The Presidency on Saturday explained why President Muhammadu Buhari asked ministers to go through the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, to schedule appointments with him.
In a statement posted on the Twitter handle of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Presidency dispelled insinuations that the role of the Chief of Staff has changed from what it used to be.
It said under President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term administration, the role of Chief of Staff remains the same as it was during the first term.
According to the Shehu, the pronouncement was made because most members of the newly constituted Federal Executive Council (FEC) are new appointees.
“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,” he said.
Shehu noted that the President would be accessible to his ministers in his second term as he was in his first time.
“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,” he said
The Presidential aide went on to expatiate on the schedule of duties of the Chief of Staff.
The statement read in part, “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.
“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.”
Of the role of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, he said, “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.”
Shehu said it was time to stop what he described as “unnecessary controversy for the key appointees of the President to carry out their jobs.”