By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – The Presidency on Saturday explained that the responsibilities of the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President had not changed.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja, frowned at recent negative speculations, saying the role of the CoS remains as it was during the first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said: “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.’’
According to Shehu, the CoS is to act as the head of the presidential administration at Aso Rock and to be an adviser to the President on any and all matters.
He said the CoS would serve as 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.
“He is 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,’’ he added.
The presidential aide, noted that during the President’s first term those were the responsibilities of the CoS, 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, according to him, is responsible for ensuring the effective coordination and monitoring of the implementation of government policies and programmes.
He added that all cabinet matters must go through him.
He explained that under this dispensation, a performance evaluation of ministers and Permanent Secretaries would 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,’’ he said.