By Francis Adeleye Adebowale– The situation within the Ministry of Power superintended by the duo of Engineer Sale Mamman and Mr. Goddy Jedy-Agba in the last few weeks undoubtedly calls for concern. This unpleasant development portends danger for every critical sector of the Nation if not immediately addressed and a solution proffered. The Nigerian energy sector, as over the years, has been plagued by widespread corrupt and illicit practices which has made successive government’s interventions go noticed. And this is not about to change if urgent and critical measures are not taken by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In what can best be described as brazen disregard for due process and competence and an unwarranted display of power and preeminence, Sale Mamman has personalized critical decisions within the Power Ministry and its Agencies, even to the detriment of the collective good of Nigerians, whose bidding he swore to do at his inauguration as Minister of the Federal Republic.
Sale Mamman’s decision to “indefinitely suspend” the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Damilola Ogunbiyi, which has since been reversed by the President, further lends credence to his high level shenaniganry. Damilola Ogunbiyi, from her time as Senior Special Adviser on Public Private Partnership (PPP) to the Lagos State Governor and then as General Manager of Lagos State Electricity Board to being appointed to oversee the REA, has displayed competence in her chosen career path in the energy sector, which gave rise to her appointment as Chief Executive of the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All.
Ogunbiyi’s “suspension”, which came months after she tendered her resignation to enable her proceed to her new role at the United Nations, was greeted with widespread condemnation even within the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) as staffs berated the Minister for “hating women”.
Nigeria’s loss is the UN’s gain. But for how long shall the country continue to sacrifice competence and efficiency for nepotism and undue preference?
On the same day, in what was called “reorganization/sanitation in the Federal Ministry of Power”, Sale Mamman, through his ineffectual mouthpiece Aaron Artimas, in a release had asked the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET), Marilyn Amobi to “step down and hand over to the most senior Director of the Organisation”. This decision, according to sources within the Presidency, has also been reversed by the President.
It would be recalled that few weeks ago, the National Union of Electricity Employees embarked on strike to protest what was alleged as failure of the Minister of Power to implement their demands on the privatization of the Power Sector.
In a memo dated November 7 2019, and sent to the Minister, NUEE had threatened to declare a nationwide strike if its demands were not met. It was in fact, stated in the memo that previous letters to the Minister since his assumption of duty as Power Minister had gone unacknowledged.How does a Minister of Power show apathy for its workers and their plights?
But for the swift intervention of the Minister of State for Power Mr. Goddy JedyAgba, who had first met with the Electricity Workers’ Union weeks before they embarked on the industrial action that plunged the country into darkness for nearly 24 hours, the situation would have further gone unattended and the Nation plunged into perpetual darkness. Nigeria has never had it that perilous.
Meanwhile, the tension that Mamman’s inglorious decisions of easing out the MDs of REA and NBET had yet to abate, when his nepotistic mien came to the fore again. This time around, it was the appointment of two of his kinsmen as Directors into the REA.
Sale Mamman had given specific directives that the Directors be in charge of Procurement and Funds within the REA.The Directors are Dr. Lawal Ibrahim (Funds) and Mr. Bulus Maiyaki (Procurement). While Maiyaki was internally redeployed, Ibrahim was purportedly shipped in from outside.
The manner of these autarchic appointments is what calls for concern.
The Minister of State, Goddy Jedy-Agba has had no input in any of these powercrazy displays. Even though, by the directive of the President, he supervises the REA.
In a memo dated December 27, 2019, Sale unilaterally made the postings.
“I wish to inform you of the deployment of the following officers from their present position as follows: Dr. Lawal Ibrahim (Director, Funds); Bulus Maiyaki (Procurement); Demas Y. Dideno (Deputy Director of Procurement now Deputy Director, Planning, Research and Development); Adeyemi Moses Adelekan (Assistant Director, Procurement to Assistant Director, Planning, Research and Development); Engr. Magaji D. Bala (Assistant Director, North-West to Assistant Director, Procurement); and Engr. Turba Gabriel Dangula, Assistant Director, Projects to Assistant Director, North-West)”.
Some persons within the Agency, who prefer anonymity, described the appointment as “strange and bizarre”.
“It is strange and bizarre for a Minister of Power to interfere directly in the affairs of REA by dictating who should be in charge of what units.
“This is the first time we are experiencing this kind of interference. It is more curious that the Minister is more interested in the units on Procurement and Funds.
“Why we are disturbed is that the Minister of State for Power, Mr Goddy JedyAgba is in charge of the Agency but he was not in the picture of these postings done by Engr. Sale.”
Sale Mamman must be called to order and be made to uphold the tenets of the memo containing the directive of the President, conveyed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha which spelt out the duties of the Minister and his Minister of State.
The memo by the SGF had on October 18, 2019 stated that REA is to be supervised by the Minister of State for Power.
“I write to formally inform you that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the schedule of duties for Ministers and Ministers of State to facilitate effective delivery of their Ministerial mandates based on government priorities. ”The Minister of State shall assist in the formulation and implementation of policies within his scheduled areas in a manner that supports the realization of the mandate of the Ministry. “The Minister of State shall be responsible for the following programmes activities of the ministry: Rural Electrification Programmes and Training and capacity development. “The Minister of State shall oversee the following parastatals: Rural Electrification Agency (REA); National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) and Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA).”
By these breaches, the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman may be guilty of the infractions he accused the former MD of REA of. I urge the President’s intervention, like the reversal of Damilola Ogunbiyi’s “indefinite suspension”.
Francis Adeleye Adebowale write from Lagos, Nigeria through email@example.com