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FG Halts Plan To Acquire N5Bn Office Building For NAICOM

…..Finance Minister orders immediate recall of transferred Director of Finance and Admin

…..Sets up a probe panel to look into the process of acquisition

The Federal Government has waded into the leadership crisis rocking the National Insurance Commission.

The Network gathered that the leadership of NAICOM is sharply divided over the move by the Commissioner, Mr. Olorundare Sunday Thomas, to acquire a property in the Gudu District at a whooping N5billion for the Commission.

An investigation conducted by the Network revealed that the six directors of the Commission, the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Finance and Administration, Mr. Oba Oluniyi, and the Chairman of the Board, Dr. Abubakar Sanu, all opposed the decision of the Commissioner to acquire the property.

It was gathered that the internal process for the hurried acquisition of the property ran into a hitch when the Deputy Commission, Finance and Administration, and the Director, of Finance, advised against the acquisition of the property.

A source who confided in our correspondent said the directors and the Deputy Commissioner advised against the planned acquisition arguing that there was no cash backing for such a venture.

The top management of NAICOM was concerned that pulling out N5 billion to acquire a property at a time of grinding paucity of funds would throw the Commission and staff into crisis over welfare issues.

On Monday, the Chairman of the Governing Board led other members to inspect the building and discovered to their chagrin that the purported building was a massive carcass.

It was learnt that the Chairman of the Board, Dr. Abubakar Sani, advised against the acquisition of the building on the ground that it would require another N5 billion to complete the carcass.

The Commissioner reacted by posting the Director of Finance and Administration to Lagos. It was further gathered that he initiated a process to change the signatories to the Dollar Account of the Commission to ensure that the building was acquired without hitches.

However, as the disenchantment within the Commission increased amidst heightening tension among top officials of the Commission, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zaina Ahmed decided to intervene in the NAICOM leadership crisis.

The Network gathered that the Minister set up a Committee headed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry to look into the brewing leadership crisis threatening the Commission.

As a first step to douse the escalating tension, the Minister was said to have directed the immediate recall of the transferred Director of Finance, from Lagos to Abuja.

The Minister also directed suspension of the process of acquisition of the property. Lastly, she set up a committee to look into the process of its acquisition.

An investigation by the Network revealed that the Committee held its first meeting on Tuesday where five directors supported the position of the Chairman of the Governing Board, Abubakar Sani that there was no cash backing for the project.

The directors also declared that they did not know about the purchase as they were not informed.

Already, the workers union has written the management of NAICOM to stop processing the acquisition of the property.

The union wrote to stop the acquisition or else the place is shut down.

But the management of NAICOM in an unsigned statement on Wednesday said that a request for the acquiring of an uncompleted property was presented to the Federal Executive Council by the minister which was granted.

The Commission had before the FEC approval, obtained a certificate of “No Objection” from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) following the valuation of the property by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

The statement added that the management also obtained no objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) after the property was evaluated by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

The statement added that due diligence was conducted on the property and all approvals were secured by the Commission.

“That the management of the Commission through the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning presented to the Federal Executive Council presided over by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR an Unfinished property for approval to be acquired as NAICOM Academy and office accommodation following the approval by the immediate past Governing Board of the Commission.

“All documents relating to the property clearly state that the property was unfinished.

“The Commission had before the FEC approval, obtained a (certificate of) “No Objection” from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) following the valuation of the property by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

“Adequate due diligence was conducted on the property for acquisition and all relevant approvals were secured by the Commission.

“Provision was made in the 2022 approved annual budget of the Commission to acquire the building for the Commission.

“The building is to serve the dual purpose of housing the newly established NAICOM Academy which is an initiative of the present leadership of the Commission to address the knowledge gap in the insurance sector regulation and supervision not only in Nigeria but across Africa and beyond and also serve as the new head office of the Commission.

“To address the problem of low insurance penetration, entrench the culture of insurance in every part of the country and enhance the effectiveness of its surveillance in all the geopolitical zones of the country, the expansion of the Commission’s infrastructural facilities is inevitable thus the Commission requires a befitting Office accommodation to curtail any future office space crises.” The statement read in part.

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