in consonance with the above stated extant Act of Parliament as well as statutory provisions and directives.

15. Kindly accept, the Chairman ICPC, Sir the warmest regards of the entire membership of the Association.

TaiwoAdeoye: RAS, FNIAS, FCASN
President (ASAN)

………………..

DISCIPLINE AND APPEALS

FC 4029/S.45/C.15/61
9th May, 2019

The Honorable Minister,
Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,
Area 11, Secretariat,
Abuja.

RE: CASE OF ADMINISTRATIVE IMPUNITY BY DR. MOHAMMED BELLO UMAR, PERMANENT SECRETARY, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, ABUJA

I am directed to refer to the attached letter Ref No. NASAN/W/2002/21 dated 29th March from Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN) on the above stated subject, requesting the intervention of the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) to prevail on the Ministry to reinstate Mrs. FunkeOmagbemi, a Registered Animal Scientist, who was earlier removed as Head of the Department of Animal Husbandry Services (DAHS) and replaced with Dr. Bright Wategire, an Agricultural Economist serving as Director (PSO) in the Office of the Permanent Secretary.

2. It is noteworthy that the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation in its letter Ref. No. HCSF/EPO/EIR/RR/37289.Vol.55, dated 15th March 2016, provided guidelines for the effective deployment of professionals in the Ministry and stated inter-alia, that ‘‘it is irregular and an anomaly for a Veterinary Officer to be deployed to head the Department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services, when competent professionals in the field are available. Also, Veterinary Officers who were recruited by the Federal Civil Service Commission irregularly as Livestock Development Officers should be redesignated appropriately, and chart their career in the relevant Department’’. (Copy attached)

3. Arising from the foregoing, I am to request your kind intervention to review your earlier decision on the matter, with a view to encouraging career progression of officers in their respective cadres, consistent with above-stated guidelines from the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) and other relevant statutory provisions.

Accept please, the warm regards of the Honourable Chairman.

Ashasim, Y. B.
Deputy Director (Discipline and Appeals)
For: Honourable Chairman

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