..……Refuses to quit
The MD/CEO of NBET Dr. Marilyn Amobi who was relieved of her appointment by President Buhari on June 8, 2020 has refused to vacate her office and is desperately clinging on to her position, hoping for a reversal of her sacking as had happened earlier in December 2019.
Readers would recall that on December 24, 2019 the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman had in a terse press release announced the sacking of the embattled MD/CEO. Two weeks after the removal and following an intense and sustained lobbying by Dr. Amobi, her removal was reversed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr. Boss Mustapha.
A similar scenario seems to be playing out in this latest dismissal. The Minister of Power had on June 15, 2020, through a press release signed by his Special Adviser on Media Aaron Artimas announced the sack of the embattled MD. The announcement also conveyed the approval of the President for the appointment of Dr. Nnaemeka Ewelukwa as the new MD/CEO with immediate effect. Dr. Amobi who had a month to go on her tenure was directed to proceed on her terminal/ outstanding leave.
Curiously, on June 16, 2020 a memo emanated from the Federal Ministry of Finance (the Minister of Finance is the Chairman of NBET’s Board of Directors) signed by the Permanent Secretary Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse confirming the sacking of Dr. Amobi and the appointment of Dr. Ewelukwa to the position of MD/CEO of NBET. However, a twist was introduced in the matter, when the memo stated that “The President has approved that you serve out your tenure at the completion of which you should hand over to Dr. Nnaemeka Ewelukwa who is to take over from you as the MD/CEO. Your appointment which took effect from 25th July 2016 for four years is to end on 24th July 2020”.
It is this letter from the Ministry of Finance that is at the center of the controversy. The embattled MD has latched on to this letter as an excuse to dig in and has refused to hand over to the new MD. Our sources at the Office of the Head of Service expressed surprise at the sit-tight behaviour of the out-going MD. According to our source, best practices demand that since a substantive MD has been appointed to take over from her, the outgoing MD should have used the remaining one month of her tenure as her terminal/outstanding leave.
Echoing the position of senior technocrats in the Office of Head of the Civil Service, the Special Adviser Media to the Minister of Power, Aaron Artimas in an interview with the Daily Trust Newspaper queried the power of the Minister of Finance to authorize the continued stay in office of the embattled MD who has been indicted for corruption. In an exasperated tone, he asked “How can the Ministry of Finance under Mrs Zainab Ahmed say she should continue to stay? Buhari in the letter from the Chief of Staff approved Ewelukwa as the substantive MD of NBET, not in acting capacity. And there is no way there will be two heads of an agency at a time”. Mr. Artimas further asked, “How can she stay when her successor has been appointed in substantive position?”
Despite the raised eyebrows about her refusal to vacate for her successor, Dr. Amobi is still occupying the office of the MD/CEO and in a replay of her earlier sacking, she is desperately doing all she can to reverse the presidential sack order.
NBET staff were alarmed when she was overheard on the phone frantically speaking with a powerful Minister perceived to be close to the President. The said Minister, who was flown out of the country while the domestic/international flights were banned by the federal government is reported to be facing severe health challenges. In the telephone conversation, she was frantically pleading with the Minister to intervene in any manner possible to save her job. Our source did not hear what the Minister said to her in response but her countenance after the call didn’t portray that she received a positive response.
The embattled MD is also trying to use her media consultants to throw mud on the new MD/CEO. She has spent the better part of the week compiling a dossier of negative things about Dr. Ewelukwa, which she intends to release to the media within the coming week. The plan is to tar him with false, scurrilous and unfounded allegations that may perhaps make the government have a rethink on his appointment.
She is also applying the same tactics with other members of NBET senior management who have been at loggerhead with her over her high-handedness and penchant for corrupt practices. She has compiled a list of allegations of misconduct against virtually all members of management. The documents is being circulated to Board members in advance of an inaugural Board meeting slated for Monday 22nd June 2020 despite the reconstitution of the board since August 2018. Our source at NBET said that the entire staff are looking at her with contempt and pity. According to the source, it shows her level of depravity that on the eve of her departure after her inglorious tenure, her priority presentation to the Board at its inaugural meeting are scurrilous documents making all sorts of allegations against her entire senior management staff.
Sources at NBET told our correspondent that on her appointment as MD of NBET in July 2016, Dr. Amobi met an efficient company with a well-motivated staff. There were nine senior management staff members. Dr. Amobi, had issues with ALL of them. Starting with Waziri Bintube (the Chief Finance Officer) and Sambo Abdullahi (the Chief Internal Auditor) whom she unlawfully stopped payment of their salaries for over two years running. Sambo, after exhausting all administrative remedies, took Dr. Amobi and NBET to court for her unlawful stoppage of his salaries despite the fact that he is still a staff of NBET till date. The court gave judgment in his favour and berated Dr. Amobi for acting unlawfully and in absolute disregard of extant government regulations. She is yet to comply with the court judgement of March 11, 2020 directing her to pay Sambo’s outstanding salaries for over two years despite the fact that 21% would be accruing on the salaries after 30 days from the judgement date.
