A harvest of dismissals



THIS piece is a re-action to The Guardian editorial of April 30, 2015. And it was titled: “Reflection on IGP Abba’s sack.” Mr. Suleiman Abba was the Inspector-General of Police who was summarily dismissed without any official reason.

The editorial condemned the dismissal for its frivolity.

The former Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the wife of a former military Head of State. Mrs. Maryam Abacha, was sacked four years before he attained the formal retirement age of service; he was due for formal retirement on March 23, 2019.

At another time, the out-going President Jonathan sacked the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Habib Abdullahi, and appointed Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Ado Bayero as his replacement.

Again, no official reason was given. Dismissals are of two types – dismissal for cause and unfair dismissals. The first is termination of employment by the employer sacking the worker for unsatisfactory conduct. Grounds for dismissal must be stated.

The second is the dismissal of an employee that the employer cannot show to be fair. Fair grounds for dismissal include the employees’ conduct, lack of capacity or qualifications.

In the cases of IG of Police Suleiman Abba and MD/CEO of the Ports Authority, Mr. Habib Abdullahi, there were no grounds for their dismissals, which the tax-payers were entitled to know.

In the two instances cited above, there was no official reason. These acts of commissions and omissions are irksome. Why should an offender be punished without showing the reason or reasons for the punishment? Essentially, the reason for the punishment must be adduced.

In essence, it means that evidence, reasons and facts must be provided; an authority, corporate or individual does not just punish without stating the reason. This is a breach of natural justice. As low as at school level, a student is not just punished for an undisclosed misdeed, not to talk of national level where the President wields power arbitrarily just for the sake of it, because he is in power. If a student is arbitrarily punished, it smacks of high-handedness

Ditto to any high-ranking national official who is summarily dismissed. Punishment is meant to prevent future occurrence – that is, deterrence – but if no reason is adduced like in the cases of Suleiman Abba and Habib Abdullahi, it showed that President Goodluck Jonathan was arbitrary in his actions. The world over, the law of causality says that all effects have a cause. What are the causes of the dismissals of the two national officials to be able to determine their effects? Also, it is necessary to know whether the punishment is proportionate to the misdeed, if there is any. There is a Yoruba adage: “Oyinbo nlo, o su si ori aga” meaning: “The departure of a White boss from office witnesses an occasion for peculiar mess”.

In my considered opinion, and I stand to be faulted, President Jonathan’s arbitrariness creates hate, stunts initiatives among the rank and files, and also enthrones inefficiency in national service. Nobody may like to take initiatives in any national problem, because the outcome and reward cannot be foreseen.

The officials may adopt cavalier attitude by saying: “We better be careful, lest we end up in the manner of Suleiman Abba and Habib Abdullahi”.

Thus, initiatives are killed, for the ranks are broken, and mediocrity sets in. With President Jonathan’s actions, the seeds of discord are planted. The question is “Could he take such unilateral action without the backing of the National Assembly?” The legislature’s approval might have been sought for the appointments.

Admittedly, he may believe that he is effecting discipline, but even so, the contrary is the truth. It is a gross violation of human rights. Is he not aware that the summarily sacked national officers have immediate and distant family members? At least, each of them must have several dependants who benefit under them while in service, but are now short-changed.

The dependants’ future is as difficult to predict as the throw of a dice. President Jonathan is unfair, more so as they are unprepared for their fate. This is why the duo must be generously paid off.

From the economic standpoint, President Goodluck Jonathan has grossly erred. The dismissed duo had acquired age-long local and overseas professional trainings, administrative skills and other practical experience, which the executive action has rubbished away at one fell swoop.

Nigeria as a nation is the loser, and not President Goodluck Jonathan as an individual. What is more, the executive exercise hallmarks the President’s inconsistency. The failure to state the reasons at the right time for their dismissals leave the public to speculate that the action might be connected with the outcome of the recent elections.

Why not? The public could be right in their speculations. A loser’s earlier display of sportsmanship in congratulating the winner, and which was followed by summary sack of the chief security officer is a clear manifestation of a grudge against the poll’s result. The cataract of applause that he had garnered across the nation for his sportsmanship is diminished outright; it is out of sync with the action of dismissal. For, it is a way of venting spleen on some people for a failure or disappointment.

Presidency is ephemeral. On the spiritual plane, it must be emphasised that for every action in this ephemeral world, there is a re-action in the record of eternity. This is saying that a ruler is accountable to the Supreme Being, meaning that whatever man sows on earth, he reaps in the eternity.

• Oshisada, a veteran journalist, writes from Ikorodu, Lagos

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