By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) has approached the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) with questions over appointments made in the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) by the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman.
The Minister however dispelled any breach of due process in the said appointments. His Special Assistant on Media, Aaron Artimas said the Minister approached and got the Presidency’s approval to fill the vacant positions, adding that internal processes for such appointments were followed to the letter.
HURIWA however said it has written the ICPC to clarify the status of one of the new appointees in the Procurement Unit, Mr. Bulus Maiyaki who it claims has been under investigation over his roles in a similar capacity in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Maiyaki is from the same Taraba State with the minister.
The minister’s SA, Mr Aaron Artimas while responding to our text message seeking the minister’s comment said “The Minister cannot be accused of meddling into an agency under his purview. The organization is under his watch.”
A memo from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) stated that REA is under the supervision of the Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jeddy Agba.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the appointments made in REA were lopsided.
The statement said: “HURIWA does not want or intend to dabble into the internal politics that motivated the Honourable minister of Power into making those appointments.
“But we are basically writing to protest the lopsidedness observable in this action and the breach of the ethical codes as clearly stated out by the appointing authority through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as emphasized by a memorandum of modus operandi authored by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“As reported by the media and as confirmed by our team who visited the premises of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) most Staff of the agency have faulted the ministerial interference.
“According to our findings from their agitation he ( the minister) is not the one supervising REA going by the clear Presidential guidelines issued from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation which goes to show that REA is under the direct supervision of the Minister of State, who had no hand in the redeployment of staff in the agency.
“There is little doubts from our findings that the staff are alleging that the postings were lopsided with the Minister of Power allegedly redeploying four favorites (three from the North-East and one from the North-West) to the Procurement Unit.
“Specifically, going by a memo, which was signed by the Head of Human Resources and Administration, Rakiya Ahman Mustapha, the affected top directors were redeployed with effect from January 2 just as those redeployed got their letters about two to three hours before the new Managing Director, Engr. Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad assumed duties last Thursday.
“ We have regrettably read in the media the heightened state of tension currently in the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) over redeployment of top staff by the Minister of Power, Engr. Mamman Sale few hours before the assumption of duties by the new Managing Director of the agency, Engr. Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad.
“Importantly, we reject this move by the Minister of power to impose his lackeys to take charge of funds and procurement in the Rural Electrification Agency and in the case of the nominee of the minister to take charge of the Procurement department.”
The association put the minister to task on the appointment of a new Procurement Director for REA, Mr. Bulus D. Maiyaki.
“We hereby ask the minister to withdraw this appointment immediately or to clearly tell Nigerians if his nominee in the person of Mr. Bulus D. Maiyaki is not the same official in the National Health insurance Scheme (NHIS) who was the Secretary of Tenders Board under the discredited erstwhile Executive Secretary Professor Usman Yusuf who was dismissed from office for alleged procurement related infraction by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration following a petition being investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission.
“HURIWA’s conviction is that if these unethical appointments into the Rural Electrification Agency are left unchallenged and if the minister of Power is not persuaded to comply with the statutory norms that emphasize transparency and accountability, the Federal Government is as well telling Nigerians that the publicized mantra of anti-corruption and the fight against economic crimes are mere hypocritical battles to confuse the people of Nigeria.
“We hope that the Honorable minister of Power will listen to the voice of reason and toe the line of good conscience by doing what is right in this circumstance as demanded by our letter of protest.
In regard to claims that the Power Minister is imposing his townsmen at REA in breach of presidential guidelines and due process, the Minister’s aide said “this is also another lie. The new MD is from Adamawa state while Mr Maiyaki is Jukun- Christian from southern Taraba and the Minister is Fulani Muslim. Where is the bias here? Should Taraba people be denied their rights of appointment because the Minister happens to be Taraban?”