When you remove sentiments and personal attachments from the circumstances in which one of the Nigerian senior Journalists, Malam Yushau Shuaib found himself and how he swam in it, you are likely to come out with a verdict of Resilience or doggedness.
Yushau Shuaib was made a sacrificial lamb when he was abruptly retired from the federal civil service in June 2013, at the tail end of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s regime for daring to write a piece considered to be offensive to a powerful minister in that regime, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.
It is not the abrupt retirement of Yushau Shuaib who until then was the spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) that impresses us in the Greenbarge Reporters but how he reacted to it.
He had gone to court to challenge Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) and Federal Ministry of information over his abrupt retirement with James Ode Abah of Bamidele Aturu Legal Chambers on the legal driving seat.
In his statement of defence, Yushau Shuaib had argued that Public Service Rule 030421 gave him the right to write an article.
The section states: “nothing in this rule shall be deemed to prevent an officer from publishing in his own name, by writing, speech or broadcast matters relating to a subject of general interest which does not contain a critic of any officer.” He also cited Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution which states: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
He followed the legal processes until Justice David Isele of the National Industrial Court (NIC) finally ruled in his favour, ordering his immediate reinstatement.
Justice Isele declared that the letter retiring Yushau from service has no force of law and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever being in flagrant violation of the civil service rules.
The judge also declared: “The premature retirement of NEMA spokesperson by the Federal Government without conducting any investigation, without giving him an opportunity to defend himself and without complying with the condition precedent for retirement is contrary to Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and therefore illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and null and void.”
The court ordered Yushau Shuaib’s immediate reinstatement into his duty post as the Chief Information Officer without any loss to seniority, salaries, position and other emoluments.
The judge ordered the Federal Government to compute and pay within 30 days, all salaries, allowances and other emoluments due to Yushau Shuaib from June 2013 to the judgment date and interest at the prevailing commercial bank’s rate on his total package.
Of course, from day one, Yushau Shuaib did not lament, rave at and curse his fate on even the government that “oppressed” him: he did not mobilize his colleagues in the media to fight his “enemy, but he quietly went to court to challenge the government over the retirement. Not only that, he found something else doing.
While the legal battle raged on, he founded an outlet, a press release platform known as PRNigeria, for critical institutions in Nigeria serving the military, security, intelligence and response agencies, among others.
He coined the motto of PRNigeria as being out to encourage institutions to be transparent in their information management as it provides news items from authoritative sources for free use by the media.
He became very popular in the security circle as he made his platform readily available for them for use in delivering the true positions of things to media organizations in the country so much that he could walk confidently into the office of security chiefs around the country. Many media managers found press releases and other publishable items from his platform very reliable and safe.
Just as he was enjoying the new found love within the same media circle, and when he least expected, yesterday, September 17, 2018, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed asked that he should be reinstated into the federal civil service, in a letter with reference number FMIC/LEG/307/VOL.1/122, signed by the Director of Human Resources Management, Mr. S.U. Ewa on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture.
He was reinstated with immediate effect as Chief Information Officer on GL14.
The letter reads in part: “I am directed to refer to the National Industrial Court judgment dated 22nd November, 2017 on the above subject and to inform you of the Honourable Minister’s directive that you be reinstated into the civil service as Chief Information Officer, SGL14 with immediate effect.”
“You are therefore requested to report to the undersigned for further instruction, please.”
With his patience, perseverance and ability to remain relevant, Yushau Shuaib has been able to conquer the fear of the unknown by not allowing what would have weighed down other who are less courageous to face life the way it comes, to overcome him.
While the less courageous ones would have been boxed to a corner and fizzled out, Yushau dodged the temporary setback, and today, he seems set to enjoy the pleasure of eating with both sides of his mouth – running his successful PRNigeria platform and earning handsome wages, including the accumulated entitlements.
After years of suffering, who says Yushau should not smile?