Posted by Bernard Balogun | 17 January 2020 | 1,165 times
Some people are laughing so satirically now because they do not wish this administration of PMB (President Muhammadu Buhari) to succeed.
So, for any administrative step taken by this administration, which is not in consonance with their aspirations, they laugh, they boo us, and they are happy. They are called “people from the opposition”.
I am different. I am not in the opposition camp; neither in the camp of the ruling party. Call me a centralist, you may be right. In any case, this write-up is not about me, but about a national burning issue. It is about a system and an agency of government that currently promotes unhealthy rivalry amongst staff.
I am deeply saddened by the unhealthy political development in that agency of government. The sadness is gradually translating into a shame. My friends in the opposition are actually making a huge jest of me. They are angry with me. They are pointing at me. “We told him – vote for us but he refused. See his life?” All in a satiric mockery! In all of these, l remain steadfast in my belief that l took the right decision to support whoever l choose to. That decision is mine to make and it remains sacrosanct.
However, my present state of despondency must not translate into an overwhelming disappointment in this current government. It is in view of this, l respectfully appeal and call on our amiable President Muhammadu Buhari, a man who had made so much sacrifice for the sustainability and unity of this country, to please listen to the cries of some patriotic Nigerians. Their cries are not for selfish reasons it is a cry of utter dissatisfaction and regret that have permeated the land. And this has a negative impact on this administration.
Mr President, there is a parastatal under the Ministry of Power, called Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET), which you recently moved to Federal Ministry of Finance. No one has the constitutional right to query your decision. But Nigerians feel it is a fundamental error to transfer NBET to Ministry of Finance.
It is generally believed you were wrongly advised. NBET is an essentially engineering-based outfit, with the administration of electricity function as its core mandate. It is, therefore, inappropriate to annexe NBET to Ministry of Finance, as there can never be effective supervision that will enable NBET to achieve its mandate.
Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading has consistently been in the news, on each occasion, for the wrong reason; and this is giving this administration a bad name. This ugly trend must be reversed in the best interest of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as a party and this government.
NBET was inaugurated in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan. Its core function is to manage and, indeed, administer the electricity pool and its supply chain in Nigeria. That significant role has been jettisoned. At its inception, under the pioneer managing director, NBET contributed handsomely to the Federation Account. This was between 2014 and 2015. Unfortunately, since Dr Marilyn Amobi was appointed in July 2016 till date, NBET had been in a kind of disarray. Its primary responsibility had been jettisoned for personal vendetta. The vendetta began in the early part of her tenure. Some personnel who want to remain loyal to the institution, rather to her, were promptly categorised as “rebels” and sent on indefinite suspension. Why were they sent on suspension? Because they advised Dr Marilyn Amobi to desist from corruptly-enriching herself to the princely sum of N2 billion monthly. She was angry. In spite of ministerial intervention that these officials be recalled, the MD remained disdainfully resolute. She held to her guns. She thinks it is proper to wield off those she considered as “stumbling blocks”.
Nigerians must never be tired of appreciating the patriotic role of an Abuja-based popular reality talk-show programme, known as Brekete programme, anchored by “ordinary president” (Dr Ahmad Isah), who was first to blow up this monumental corruption going on in NBET. This was around November 2018. On that occasion, Amobi was openly invited to come over to the studio to clear herself of any wrongdoing. This window of opportunity to come over to the studio was at no cost to her or to NBET. Yet, she did not turn-up for many weeks before that window was shut.
One had assumed the Federal Government would quickly take prompt action to prevent further corruption in NBET. Sadly, it did not.
As we speak, NBET is in total indebtedness to the tune of N1 trillion to the GENCOS, yet it enjoys Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) intervention to the tune of N701 billion. Can she account for this humungous amount? What has she done with it or has she retired the money? Certainly not! My background check did not prove so. No impact on the money anywhere. The NBET boss is known to have deliberately infringed on all known financial provisions in many instances. It is rumoured she maintained a foreign bank account two years after she had assumed duty as the managing director of NBET. In fact, between April 6 and May 3, 2018 she made three separate lodgments to the tune of £90,000 into the London account. This is in contravention of Nigerian Constitution (No 3 of the fifth schedule, part 1, code of conduct for public officers). It is such a serious offence that it attracts imprisonment.
The litanies of constitutional breaches by Dr Amobi are endless and cannot be fully discussed once.
The EFCC, ICPC and, indeed, the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation have separately indicted this woman in their separate and independent reports. In fact, the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation discovered that this woman expended the princely sum of N355 million to buy 12-exotic vehicles in one year. As an MD of a Federal Government Agency, has she the statutory power to so approve such a contract?
No punitive measures had been taking against her in spite all of these infringements and indictments by the anti-graft agencies and, of course, the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation. Need l mention the organisational disrespect for the office of the supervising minister? Because no action has been taken against her, she has further been emboldened and ruthless in dealing with the staff in that agency.
In conclusion, Mr President, permit me to share this true-life story. It is a personal experience. One Saturday, about two years ago, I went to a secondary school football pitch here in Abuja, just to while away time. There was a football match ongoing. I got a seat close to a young lad. He must be between 9 and 11 years old. After making myself comfortable, l turned to the young lad. What is the scores? He gleefully laughed in response: “They are winning us 2-zero.” He noticed the disappointment on my face, he quickly added. “Uncle, don't worry, we will win them,” still laughing. Something in me told me, he is not a committed fan of the losing team. I was still in that state of a quandary when the centre referee blew for half-time.
This young lad jumped out of his seat unto the field, meandered in the midst of his supposed team and returned to his seat. He looked at me again with an assurance: “Uncle, we will beat them.” Shortly after, the game resumed. About five minutes or so into the second half, the boy’s team scored the first goal. Fifteen minutes into the second half, the boy's team had equalised. Gleefully, the boy turned to look at me. “Uncle, we will win them.” Just about three minutes to go, the boy’s team scored the third goal and the young lad confidently turned to me and said, “Uncle, we don win.” And this is the interesting part of it all. The boy said “l trust the team and l trust our coach.”
With your very kind permission, Mr President, permit me to say your recent presidential decision to recall Dr Marilyn Amobi back, after her supervising minister, Mr Salel Manman, had courageously sent her away on suspension, you ordinarily would have allowed that ministerial decision to stand. Your decision to “override” that politically wise decision of the minister will go a long way to promote impunity in the system and utterly weaken the authorities of ministers, not just that of Power ministry but, in fact, every other minister.
And the message was clear: you do not trust the decision of your minister. That is the difference that young lad displayed: trust all through.
Truly sir, whoever recommended that Dr Amobi be reinstated or talked to Your Excellency, about this woman, is the worst enemy of this administration and the country at large. And, such a person, certainly do not wish Nigeria to overcome the current challenges in the electricity sub-sector. I respectfully call on the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation to push to the President’s table the reports of EFCC, ICPC and, indeed, that of the Auditor-General of the Federation where Amobi was separately indicted. The mantra of this administration is hinged on corruption and this is a certified case of corruption in every direction. The NBET boss should be relieved immediately of her duty as the managing director. Her stay in NBET has negated the growth and development of that agency. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
•Bernard Balogun (BenPino) writes from Wuse District of Abuja and can be reached via 0803.787.2975.
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