The former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye is in the eyes of the storm albeit for the wrong reasons. A controversial former top civil servant, and his last official career progression was as Head of Service of the Federation which symbolically and in real terms, was supposed to have placed him as the custodian of the civil service rules and ethics as well as the embodiment of probity, accountability and integrity—all normative benchmarks for best practices in the service.
But his career had been less savoury, and entwined in all sorts of controversy such that many commentators such as Olarewaju Suraju and Debo Adesina of the Civil Society Network against Corruption have averred that the former HOS is the most controversial former boss of the civil service.
Recently, Oronsaye was arrested by the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and charged for fraud during his brief stint as head of the Jonathan’s administration’s rationalization committee of the Federal Government’s MDAs , a job many agreed he performed creditably well, but that was as far as the praise would go. Two Mondays ago, precisely July 13, he was along with others arraigned before Justice Kolawole Gabriel for alleged fraud and money laundering offences amounting to N1.9b, which the anti-graft agency said was committed under the quise of fictitious contract awards to nine non-existent companies. He was subsequently granted bail and the case adjourned to July 21.
Already, there has been groundswell of protestations against Oronsaye’s continued membership of high profile economic committee in the apex bank. Many also are not comfortable with Kolawole as the trial judge on account of bias.
The respected Civil Society Network against Corruption, in a statement signed by Olarewaju Suraju and Debo Adesina, chairman and board member, the CSNAC stated that the accused should be removed as ‘’Chairman Financial Action Task Force on account of his ‘’dented integrity’’. It also called for his removal as member of the Board of the Central Bank.
‘’We also demand a transfer of Mr. Oronsaye case and trial from Justice Gabriel Kolawole for his clear expression of bias , for his doubtful integrity and patent exhibition of disdain for probity and accountability’’.
This position was taken by Adeyemi Adejumo , president of the Yoruba Youth Agenda who averred that ‘’Oronsaye is not a good role model, and certainly he’s a disgrace to the civil service he headed, and if proven guilty as charged, he should be stripped off his national honour’’.
This is not the first time the Edo-born top civil servant would be in public glare, in November 2012; there were headlines on his minority report on the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force during formal submission to President Goodluck Jonathan. Then reactions trailed the acrimonious altercation between members of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force during the formal submission to Jonathan. At that time, some Nigerians had described the open disagreement and rejection of the report by Oronsaye, who was Deputy Chairman of the Committee as not only shameful and irresponsible but also an attempt by Oronsaye to undermine President Jonathan’s determination to fight corruption and entrench transparency, accountability and probity in the country’s petroleum industry. Oronsaye and Bon Otti, who was then newly appointed a director in the Ministry of Petroleum, had openly discredited the Nuhu Ribadu’s report on ground that the process adopted in its compilation was flawed, as according to the duo all members were not allowed to see the final draft.
For citizen Oronsaye, July 21 is the D-Day, when Justice Kolawole will either adjourn the case once more or deliver his verdict. Nigerians are watching!