Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government, has disclosed why it appointed the Director of the Foreign Service Academy, Lagos, Dr. Cyprian Heen, as the overseeing Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).
The NIIA, Nigeria’s foremost think-thank on foreign affairs situated in Lagos, has been embroiled in leadership crisis since the expiration of the tenure of Professor Bukar Bukarambe.
The agency suffered a breach of protocol in the appointment of an acting DG, as the former head of the agency did not hand over the most senior officer, in accordance with civil service rule. Prof. Aja Agwu, on Grade lever 15, was expecting to take over in acting capacity, but the former DG handed over to an officer on Grade Level 13.
Following the crisis, the parent ministry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gave assurance that it would ensure the right thing was done in the prevailing scenario.
However, against expectations of watchers of the series of events bedeviling the institution, the government appointed Heen from outside the institute as the interim director-general.
Disclosing the rationale behind the approach, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mustapha Suleiman, told Daily Sun that since the two factions in the institute could not reconcile, the government chose not to be part of the crisis.
“He is not an acting DG, he is an overseeing DG. It is an interim arrangement since the two factions in the organization cannot reconcile and we don’t want to be part of all their issues for now,” Suleiman said.
Suleiman further said the position had already been advertised, adding that the government was going to process the appointment of a new director-general.
“In that wise, in the interim, I have the Director, Foreign Service Academy, that will hold forth in that place in the meantime until we set out the process for recruiting a new DG,” Suleiman added.
Asked if the decision taken by the government did not portray it as incapable of resolving the crisis, Suleiman said that was not the case.
He stated that since two candidates were pursuing the same position, there was the need to review the antecedents of all the senior officers in the institute in order not to create another problem.
“So, that is why since we are in line of trying to recruit a new DG, we want to just have somebody who will support the system for now until we are able to get a new DG,” Suleiman also said.
On what the ministry will do in order to put an end to the age-long rift in the institute, Suleiman said the first thing that the government needed to do was to have a competent and capable director-general appointed.
“When he is appointed, the ministry will support him to see how he can reinvigorate the place. So, first thing first.
“If you have a DG who has the capacity to organize the place, to lead the place, then he will find a way to address some of these issues.
“The ministry cannot micromanage. These agencies of government are delivering units in the real sense. So, we cannot go down to that level and continue to even do what ordinarily, between the council and the management should do.
“The human resource within, is a human resource that can be managed to achieve the mandate of the agency,” Suleiman stated.