Exactly 20 years ago in October 1993, I received the Best Writer and Researcher Award while serving as a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Delta State. Impressed by some of my writings and research efforts, Governor Olorogun Felix Ibru consequently offered me automatic employment in the Government House, Asaba as Public Relations Officer in the state Civil Service.
A few months later, another double award of automatic scholarship and NYSC National Honours Award was announced for me by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The honour by the Federal Government also went with an offer of automatic employment in the federal civil service that was not subject to either federal character principle or space availability.
Since then I had found myself working in various organisations as either Press Secretary or Head of Public Relations as I continued to write official Press Releases and personal opinion articles. Some of those organisations include Federal Ministries of Information, Finance, Health, National Assembly, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), National Press Centre and finally National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Since April 2013 when I was recalled from NEMA due to the influence of Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who had earlier spoken to me on phone alleging that I accused her wrongly in one of my writings, I had made up my mind about the civil service that I had served diligently and professionally without allowing myself to be influenced or intimidated by anyone.
In the course of these past months, my salary was suddenly stopped without any official notification to that effect. I had been summoned, issued letters of queries and confronted with verbal threats in the vain hope that I would retract the write-up and tender an apology. Of course, I stood my grounds in the same way that I had politely declined the minister’s request during the telephone conversation.
Finally on Thursday October 3, 2013, I received a letter of retirement from the Federal Civil Service, which was surprisingly backdated to June 20, 2013. Though the letter erroneously referred to me as Assistant Chief Information Officer (ACIO) (because as of fact, I had been promoted a Chief Information Officer (CIO) with effect from January 1, 2012), it contained the charge that I was retired for criticising a public officer.
After consultation with my family members, all of who believe that my life is more precious than political and administrative scheming, I accepted my disengagement from the civil service effective October 9, 2013 (a day to my birthday) leaving my traducers in the ultimate court of the creator.
I must extend my gratitude to the government of the state where I started my journey in the civil service and its people and to the Federal Government for finding me worthy to be a civil servant of the Federal Republic and allowing me to serve in various capacities in the last twenty years. I have received tremendous support and encouragement from editors of both mainstream media and publishers of online media across the country all of who also showed keen interest in the recent development. I will never be able to show enough gratitude to you all.
I understand the weaknesses inherent in the public service but must express tremendous appreciation for the concern and understanding displayed by some officers in the public service and top members of the Federal Civil Service Commission. For personal reasons, I declined to accede to their friendly advice that I should take certain actions that might enable me keep my job in the service but which I believe would assail my conscience.
Finally, I thank all my colleagues, friends and admirers who have been my pillars of support. I put my trust in God Almighty and rest assured in the solemn belief that Nigeria shall be great.
Yushau A. Shuaib