·       Says Not Kogi Indigene; Lacks Requisite Qualification

Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs

A SENIOR Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Adam Umar Bako, has kicked against the appointment of Mrs Regina Ingekem Ocheni as Ambassadorial nominee for Kogi State; a protest letter to the national Assembly sighted by National Record reveals.

- Notice -

In the letter addressed to the President of the Senate, Bako cried out against the omission of his name from the list of ambassadorial nominees read out on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, 12th May 2020. He said as the most senior officer from Kogi State, his name, rather than that of Ocheni, whom he claims is from Cross River State, ought to be on the list.

By virtue of the Service wide extant regulation issued by the Federal Character Commission, an officer is prohibited from claiming the State of origin of her spouse for the purpose of any appointment. This standing rule is confirmed and reinforced by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation each time Permanent Secretary appointments are to be made,” Bako stated while making reference to two circulars; a 1997 circular from the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and a 2020 circular from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Bako, who hails from Koton Karfe LGA, Kogi West Senatorial District of Kogi State, alleged that though from Cross River State, Ocheni is married to an indigene of Kogi State, Dr Stephen Ocheni, who was former Minister of State for Labour and Employment.

Bako argued that Ocheni’s nomination as an indigene of Kogi State violates extant rules guiding appointment of career officers for ambassadorial position.

“Your Excellency may wish to note that Mrs Regina I. Ocheni is a native of Cross River but only married to Dr. Ocheni an Igala man from the East Senatorial District of Kogi State. By virtue of the Service wide extant regulation issued by the Federal Character Commission, an officer is prohibited from claiming the State of origin of her spouse for the purpose of any appointment. This standing rule is confirmed and reinforced by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation each time Permanent Secretary appointments are to be made,” Bako stated while making reference to two circulars; a 1997 circular from the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and a 2020 circular from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Both circulars which were attached to the protest letter to the senate underscored that marriage is not a requirement for state of origin in the case of female directors. Specifically, the circular by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated 13th February 2020, addressed to directors and all members of staff of the ministry, titled: “INDIGENOUS STATUS OF STAFF,” and signed by Mrs W. A. Adedeji, Acting Director, Administration, stated, among other things that: “Sequel to several complaints to the Postings and Passages Division arising from the indigenous status of Married female staff, I am directed to refer to Circular No. FCC/SEC/01013 dated 3rd October, 1997 issued by the Federal Character Commission which defines the indigenous status of married female staff in Public Service in Nigeria, inter alia “the indigenous status of a married woman is her state of origin and not the state of origin of her husband” and the Ministry’s earlier Circular ref No. 3/AS.24.S.I dated 1st March, 2011 on the above subject matter.” (Ministry’s emphasis)

According to Bako, Mrs Ocheni violated this rule by submitting a local government indigeneship certificate from Kogi State. “Indeed, the date on the Certificate and the date of its submission to the Ministry as part of her documentation are a pointer to the fact that it was hurriedly processed as a result of her desperation to sustain her misrepresentation of fact. The Ministry has a copy of it in her File,” Bako stated while further pointing out that Mrs Ocheni’s state of origin could be confirmed from, among other evidences, “her completed online visa application form when she applied for US visa, which clearly shows the detail particulars of her parents as indigenes of Cross River State” and “her documentations in every school she attended from the level of Primary to the Polytechnic.”

Nominee also lacks requisite qualification

Apart from the violation of existing protocol on state of origin, Bako also drew the Senate’s attention to other infractions he alleged may have been committed by Mrs Ocheni, particularly her not undergoing the mandatory training at the Foreign Service Academy by the nature of her entry into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the grade level she was given when she entered.

Bako stated: “Your Excellency, Mrs. Regina Ocheni’s case is not only bad, but incurably bad, given the circumstance surrounding her engagement into the Foreign Service. It will also interest you to know that Mrs. Regina Ocheni did not in the first place qualify to be in the Foreign Service for want of requisite academic qualification in the Scheme of Service as provided for by the law. She possesses an HND Certificate in Secretariat Study that is not recognized as a qualification for the job. More troubling is the fact that at the time she joined the Foreign Service, the Law harmonizing HND and First Degree had not been passed and accented to, meaning therefore, that she could only have been on Grade Level 14 which was the bar for all HND holders as at then.

