Embattled directors of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) have, again, petitioned the minister of industry, trade and investment Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, over continous maltreatment and breach of the extant laws governing the federal civil service by the executive secretary, Ms Saratu Umar, asking him to act fast in order to save the Commission from collapsing.
In a petition dated March 7, 2023, made available to this medium signed by Hajja Gana Wakil, Mr John Oseji, Mr James Akwada, Mr Abubakar Yerima , A P. Okala (Esq) and Mr Umar Bello , all NIPC directors and also addressed to Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Minister of Labour and Employment, National Security Adviser , Chief of Staff to Mr President, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress the directors lamented that over the last few months, the ES has not worked with any of them but rather, she minutes all matters to subordinates of her choice directly.
“Such choice subordinates have been coordinating the activities of departments to the complete exclusion of directors,” the petition stated.
Also in alleged violation of the NIPC Conditions of Service (COS), the Umar is accused of holding a management neeting on 17 February 2023 with her choice subordinate officers from various departments and units without inviting any director.
“Similar meetings were also held thereafter.
“The honourable minister will recall from our previous submissions, that since her assumption of duty, the ES held only one management meeting with directors on 20 October 2022,” the petition read.
It stated that the ES also failed to accept any written submissions made by the directors, prompting them to send such submissions to her by email.
Other allegations include; not assigning any director to oversee the Commission in her most recent
trip to Japan on 24 January 2023. Instead, she appointed a deputy director to oversee the Commission, expunging the names of the petitioners from the list of NIPC staff for the 2023 management and senior cadre training, not holding any tenders board meeting with directors rather undertaking all procurements without the knowledge of the directors, or even the head of procurement,setting up a committee chaired by Shiru Abdullahi, a Deputy Director, to review promotions of staff and directors, posting professionals among the directors (James Akwada, Patience Okala ,and Umar Bello) outside their areas of professional competence in violation of NIPC’s approved structure by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF) and the Public Service Rules. (A prior complaint is already before the HMITI).
Others are posting directors (Hajja Gana Wakil and Umar Bello) to head zonal offices in violation of NIPC’s structure approved by the HOCSF (Prior complaint made to the HMITI), posting a director (Umar Bello) to head a non-existent zonal office in Port Harcourt where NIPC has no physical presence save for one desk at the south- east zonal office, Enugu that merely oversees the south-south states, posting out the director of internal audit (Umar Bello) for commencing the process of issuing audit queries over her alleged fraudulent financial transactions of
30 and 31 December 2022, which were reported to ICPC and the HMITI by NIPC’s Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit.
The ES is also accused of posting directors (James Akwada, Hajja Gana Wakil and Umar Bello) out of departments to one-man units and zonal offices in violation of NIPC’s approved structure and appointing the following deputy directors to superintend over departments as acting directors – Sabo Isiaku, Aisha Wando and Benjamin Ikheloah, not releasing a director (Patience Okala) for previously approved sabbatical leave to work with UNCTAD on a national and regional assignment to benefit Nigeria in particular and West Africa in general, not paying two directors (Hajja Gana Wakil and Patience Okala) their duly earned Q4 2022 peculiar allowances, not paying a director (Hajja Gana Wakil) disturbance allowance, despite having posted her to Maiduguri zonal office on December 1, 2022, hosting of two full work days town Hall Meetings on 15-16 August 2022, where all directors were berated and staff were incited to do same, taking steps that pitch directors against each other including assigning a junior director (John Oseji) to superintend over their senior and issuing him a query for refusing to do so, issuing queries to two directors (Hajja Gana Wakil and Patience Okala) even when there was no wrongdoing on their part, not approving 2022 annual leave for four directors up till this time, despite having applied months in advance.
The directors according to the petition are: John Oseji, James Akwada, Barrister Patience Okala and Umar Bello, not approving leave of absence for the fifth director (Abubakar Yerima) to attend to a health challenge until his health deteriorated. Similarly, not approving 2022 annual keave for the sixth director (Hajja Gana Wakil) to attend to her health until she was constrained to attend to her medical emergency without the approval,not approving casual leave for another director (John Oseji) to lead his family in critical burial rites.
The petition also noted that on 30 January 2023, staff were threatened and coerced by Abdullahi Shiru and Ademola Aluko, into including their names in a list of persons pledging allegiance to the ES.
It further disclosed that staff who refused to include their names in the list are currently working under fear of repercussions.
“There is seeming militarisation of NIPC’s head office complex with the deployment of force personnel, fully armed with AK47 guns within the premises, breeding culpable fear among staff.
“Inclusion of threats of disciplinary action in almost every memorandum to staff,” it noted.
Umar was said to have also failed to hold promotion examinations in 2022 , despite the fact that management’s preparations towards the organisation of the 2021 and 2022 promotion examinations were well underway before her re-appointment.
The petitioners further disclosed that other prominent actions by the ES that has impacted negatively on the fortunes of the agency include; delay in treating correspondences (regarding requests for critical business information and NIPC’s intervention on issues affecting investments) from all stakeholders.
” This delay sometimes running into months, is having unintended negative consequences on the activities of NIPC and also, eroding investors’ confidence in the Commission’s capacity to deliver on its obligations to the investment community.
“A case in point is NIPC’s absence at the Public Hearing in the National Assembly on the amendment of the NIPC Act in late December 2022! The Commission also did not make any submission at the public hearing,” it stated.
The petition further noted that Umar failed to attend or even approve NIPC’s participation in sponsored important international events to build NIPC’s capacity to promote investments, despite NIPC’s leading roles in such events.
Some of the events are: the global conference of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), the West African Connect Event and the 1st Annual Assembly of African Investment Promotion Agencies, among other events. “At these events, opportunities for networking and interfacing with investors were missed,” it added.
Also, the non implementation of the Country-Specific Investment Strategy considered and approved in 2018 by the Economic Management Team (EMT) as a blueprint to facilitate targeted investments into the country, was among other allegations.