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Why powerful NEPC staff want me out – Osinbajo’s in-law, Segun Awolowo

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Why powerful NEPC staff want me out – Osinbajo’s in-law, Segun Awolowo

Why powerful NEPC staff want me out – Osinbajo’s in-law, Segun Awolowo
April 02
16:15 2016

The Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Segun Awolowo says he knows why aggrieved persons at the agency want him sacked.

In a letter to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, he pointed out that “most of these baseless accusations occurred before I was appointed as the ED/CEO and after asking their failure at the promotion examinations,” and wondered “why were all these allegations not brought up before now?”

In the memo titled ‘Re-complaints of violations of public service rules, federal character provisions and other irregularities by NEPC management in the conduct of 2012, 2013 and 2014 promotion exercise’, Awolowo explained that in order to give all Candidates equal opportunities and level playing ground, Centre for Management Development, an FG agency, was appointed to conduct the interview for fairness, speed, fool proof of leakages/insider abuse.

“On falsification of information and distortion of Staff records leveled against Mr B. O. Faleke: In order to cover up their deeds, the petitioners refused to mention the date Faleke returned to the NEPC. His approval to return and join his colleagues was in 2009 and was duly approved by the Hon. Minister.”

“The alleged falsification of age by Mr. M. O. Ibrahim: The claim is ridiculous and untenable. The information from M. O. Ibrahim personal file and International passport indicated that he was born on 9th September, 1956. If the petitioners are sure of their claim, they should provide evidence.

“The allegation that three (3) out of the four (4) existing Directors (Mr H. O. Otowo, Mr Sidi Aliyu and Mohammed A. Ibrahim) were promoted at the time when there was no vacancy for the promotion of Director (2009) was not true. In fact it was the NEPC Governing Board that conducted and approved their promotion.

“It is worth mentioning here that Mr A. G. Ganiyu sat for 2010 promotion and scored the same mark with Mr Bala Hassan. The SSC resolved to promote both officers. However, Mr Bala Hassan was promoted while Mr Ganiyu was not as his name was omitted. A representation on this matter was made to the then Hon. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment. The approval from the FMIT&I only came on 24th June, 2015, hence the directive was implemented.

“It is not true Mr Tijjani K. Zakari was deliberately denied writing promotion exam for the year 2011. This is a ploy to destabilise NEPC. Tijjani K. Zakari was employed in 1998 and placed on Grade Level 12 when he transferred his Service from Katsina State while on Grade Level 10 The regulation is that he should have been employed one step lower i.e. GL. 09, in which case he might not have been an Assistant Director now. (And nobody petitioned against him for this undue advantage).

“He was promoted to the post of a Chief Trade Promotion Officer with effect from 1st January 2005 and subsequently promoted to the post of an Assistant Director with effect from 1st December, 2010. How could this officer qualify for promotion to Deputy Director in 2011? This is mere fallacy that ordinarily should be penalized.

“It is a high level of absurdity when the petitioners claimed Hassan Bala was deliberately excluded from the 2014 promotion exercise and at the same time claiming that he was invited and participated at the event. Hassan Bala transferred his service from Lagos International Trade Fair Complex with effect from 11th November, 2009, accepted the conditions but thereafter obtained a letter from the then Director Admin & Human Resources backdating his effective date to 1st January 2006. The letter had been nullified by the Ministry.

“Allegation that Mrs Opeyemi Abebe was seconded to an organisation which had no relationship whatsoever with NEPC and Nigerian is wicked. Abebe was seconded to the Canadian Embassy for the position of Trade Commissioner in line with PSR 020502 (iv) which states: ‘Secondment of an officer to the service of another Government, or Approved body or recognised International Organisation at his own request shall be for a maximum period of two years in the first instance after which the officer must apply for extension, seek for transfer or return to his former post’.

“The allocation of fund in the Council is not lopsided. It is untrue that ED/CEO single-handedly allocates funds without recourse to the Fund Allocation Committee. The true picture is that on assumption of office, each time we received funds the Fund Allocation Committee (FAC) would meet to allocate the funds. It was, however, observed that since every meeting produced similar allocation pattern, I had to use my discretion to make funds available by applying already established pattern from several meetings of the Committee.

“On allegation of incessant travel by the ED/CEO – There is no way the Council can deliver on its mandate if efforts are not made to take advantage of the existing opportunities, locally and internationally. The need to diversify the economy can only be achieved by being active participant in non-oil export relevant events both at home and abroad.

“On allegations of payments to Technical Assistants to the ED/CEO, they were neither on the payroll of the Council nor were included in the Senior Staff Committee (SSC) that conducted the 2014 promotion. They are with the NEPC to add value as we recognize the need for private sector inputs in our activities. We have three working in the Office of the ED/CEO sponsored by: United Bank of Africa, Zenith Bank and Skye Bank. And these placements were approved by the Hon Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.

“On KPMG, all payments were in line with contract document. It is abnormal to just hand pick one document without considering the full contract of engagement. The components are professional service and reimbursable.

“Alleged fleet of six cars: On my arrival at NEPC, I met, both at the Headquarters and Zonal Offices, some rickety vehicles including two parked-up Land Cruiser purportedly meant for the ED/CEO and Board Chairman. I refurbish/repair the vehicles which broke down on the road. This necessitated the purchase of staff buses, hilux pick-up project vehicles and two cars to replace the 10-year old Land Cruisers. All vehicles were deployed to NEPC Zonal Offices. These are verifiable facts.

“On ‘phantom travels’: The work of NEPC is trade promotion and although I was not in the Council when the Lome Solo Exhibition took place, records available show it was yet the most successful project the Council had ever carried out. Virtually the whole of ECOWAS attended. Over 40 staff of NEPC, FMIT&I, NEPC Board members, Nigerian Customs Services, 90 companies from Nigeria participated. The NTA in Accra, Ghana was full mobilized and the video recordings are available.
“It is ironic that some of the staff whose names were attached to the petition fully participated in the event playing different roles. While some of them travelled to different ECOWAS Countries to mobilise, some actually participated in the main event. Mr. M. O. Ibrahim co-ordinated this historic project, but was not given any cash as the usual practice. Rather the Accounts Department disbursed all payments to the beneficiaries. He only collected estacode allowance, just like all the other staff.

“On payment to travel agency: This allegation is also intended to malign the hard-working Travel Agency that grant flight tickets to staff on credit within short notices. The staff offset their indebtedness to the agency when approved funds for the events are paid which usually takes some time.”

Awolowo concluded by requesting the Minister “to discard the petition since the petitioners did not route it through the proper channel and also commence disciplinary actions against the Petitioners for orchestrating misleading information.”​

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