Because the interest on Sambo’s salaries is not coming from Dr Amobi’s pocket but rather from the taxpayers, she rebuffed the court.
Yesufu Alonge, who was the Head of Power Procurement and a very knowledgeable hand was frustrated out of the company by Dr. Amobi, who was always accusing him of coveting her job and scheming to unseat her. To save himself from the fate of Waziri and Sambo, Alonge tendered his resignation and left.
Abba Aliyu, the erstwhile Head of Corporate Services, suffered a similar fate and his salary is still being illegally withheld by Dr. Amobi knowing full well that she has no power to discipline management staff. The AGM legal Demvihin Tsumba was unlawfully abducted from the office at the instance of Dr. Amobi and taken to a police station on cooked up charges. The police after investigations gave her a clean bill as they didn’t find anything against her. Despite that, Dr. Amobi is still hounding her and claims that her case for dismissal is to be presented to the Board.
Late last year, she assaulted Mrs. Itohan Ehiede, the Head of Corporate Services in her office and in the presence of junior staff.
This outrageous conduct, led the entire senior management staff to write a petition calling for her removal from office. The matter is still pending but she has queried Mrs. Ehiede and has included her in the list of staff to de dismissed in her submission to the Board. The Deputy General Counsel and former Head of Procurement, Dr. Eugene Edeoga did not also escape the wrath of the outgoing MD. For failing to carry out her instructions to dismiss a staff through a disciplinary committee he chaired, Dr. Amobi visited her anger on him and issued him with several queries. She has also sworn to get rid of him and will also make a case for his dismissal to the Board.
The Head of Risks and Guaranties, Johnson Akinnawo is also in her bad books. For joining the rest of senior management staff to protest her assault on Mrs. Itohan Ehiede, he incurred the wrath of Amobi. Several times, she has summoned him to her office to berate him for daring to sign the petition and told him to his face that she will make him regret his action for the rest of his life.
Her worst anger is reserved for Dr. Nnaemeka Ewelukwa whose appointment Mr. President has approved as her replacement. She is going all out to tar him with her brush of hate and anger. A source at NBET who saw the dossier she has compiled against Dr. Ewelukwa marvelled at how an outgoing MD would have the time to compile such a dossier running into hundreds of pages against her successor, who was her General Counsel and who had served her loyally.
An uneasy silence reigns at NBET as the staff ponder on how the high-wire game of wits between the outgoing MD and her entire senior management will play out. A staff, who asked for anonymity to avoid victimization, wondered how Dr. Amobi within four years had problems with the entire nine-member senior management staff. Does it mean that not even one person is good enough for her? If she is a good person, how come that not even one out of the entire nine-man senior management staff is on her side?
Another staff wondered what Dr. Amobi learnt in all the places she boasts to have worked. In civilized climes, where she claims to have worked, once a successor is appointed, the decent thing is to take your exit. Why can’t she take one month terminal/outstanding leave and go home with some modicum of respect to take care of herself despite looking very sick? The staff stated further that Dr Amobi in an attempt to destroy sensitive documents that could be used to jail her has restricted staff entry and exit into the office while she only has unrestricted access to the office, this was communicated to the staff on Friday June 19, 2020 by the Head of Corporate Services, Ms Halima AbdulSalam.
Our sources at the Ministry of Finance said that Dr. Amobi has been advised to take her terminal leave, more so since she didn’t take any leave during her four-year stint at NBET because of fear of Waziri and Sambo might do in her absence. The Board meeting slated for Monday 22nd June, 2020 promises to be an explosive one with several directors already of the opinion that she should gracefully step aside to allow the new MD start the rebuilding of the company that has been so badly damaged by Dr. Amobi and her toxic governance.
Dr. Amobi soldiers on amidst a forlorn hope that the President could be made to reverse her sacking. She continues to run from pillar to post in her desperate attempt at reversing her dismissal. The letter from the Ministry of Finance asking that she serve out the remaining one month of her tenure has provided her with a lifeline, which she has grasped with all her strength as she continues her crocodile cry and rounds of begging amongst influential people in government.
But this government that claims to be fighting corruption seems to have been handling Dr. Amobi’s matter with kid gloves. Here’s an MD/CEO who has for long not only been indicted for corruption by at least three anti-corruption agencies in the country, but has also been found to have grossly violated public service rules by operating a private company while in public service. In a government that is truly fighting corruption, what Dr. Amobi deserves is not only an outright sack immediately but also diligent prosecution before a competent court to serve as a deterrent to like-minded public officers.