- President held captive by statist ideology, rather than sound economics
- Permanent secretaries, which he claimed were more reliable then became an still remain his albatross
- Some MDAs harbour super permanent secretaries and Directors with fiefdoms
- Some power equipment supposed to have been brought in from Europe at an extra cost of $250m, instead came from China to save cost on inferior equipment
By John Danjuma Omachonu
When the outgoing president Mohammadu Buhari administration came to power in 2015, one of the major critical areas it promised to tackle headlong, among others, was the lingering electricity challenges, which they claimed during the campaign that they had the magic wand to bring about lasting solution.
The expectation, then was that capacity utilization by companies that was at the lowest ebb was going to witness monumental positive changes and that even the artisans depending on electricity for their businesses would experience better deals.
To demonstrate his readiness for the task ahead and to walk the talk, Buhari decided to put one of his ‘action persons’ Babatunde Raji Fashola to superintend 0ver Power, Works and Housing, as a minister.
In fact, Fashola was quoted in 2015 as saying that “any government that cannot fix electricity challenge in six months has no business being in power”. But today, Nigerians are living witnesses as Fashola could not achieve the promised task of making stable electricity available to Nigerians for over four years he spent in the ministry, until he was relieved of some aspects of his responsibilities and power was assigned to Mamman Saleh as the minister.
Nigerians felt then that the deconsolidation of the Fashola’s portfolio and making the power ministry stand alone was because president Buhari may have realized that Fashola may have been overburdened with many responsibilities that he could neither deliver his principal’s covenant nor even redeem his own image by walking the talk.
But, some analysts see the non composition of his cabinet by Buhari for over six months after he was sworn in as president n 2015 as a self inflicted wounds that prevented the president from tackling the challenges in the economy, corruption and insecurity bedeviling the country.
Buhari, they further argue, was held captive by statist ideology, rather than sound economics and as such the permanent secretaries,which he claimed were more reliable then became an still remain his albatross, as the tripod stand of the administration remains shaky.
In a typical ministry for instance, the principal officers are the supervisory minister, who remains the nominal accounting officer, the permanent secretary with tremendous power and in most cases seen as a ‘super permanent secretary or Director-General’ and directors who have created fiefdoms, depending on their portfolios or departments.
Metrobusinessnews.com, (MBN) investigations show that, among the directors, some weld more powers and influence more than the other, depending on one’s department.
One of them, that is usually bobbling, is the Director of Finance and Administration, (DFA), who, in most cases is in the most influential of the league of three, the Minister, Director-General and DFA.
Recently, the power ministry has been in the news, and indeed for bad reasons, at least going by the anti-corruption disposition of Buhari administration.
Further investigations reveal that despite the full compliments of bureaucracy, from the minster to the cleaners, the atmosphere in the ministry is enveloped in suspicion, anger, betrayal and hatred, occasioned by perceived and real injustices, denials, among others.
Although the alleged corruption is not peculiar to the power ministry, this platform has decided to start from it as count down to Buhari administration begins and reviews of some critical sectors relevant to promises made about eight years ago are being assessed.
Consequently, while some of the alleged sharp practices were believed to have affected delivery of the promised dividends of democracy by the government, others have rather created bad blood among the staff as differential treatments are accorded the staff depending on their connections, affiliations, obeyance, among others.
Specifically, MBN learnt from some credible sources that for over eight years, the ministry has been characterized by:
- Non payment of Cleaners of the ministry from January to date;
- Late payment of Security Commissionaires as January allowance paid towards the end of April, while payments for the months of February and march for security Commissionaires and security details paid last week;
- No training for security, kitting and the new minimum wage for security Commissionaires as approved by salaries and wages commission was denied them by the ministry claiming it was not in the budget;
- Their take home is so low that only one out of 37 of them receives N34,000 as monthly allowance whereas others are below 30,000;
- All or most contracts are been handled without due process;
- A Director was posted out of the ministry but later canceled ‘after due consultations’
Observers are worried that despite the existence of the anti- corruption agencies, like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission,(ICPC) and claims of oversight functions by the National Assembly, these monumental frauds could still be pervasive in some Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs).
Last month of April, it was reported that EFCC detained Adewumi Joseph Omotayo, a director with the ministry who was linked with about billions of naira fraud and other property.
Omotayo was said to be incharge of Finance and Administration and was being detained over financial crime hovering around Two Billion Naira, thirty three luxury homes, and for making payments for contracts that were never executed.
