Re: Must Wike sack all FCTA agency heads?
FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike
By Bamidele Akinola Ogundana
Above caption was a piece published in The Authority Newspaper, October 4 2023 edition and it quickly caught my attention. The reason being that as one who has been around for a while in the FCT and who expects more than the Administration has offered so far, one was excited at the announcement of Barrister Nyesom Wike as the Minister, FCT.
Wike was coming from a last job well delivered for the people of Rivers State and those of us in the FCT were encouraged in the hope that there is going to be a semblance of real governance; something that can only be compared to the administration of the immediate-past Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, then as FCT Minister.
Expectations from the current FCT Administration has no doubt increased the interest of the resident in Governance and that is why every policy pronouncement made by Wike attracts more than a passing attention.
The issue at discussion is one of them. Wike had about two weeks ago removed the heads of 21 Agencies in the FCTA and the wisdom behind that sweeping directive is being put to question by the referenced write up.
My immediate response on reading the above was ‘no, he needn’t sack all if he doesn’t have to’. But then, can he sack even more than that number? To that I say ‘yes, if he has to’.
As for the career civil servants who were affected, my understanding is that Wike does not have to retire them- and he didn’t retire them to the best of my knowledge. But it is within his power to remove them as heads of those Agencies if by his own estimation, they do not fit into his plan.
What this means is that they could be redeployed to other offices or taken back to the pool, and it has happened before. This view is not to discount the capacity of these Directors but to buttress the fact that the Minister is at liberty to choose his team.
Then, for the political appointees, it goes without saying that their continued stay in office is at the mercy of the Authority who appointed them in the first place and it does not matter how long they may have stayed.
This brings me to the case of the sacked Managing Director of Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company (AUMTCO), Mallam Najeeb Abdulsalam. Mallam Najeeb was said to have been appointed just three months before his sack.
The reason his sack is being questioned is that his former staff protested against it. They reportedly claimed that he has done what no other CEO has done in the history of that company. But what exactly did he do? I am not sure any of the protester said so. What could he have done in 3 months? May be give them hope, put processes in place that are likely to yield desired result. Was that enough to insist that he must continue to stay? After all the ‘magical performances’, (in the voice of the minister), where are the buses?
Let us assume without conceding that Mallam Najeeb of AUMTCO provided an array of hope for the workers of the Transport Company and may have delivered, had Wike not fired him. On what basis should someone lump Mallam Najeeb whom his staff shed tears for (even if crocodile’s type)- to another CEO whom his own staff and traders across the markets of the FCT had protested against his protracted stay in office.
In the said write up, Wike was also vilified for not considering that the sacked Managing Director of Abuja Markets Management Limited, Abubakar Usman Faruk ‘was just reinstated by series of court orders less than three months ago’.
The write conveniently ignored the ugly details surrounding Abubakar Usman Faruk’s stay at AMML, in an effort at misleading the reading public to believing that the Minister’s action was not thought through. A simple Google search of the name would have given the writer more than he bargained for, had he cared to.
Abubakar Usman Faruk was appointed by then FCT Minister Adamu Aliero in April 4 2009. He was there until 2020 when the erstwhile Minister Mohammed Musa Bello redeployed him following allegation of land grabbing and confiscating Government plots not in any way related to either him or the office he occupied, to embark on market project to the tune of about N5 Billion (at UTC Area 7 Garki Abuja) without approval from any quarter.
He was directed to hand over to the most senior staff of AMML then and report to the office of Director Human Resources, FCTA. He complied with this directives for three whole years within which he drew full salaries and allowance from AMML, some even upfront to 2024.
At the twilight of the then Administration, the then Minister finally directed that he should be relieved of his office. He learnt of it and proceeded to court to challenge his three year old redeployment.
When the then Minister reconstituted some boards including that of AMML, he again approached another court to challenge the legality of the board so reconstituted, sensing that the Board was going to sound a final nail to his unending stay.
The court ruled that he was still a director of AMML going by the provision of CAMA 2020 but nowhere in the ruling was he reinstated as the MD of AMML as suggested by the said write up. Even at that, he still went ahead, embarking on self-help to force himself into the office of the managing director, AMML. The Federal High Court has indeed disowned that process.
Also, the owners of the Company made up of Abuja Investments Company Limited and Federal Capital Territory Administration sitting at an Extra-ordinary General Meeting on the 17th of July 2023, relieved Mr. Faruk of his job for ‘services no longer required’.
So Faruk has been fired before and no court has reinstated him, but because he took advantage of a seeming vacuum in Government to deploy unorthodox means (including use of armed vigilantes and tugs to barricade the Head office of the Company), he managed to hang around warranting Wike to sack him again.
If there is just one person that should be fired among that 21 Heads of FCT Agencies, one does not see any other person more qualified than a CEO who has stayed a record 15 years in office including a 3 years of no work but full pay- and above all, had the nerve to challenge the authority that appointed him.
Using Abubakar Faruk as a reason Wike shouldn’t have fired Heads of FCT Agencies exposes the writer’s insidious motive- a weak attempt at justifying why the man who is now described as the emperor of AMML has continued to disregard the Ministerial directive to hand over to the most senior officer of the Agency, two weeks after.
It is being whispered around FCTA Secretariat corridors of the impending retirement of the permanent secretary and takeover by a Director in acting capacity; who was said to have assured that he would advise Wike to let Faruk be.
The Minister has his job cut out for him and should go ahead to deliver on it by ensuring that he immediately appoint people with shared vision and competence into those vacant positions.
The duty of all well-meaning FCTA officials and residents is to support Wike to achieve the Abuja of our dream, because we can all see that he is in a hurry to do so.