As It Happened: Maina: Commotion in Aso Rock as Abba Kyari confronts Head of Service, Oyo-Ita
The weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting which started after the swearing-in of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and the launch of the 2018 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Emblem witnessed a mild drama as Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, and Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, were involved in a shouting match.
Before the arrival of President Muhammadu Buhari at about10:40am for the three assignments, including the swearing in, the Emblem launch and the FEC, the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita was seen in a very unusual mood.
The Council Chamber, which was filled to the brim, had in attendance the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Service Chiefs and Ministers, among others.
As the dignitaries waited for the President to arrive, the HoS and Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, were engaged in an animated discussion, with the Vice President listening.
Although the reason for the seemingly gloomy mood of the Head of Service was not known, it might not be unconnected with the leak of a memo she had recently sent to President Buhari in respect of the controversial recall of sacked chairman of Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.
*** HoS, Kyari in verbal tango
However, sources at the meeting said the HoS, on arriving the chamber, greeted the Chief of Staff to the President who, reportedly said he would query her for saying she met with the President over Maina and that she must answer the query with photographic evidence of her meeting with the President.
Kyari said he would query her today (yesterday) and that she must reply the query with photographic evidence of her meeting with the President over the Maina issue.
The source said: “When the HoS entered the chamber, venue of the FEC meeting, she greeted the Chief of Staff to the President where he was seated. But he said he would query her today (yesterday) and that she must reply the query with photographic evidence of her meeting with the President over the Maina issue that same yesterday.
“At this point, the HoS asked the Chief of Staff if he sees the President with a photographer to take pictures, so she could have photo evidence and write so that memos would be flying everywhere. In a fit of anger, the HoS wanted to know why the Chief of Staff was always picking on her, asking him what she did to him.
“She angrily proceeded to where the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, was seated, to complain to him about what the Chief of Staff was doing to her.”
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, later joined the conversation after which the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, was seen calming down the Head of Service.
She was later asked to return to her seat by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Femi Ipaye, when it was now obvious all eyes were fixed on them.
*** Oyo-Ita’s leaked memo
Recall that a national daily had recently quoted Oyo-Ita, in the leaked memo, as saying that Buhari was aware of the reinstatement of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.
Oyo-Ita was also quoted to have stated that she had warned the President against the controversial recall of the embattled former pension boss.
Oyo-Ita proceeded to where the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, was seated, to complain to him about what the Chief of Staff was doing to her.
In the wake of the condemnation that trailed the recall and double promotion of Maina, President Buhari had ordered his immediate disengagement 24 hours after Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), admitted that Maina, was posted to the Ministry of Interior by the Office of the Head of Service in acting capacity to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of the Director heading the Human Resources Department in the Ministry.
Maina was in 2013 recommended for dismissal by the Federal Civil Service Commission, based on recommendation by the Office of the Head of Service.
In 2012, Maina was accused of leading a massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100 billion.
He was drafted by the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2010 to sanitize a corrupt pension system.
Based on the allegation of corruption, Mr. Maina was invited by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Service and Establishment and State and Local Government Administration.