The Presidency has denied recent media reports that the new Ministers have been banned from having direct access to President Buhari.
Recall that at the 2-day retreat for the Ministers designate, President Buhari informed them that all correspondents and scheduling of meetings must go through his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. This implied that all the Ministers must go through Kyari to fix appontments with President Buhari for them to see him.
Some Nigerians interpreted this to mean that the Ministers have been banned from seeing President Buhari. Others implied that Kyari is now in charge of the government.
However in a statement released by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, the presidency denied claims that Ministers have been barred from having access to President Buhari. According to the statement, the system where Ministers and State House officers go through the President’s Chief of Staff is what is obtainable in developed countries like the United States. Read the statement below
Recent media and social media reports on the responsibilities of the Chief of Staff to the President have suggested that the role has changed. This is not the case.
Today, under the Buhari II administration the role of Chief of Staff remains the same as it was under Buhari I.
It is worth stressing that the role and responsibilities of the Chief of Staff and the method of communication and arranging scheduling between Cabinet members and the President are, in Nigeria, based on the US model, where the same system operates – and has done for decades – in precisely the same way.
That role is to act as the head of the presidential administration at Aso Rock; to be an adviser to the President on any and all matters; to be the line manager for all staff at Aso Rock; and to manage appointments and scheduling for the President.
In the traditional presidential system, it is a primary function of a Chief of Staff, which may vary according to the needs and desires of each President, to supervise key State House Staff, control access to the office and the person of the President, manage communications and information flow and this includes that which binds the relationship with the two other arms of government.
During the President’s first term those were the responsibilities of the Chief of Staff, and they remain the same responsibilities today. There is no change.
When President Buhari explained to ministers that they would be expected to communicate with him and arrange scheduling to meet with him primarily via the Chief of Staff, he did so as many of the Buhari II Cabinet ministerial appointments are new appointments and cannot therefore be expected to know how matters of liaising with the President operate.
This is to stress that access to the President is open to ministers. It is not true that this is denied them in the Second Term.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on the other hand is responsible for ensuring the effective coordination and monitoring of the implementation of government policies and programmes. All cabinet matters must go through him.
Under this dispensation, a performance evaluation of ministers and Permanent Secretary will be maintained by the SGF. Two weeks after assuming office, they are expected to sign mandate acceptance documents.
It is time to end the unnecessary controversy, for the key appointees of the President to carry out their jobs.