“Additionally, Mrs. Regina Ocheni does not possess the requisite training as a Foreign Service Officer as she did not attend the Foreign Service Academy which is mandatory for Career progression. It is indeed a matter of concern that the authority has over the years inadvertently omitted to correct the wrongs surrounding Mrs. Ocheni’s appointment when all these facts were or should have been known to the authority. Had this been done, present inequity/potential injustice would have been averted regardless of the State she claims.”

“Another worrisome question that should be asked is how did she come into the Foreign Service on Grade Level 15 without additional qualification? It is not on record since the creation of the Ministry that an officer may be recruited on Grade Level 15 directly or through advertisement by the Federal Civil Service Commission. Her promotions till date have been undeserving accordingly. The law is that one cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. When a foundation is faulty, the structure collapses. Legally speaking therefore Sir, she is not in service. This is a very serious situation.

“Additionally, Mrs. Regina Ocheni does not possess the requisite training as a Foreign Service Officer as she did not attend the Foreign Service Academy which is mandatory for Career progression. It is indeed a matter of concern that the authority has over the years inadvertently omitted to correct the wrongs surrounding Mrs. Ocheni’s appointment when all these facts were or should have been known to the authority. Had this been done, present inequity/potential injustice would have been averted regardless of the State she claims.”

Mr Bako, while pleading with the Senate not to see his protest as confrontation, argued that allowing Mrs Ocheni’s “nomination to proceed to confirmation will occasion a great injustice to me, destroy morale and create bad blood in the Service.”

All efforts to reach the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speak on the matter failed as the contact number, 084 666 876, displayed on the ministry’s website was said not to exist.

- Notice -

1 COMMENT

  1. PHOTO OF MY BUSHY OFFICIAL QUARTERS, SWIMMING POOL AND ROTTEN BEDDINGS ATTACHED.

    THIS EDIFICE AND STRATEGIC BUILDING IN ABUJA IS MARRED BY HYPOCRISY, SYCOPHANCY, CONSPIRACY, DISPARITY, DISCRIMINATION, INHUMANE TREATMENTS OF NON REPRESENTATIONAL CADRE AND ABUSIVE APPLICATION OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE RULES ( PSR) FOREIGN SERVICE REGULATIONS (FSR) AND THE INTERNATIONAL PRACTICES AS ENSHRINED IN VIENNA CONVENTION.

    A COUNTER TO THE ARTICLE POSTED BY HumAngle titled:
    Exclusive: Foreign Affairs Ministry, Head of Service clash 0ver 1,000 workers.

    AMAZING DECAY IN THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS ABUJA.

    THERE WAS A THING CALLED DIPLOMATIC POSTING IN THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, ABUJA.(FOREIGN MISSION DUTY TOUR).
    A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE NOT A FALLACY OR PETITION.