Metrobusinessnews.com (MBN) learnt from credible sources closer to the ministry that Omotayo has been in the custody of the EFCC for upwards of ten days on the allegations of financial fraud and for owning multiple houses nationwide numbering over thirty.
Our investigation reveal that Omotayo has been making millions of naira payments into an account for non existing Mambila power project.
He was alleged to be found making payment of several millions for construction of nonexistent road to mambila project site, as well as owing a car stand in Garki area of Abuja.
Alleging that he was responsible for the payment of various huge sums of money paid into individuals accounts of his cronies, he was also posted out from the Ministry several months ago by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, but refused to leave the Ministry, and it’s business as usual.
The DFA was allegedly said to have boasted to members of staff of the Ministry that he has a lot of friends outside the ministry, while making reference to why he had been invited on many occasions to EFCC without detention.
Similarly, last week EFCC allegedly arrested a former minister of power , Sale Mamman over embezzlement and diversion of N22 billion during his time as minister from 2019 to 2021.
The former minister was arrested after investigations by the anti-graft agency revealed that he conspired with some staff members of the ministry in charge of the accounts of Zungeru Hydro Electric Power project which was recently concessioned for 30 years, to divert the money and share among themselves.
In fact, the findings by The Street Journal, WSJ, showed that not only is the embezzled money being bandied around, N22 billion, far less than the actual money stolen , which is N340 billion, but the magnitude of the fraud is such that it indicted four former minsters of power,six retired permanent secretaries,a director of finance, some directors of power, a retired director of Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, and a retired director in the ministry of finance, all of whom are in EFCC custody.
Beside Sale are Director of Finance in the ministry, permanent secretary in the ministry and a consultant and a certain Engineer Adewunmi, the managing director of Decrown West Africa Company Limited. There were all apprehended months before Sale’s arrest became public knowledge.
The lid on Sale and his cohorts was blown open when the director of finance in the ministry didn’t pay one of the accomplices his own share of the illicit money which is N250 million since March 2022. Tired of waiting, he petitioned the EFCC using the director’s account balance as proof. Unfortunately, the petition opened up more can of worms, the magnitude one can’t yet begin to comprehend.
This began an investigation into the controversial $5.8 billion Mambilla Hydro Electric Power project contract to Sunrise power.
From EFCC findings, it was discovered that the director, within only three months of becoming a director, had a bank balance of N6 billion. Also, 12 Abuja based Bureau de change operators and a company called CNEEC Power Nig Ltd,were the conduits through which money was siphoned from accounts of the ministry for 12 good years.
Ironically, the promoter of CNEEC P0wer Nig Ltd was unaware that fraud was being committed using his company’s forged letterheads and his signature.
CNEEC Power Nigeria Limited Involvement
According to WSJ, in 2012, CNEEC Power Nigeria Limited put up bid for the power project contract and won the tender but the promoter was unceremoniously edged out while his company’s name was ‘retained to commit fraud.
Findings reveal that the equipment to be used for the project were supposed to have been brought in from Europe at an extra cost of $250 million. But instead, the equipment came in from China to enable them save cost on inferior equipment and pocket the balance of the money.
Following the whistle blowing, the EFCC last year began to monitor the promoter of the company with intention to get more proof that he wasn’t in on the fraud.
A few weeks ago, he was finally confronted with 10 ‘Ghana must go’ bags filled with exhibits; account statements from ten bureau de changes, girlfriends of the ministers and directors as well as that of the edged out MD’s account
After establishing the fact that he was not in on the fraud, the anti-graft agency invited him to their office to see the arrested criminals and urged him to sue them for damages and forgery.
Ironically, it was further learnt that the 76 year-old Adewunmi, a consultant and a pastor with the Redeemed Christain Church of God, RCCG, and his company, Decrown West Africa Company Limited were brought in on the power project contract by CNEEC Power Nig Ltd,only to join the civil servants to sideline the promoter of CNEEC Power Nig Ltd.
The 40% local content scope meant for CNEEC Power Nig Ltd was executed by companies owned by the consultants from CNEEC Power Nig Ltd without the promoter of CNEEC Power Nig Ltd’s knowledge.
These were people who were supposed to work with CNEEC Power Nig Ltd on the project but pushed out the promoter and used the company to illegally amass illicit wealth for themselves.
Also, from the EFCC findings, the arrested fraudsters reportedly own estates across the country, private universities,properties all over the world and send their children to the best universities in the world using their ill gotten wealth.