RE: APPOINTMENT OF DAME (DR.) PATIENCE JONATHAN AS PERMANENT SECRETARY BYTHE BAYELSA STATE GOVERNMENT; SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT
We note with concern the reactions and commentaries that have greeted the recent announcement of the name of the wife of the President of Nigeria, Her Excellency, Dame Patience Jonathan, among the list of 19 public servants who were on July 11th appointed Permanent Secretaries in Bayelsa State. Whereas the action taken by our government in this regard was strictly done based on our convictions as it relates to matters that we consider to be in the best interest of our state, we do however, recognize the fundamental right of Nigerians to know and ask questions about the wife of their President. We want to believe that Nigerians’ reactions to the promotion were in good faith but what has become clear however is that many people lack adequate information on the subject matter and hence the urgent need for government to set the records straight. In connection with the above, government wishes to state as follows;
1. Unknown to a number of people the firstlady, Dame Patience Jonathan joined the Rivers State civil service in the 90’s and upon the election of her husband as Deputy Governor in 1999 transferred her service to the civil service of Bayelsa State.
.2. She rose through the ranks of the public service of Bayelsa State and was last appointed into the directorate cadre as alevel 15 officer in 2005.
3. By the traditions of the Bayelsa State civil service, officers on directorate level, some of whom are even junior to her present position have been appointed as Permanent Secretaries before now. Even among the list of those currently appointed, not all of them are the most senior officers. Appointment is a combination of leadership, output,dedication, geographical spread etc which informs a Governor’s exercise of his discretionary powers to appoint Permanent Secretaries in consultation with the appropriate authorities.
4. We want to place it on record that His Excellency, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, is convinced firstly, that wives of Governors, Vice Presidents, Presidents and allother spouses whose positions are not recognized by the laws of the Country and are not funded by the Government should be encouraged and supported to pursue and maintain their independent careers. Happily, there are several instances in this country where wives of presidents, governors, national assembly members etc have gained recognition and have been rewarded in their chosen careers.
.5. His Excellency believes that wives ofsuch public officers should not suffer prejudices or deprivation merely as aresult of the positions occupied by their husbands.
6. We believe that in this particular instance, her services to the development of Bayelsa State and Nigeria as wife of a Deputy Governor, Governor , Vice President and now President qualify as essential service which should be recognized and rewarded, not derided and denigrated on the altar of politics. 7. In the context of the on going general reforms of the Public Service of Bayelsa State, it is public knowledge that upon assumption of office, we have designed several means of promoting professionalism and weeding out fraud and other vices from the service. Infurtherance of this, government has sent a bill to criminalize various forms of fraudulent practices in the public service. A situation where previous governments in Bayelsa State did not take the right actions in ensuring that the first lady’s status be protected and regularized within the context of the civil service rules as an officer on leave of absence would lead to an embarrassment of the state, country and Presidency. Accordingly, in view of all these circumstances and in recognition of her services to the state and nation coupled with the fact that she is also a directorate level officer and further considering that the powers to appoint a Permanent Secretary by the Governor is vested in section 208 sub section 2c of the constitution, the Governor has exercised his discretion by including her in the list of 19 civil servants against whose nomination there are no complaints. This we think is the most rationale and sensible manner of handling the present situation created inadvertently by the in-attention of the previous government on this issue.
We thank you for your support, encouragement and cooperation and wish to assure the good people of Bayelsa State that we will take decisions and actions that would bein their best interest always.
Senior Special Assistant
(Media & Public Affairs) to Bayelsa State Governor