    First, you call it a school, a journey or another phase of life. Though diplomatic posting is supposed to be one among the public service career, in essence a call to serve our fatherland and to represent the interest of your country. Hmmmm…. my experience during this diplomatic assignment has caused me to pose a lot of questions about the real meaning of diplomatic posting from the point of view of the Nigerian ELITES CLASS. This experience has prepared me for a Spartan trek in my new phase of life.
    The hullabaloo began from the day you are employed into the MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS ABUJA a so-called ELITES CAMP (THE FOREIGN SERVICE). Even though every letter of appointment is boldly printed MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS ABUJA. This fact never qualified some cadre of employees (THE BRANCH B CADRE) to be called a bona fide member of the esteemed organization. REASONS UNKNOWN… because there is no supporting facts for such disparity. Some itching minds may start asking questions about my intentions for this write-up. The reason is, my 19 years of dedicated and uncompromising services to the same services that have been discriminating against me. At this point, some reasonable persons would like to pay unwavering attention to my story lines. Even though this issue is just a journey and another phase of life. Do you think this evidence is substantially enough? The answer is NO. After prolonged years of service, but still I am asking questions of dissatisfaction it will not make sense to outsiders who lacked knowledge about what is happening in the inner circle. The problem is first with ” THE FOREIGN SERVICE RULES which those whom designed its framework are from the other privileged cadre, (BRANCH A ELITE STRATA ARM OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS ABUJA). They designed this malignant rules by assigning nomenclatures that are antagonistic in nature to discriminate and disenfranchised some members of staff from certain benefits in the ministry that was meant for all the staffers. Years before I joined the service staff identify cards where categorised by colours blue and red, today, I will not have enough time to back up on that. While the prerequisites for the disadvantaged cadre ( BRANCH B) is the minimum requirements of entry into the public service of Nigeria but for the ELITES CADRE ( BRANCH A) is a minimum of 2/2 lower credit from any Nigerian University in the field of Arts, social sciences and humanities degrees. Maybe this is the justification for the disparity. Again, is this enough reason for these practices of imperialism in an organization in an independent country like Nigeria. The practice has been established for decades unchecked because of the BROUHAHA covered by the lips service and hypocritical tendencies that have eaten deep into the fabric of NIGERIA FOREIGN SERVICE. Though nearly all of the BRANCH A are half-baked graduates with lesser potentials to drive this magnificent dream of NIGERIA FOREIGN SERVICE to the world stage. They are a bunch of opportunistic guys. A share of this blame is apportioned to the system of dichotomy in the entry point into the public service of Nigeria. TOPIC FOR ANOTHER DAY. This unnecessary spaces created by perpetrators have rubbished Nigeria representation at the international arena with large chunk of unpatriotic diplomats who are only after their stomachs, fame, elegant Lifestyle, luxury cars and homes, show off and self aggrandisement at detriment of national interest. Any country without a vibrant foreign service and good foreign representation will be lacking in good policy directions, and good Governance. Don’t also forget that some of these people have not credibly passed the required mandatory standard examinations set by the foreign service academy (FSA) before embarking on foreign posting abroad. Diplomatic posting has become a mere lucrative business among BRANCH A OFFICERS. “What is Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander.” Is worthy to note, that BRANCH B officers are not allowed to participate in the foreign service academy one year mandatory training as it is the practice in developed countries and other African countries such as South Africa who are the contemporaries of Nigeria, In the diplomatic space, and considering our rivalry with South Africa in this context. BRANCH B officers or administrative Attaché are deprived from acquiring a diplomatic passports for the purpose of diplomatic posting, which the military Attachés and immigration Attachés with the same designation at post are all the carriers of the diplomatic passport for the same course. Is this enough reason for my argument? it is still NO.
    While in the diplomatic assignation that’s where the disparity, discrimination, oppression, and suppression that can lead to traumatic brain injury and psychological disorders were clearly mated on members of BRANCH B in a foreign land without any justice system put in place to address or rescue the victim. I heard of a story of a BRANCH B that was allocated an office space under the staircase simply because she was very vocal, and she came back to Nigeria with a psychological disorder. Another communication officer who was posted to Pretoria was made to be trekking from Sandton Johannesburg daily to Pretoria, which was (55,8 km) for a duration of five months by the Head of Mission and was denied a schedule of duty. He is an old man in his late 50s, retired now. DEHUMANIZING RIGHT! Who can speak against the ALMIGHTY Heads of missions for the fear of recall and malicious references to the portions of Public Service Rules (PRS) always wrongly quoted to achieve victimisation of the innocent officers who may make the attempt of protesting or challenge a Head of mission. At this stage, the looting of funds allocated to missions for the purposes of providing good livelihood or good welfare of all officers to ensure proper national representation is been hijacked and misappropriated for the benefit of BRANCH A officers living almost all official quarters in most of our diplomatic missions in a state of deterioration, by the Heads of Missions. While this fact has become a norm and usual practice in all Nigerian missions with even much more to say which time, and space might not permit me. The latest conspiracy theory is a proposal presented to the presidency for the redeployment of all BRANCH B officers into the pool of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for an unjust course. Meanwhile, this fact is not the practice in other countries of the world. Even though the victims ( BRANCH B) are not the ones responsible for the mismanagement of the epileptic system of Ministry of foreign Affairs (MFA) that is already in ICU for an urgent rescue by the federal government.

    MY STOROY AT POST:

