Buhari overrules Power Minister, reverses suspension of Rural Electrification Agency head

Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman (Photo Credit: Pulse)
Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman (Photo Credit: Pulse)

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the reversal of the suspension of the immediate past Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi.

Mr Buhari ordered the reversal of the suspension on Tuesday, in clear overrule of an earlier directive given by the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman.

Last December, Mr Mamman suspended Mrs Ogunbiyi over perceived “infractions” and poor performance in the agency.

Mrs Ogunbiyi has since joined the United Nations.

Background

PREMIUM TIMES reported how two key agencies under the power ministry have been dogged by controversies in the past weeks. This newspaper exclusively reported the appointment of a former mid-level civil servant, Salihijo Ahmad, as the managing director and Chief Executive Officer of a crucial electrification agency, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).

Checks by the newspaper revealed that the new REA boss is a former Level 12 public official at the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) which he is said to have exited in 2018. He is also the son of late Salihijo Mohammed Ahmed, a former managing director of Afri-Project Consortium.

Sources in the power sector queried the appointment, saying the claim by the power minister that the new appointee has ‘vast experience’ in the sector is false.

Similarly, there has been palpable tension at the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading PLC after its embattled Managing Director, Marilyn Amobi, was suspended. PREMIUM TIMES reported how nine top officials of the bulk trader were arrested and detained by the State Security Services.

On Monday, Mr Mamman came under attack after a press statement reacting to reports of the controversial appointments made by the minister described many Nigerians as “wailers”.

The press statement, signed by Aaron Artimas, Special Adviser on Media and Communications to the minister of power, also described officials affected by the minister’s decision as people who “are not susceptible to relinquishing public office even after exhausting their welcome or in the face of apparent failure to perform.”

Mr Artimas also argued that the decisions were taken by the minister because, despite the huge resources President Muhammadu Buhari “poured” into the power ministry for over four years, there has been no tangible result. He attributed the failure to the “poor performance” of the officials affected by the minister’s new decision, calling on Nigerians to ask question on why there has been no improvement in the sector.

Presidency Counters Minister

But on Tuesday, Mr Buhari overruled Mr Mamman on his decision to remove the former REA boss.

The presidency in a tweet “directed that the suspension of Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi from her role as Managing Director of @realREANigeria, be reversed.”

Her resignation, effective December 31, 2019, has been accepted to enable her take up her new appointment at the United Nations, the statement said.


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