There is brewing controversy at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) over its refusal to sack one of its staff, Tawfiq Tayo Akinwale, who contested the 2023 governorship elections in Oyo state against the Public Service Rules and Electoral Act 2022.
Mr Akinwale contested the March 8 governorship election in Oyo state while still in the services of the hajj commission, in clear violation of the Public Service Rules.
Mr Akinwale s name, with Serial Number 636, had appeared in the ‘Final List of Candidates for State Elections: Governorship and State Assembly’, published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on its website ahead of the 2023 general elections.
In the INEC final list, Mr Akinwale declared that he was 48-years-old, and presented only a Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) as his only certificate.
Mr Akinwale contested the election alongside Ms Esther Adebimpe Akanji as his running mate.
The Public Service Rules provide that all civil servants must resign their appointments 30 days to the general Election Day.
Rule 030423 of the Public Service Rules requires that “Resignation is necessary before seeking elective public office. However, any officer wishing to engage in partisan political activities or seek elective public office shall resign his/her appointment forthwith.”
NAHCON staff protest
Some Concerned Staff of NAHCON had petitioned the Office of the Head Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) over an alleged breach of civil service rules and presidential directives by the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Oyo State, Mr Akinwale.
In a petition dated April 28, the petitioners claimed that Mr Akinwale didn’t resign before contesting the 2023 governorship election in flagrant disregard for civil service rules and presidential directives.
They said that despite violating these rules and presidential directives, Mr Akinwale has continued receiving salary and enjoying other benefits.
The petitioners also accused the board of the commission of favoritism and nepotism in handling the case of Mr Akinwale.
CSOs kick, seek discipline of NAHCON leadership
In a statement by the Movement for Greater Nigeria and Good Governance (MGNGG), a coalition of anti-graft organizations, signed by its Advocacy Director Tokunbo Lasisi, and Communications Lead Batool Sahib, on Tuesday said the commission was clearly abetting the breach of the falouting of the law because of ethnicity and favoritism.
The CSOs called for the sanctioning of the hajj commission management for “sanctioning and abetting the apparent flouting of the Public Service Rules and Presidential directives over Mr Tawfiq Tayo Akinwale, who contested the March 2023 governorship elections in Oyo State under the Labour Party (LP).”
The coalition urged the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF), the Office of the Head Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF), and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, to as a matter of urgency, reprimand, sanction and discipline the leadership of NAHCON over this glaring onslaught on the rule of law and public service rules.
“Mr Akinwale’s action, and as a matter of fact, the indecision and lackluster attitude towards discipline him, is a direct assault on rule of law and public service rules,” the CSOs said.
It was revealed that Mr Akinwale didn’t resign his appointment from NAHCON before he contested and lost the election. And NAHCON didn’t make any effort to reprimand him or sanction him during and after the elections as required by the relevant laws.
Speaking to some journalists, however, the spokesperson of the hajj commission, Mousa Ubandawaki, said NAHCON was not aware of the concerned staff petition against Mr Akinwale.
“We are not aware of the petition, and he [Akinwale] is in the best position to answer your question,” Ubandawaki said.