    Prior to departure to assume duty at post, I spent five years at the Consular and Immigration, Service, Division (CISD) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abuja. I discharged all my responsibilities meritoriously with strength, vigor, commitment, and dedication to the Nigerian public (PUBLIC OFFICIALS/PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS) across all boards of human endeavors, foreign diplomatic missions and diplomats resident in Nigeria inclusive. The nature of my duty was a challenging but satisfying one. While still building my service profile until December 2015, the news of so-called diplomatic postings came knocking at my door post though with mixed feelings, I reluctantly accepted and signed my posting letter to warm up for a journey today, I considered another school or phase of life. After all preparations were set and done, we beat farewell to families and friends, then departed Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja, Nigeria at 1400hrs on 21st February 2016 on board Ethiopia Airways flight and arrived Pretoria South Africa 12:30pm at wonderboom local airport. Before arrival, my colleague contacted me in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and confirmed my flight was wrongly booked. So instead of disembarking at O.R. Tambo international airport in Johannesburg there will be another connecting flight to Cape Town international airport, what such a local country tour? but it was not a funny experience. While in Cape Town my family and I were stranded and it took faith, courage, and charisma for me to surmount this mountain. Talk of connecting another local flight to payment for excess luggage, to the language barrier Et cetra. Finally, we touched the ground at the local airport on 22nd February 2016, only to discover that my colleague was despatched with a driver to receive us at O.R. Tambo International airport in Johannesburg, so another waiting with hunger for hours before they finally arrived. From the airport to a designated hotel booked by the High commission of Nigeria Pretoria and then assumption of duty on the same day. Before my departure, I called the Head of mission then who I presumed to be someone I do call a friend, but he did not response to my calls and SMS. This event was already a signal of what is awaiting me at my new place of national assignment. Now, at the High commission in Pretoria I met the Head of chancery (HOC) and the needed documentations was done, then the next thing was to report to the Head of the mission who refused to see or meet with his new staff for two weeks. After two weeks, he decided to see me and read the riot act to me ( a threat). This kind of intimidating reception was strange and unfamiliar to me but I just have to breast up to accept the unknown conditions and new realities as a part of the new phase of life. In an unbefitting small apartment in the lodge, my family and I had to spent my first 28-days, plus additional two weeks paying from my pocket. This event was just a tip of the Ice berg come to think of the challenges of adopting to a new environment, while no schedule of duty was assigned to me as the Head of Mission told me my services was not even needed in the mission, as a BRANCH B officer. One thing led to another he was reluctant to get my accreditation done, which strayed for five months without proper documentations for myself and my family, and we were out of status almost like illegal immigrants. We could not access medical services without a required permit in the host country. Who cares about that but not until I resolved to protest and writing a petition to headquarters (HQ) to please return me back home before we got documented. From hotel to a rented apartment for two, months, the Head of mission and finance Attaché refused to pay for my accommodation while the land lady threatened to kick us out of the apartment. With the intervention of the Head of a chancery and several calls by the management of the property the rent was finally paid, and I was told that my level was too junior to stay in an apartment I struggled to secure through the help of my colleague who was the first occupier. The mission politics and disparity gradually unfolded in different phases, and that led to changing my schedules from Consular and Immigration assistant to store management and protocol to secretarial duties, which are not my field of training, then finally to administrative duties. The story is not as short as you may think because at a point in time I revolted and requested to return to Nigeria after being subjected to psychological trauma and deprivation of my benefits, but was still subjected with over working and overwhelmed with six different schedules a time. What about the official quarters, which was a bush allocated to me without bedding for four years plus with licking roofs. The swimming pool was a habitat for Spirogyra, algae, and frogs. Some Head of missions in conspiracy with corrupt Finance Attachés are currently suspending medical aids or medical insurance for The BRANCH B OFFICERS (ADMINISTRATIVE ATTACHÉ) during the pandemic period as contrary to the existent regulations. And several inhumane treatments of the cadre by the FOREIGN SERVICE CADRE (BRANCH A) OFFICERS in the name of disparity. WHOEVER IS THE PROPONENT FOR THE REDEPLOYMENT OF BRANCH B OFFICERS POLICY AS A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS OF Ministry Of Foreign Affairs (MFA) SHOULD BE ASKED ABOUT HIS RATIONALE BEHIND THAT DASTARDLY ACT.FSO’S

    I additionally add, that some FSO’s who is perceived to be convertee and these that migrated from the defunct ministry of integration and cooperation into Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Abuja (MFA), May are not additionally left in the back of from the discriminating Act by means of the so- called bona fide FOS’s who’s claiming to be the proprietor of the ministry.
    The effect of this discrimination by many of the Branch A staff could be equivalent to the assault with the aid of the Deadly sect’s referred to as Boko Haram , its pure case of man’s inhumanity to man .

    Dear esteem readers, i urge you to dig deep you will be stunned to understand that, I’m now not the solely victim who have suffered worst ,but many colleague may also no longer be brave to voice out in this manner .your unbaised findings will supply you plenty perception on the antai labour things to do in Ministry Of Foreign Abuja (MFA)

    My final question will be is this the kind of Foreign Service and Diplomatic Assignation we all bargain for? This idea has to stop now or NEVER!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here