The Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Sam Amadi, has described himself as a prudent and exemplary public officer who has never taken a bribe or misappropriated public funds.
Mr. Amadi said this in a Facebook post in reaction to a report suggesting he approved N2.7 billion severance allowance and gratuity for seven members of the board of the NERC.
He said the manner he is discharging his responsibilities as head of the NERC – cutting expenses by avoiding frivolous spending unlike most public officials – is worthy of emulating.
“I am an exemplary public officer,” Mr. Amadi said in the post. “I have not taken one kobo bribe. I have not done any contract in any guise. I have not made any decision for pecuniary or personal gain.
“I have kept the faith. God is my witness. Nigerians who are not murderously after the position of NERC Chairman for political or pecuniary interest will endorse my competence and integrity.”
He said he had shunned extravagant spending such as flying first class and maintaining multiple official vehicles like most public officers in his position do.
“In 2010 I banned flying of first class cabin in any airline,” the NERC boss said. “We are the only agency of government that obeys government circular that no person, from minister to the last person should fly first class. The difference between first class and business class is huge.
“In many agencies, commissioners or board members have 3 or 4 cars that are fully fueled and maintained by the agency. In our case, the agency repairs and fuels only one car and the commissioner repairs and fuels the rest. This results in huge savings. I don’t have police or SSS services.
“I drive myself on weekends. My official car does not stay in my house. It returns to the office after work everyday. I doubt if another public officer does that.”
He stated that the story of the N2.7 billion severance allowance published by a national newspaper was a “ruse” and the work of a “political gang” that wanted him out the commission.
According to the story, the board of NERC, also headed by Mr Amadi, set aside the money to be paid to its members at the end of their tenure on December 22, 2015.
The paper reported that the sharing ratio was such that Mr. Amadi would get N400 million while other members of the board receive N380 million each.
Mr. Amadi claimed the story was part of a script by people who desperately wanted him out of the NERC.
“Don’t be fooled. This is an attack against Dr Sam Amadi so that he does not continue as NERC Chairman. It is a political attack against a man who has a deserved reputation of incorruptibility,” he wrote.
He claimed the reporter who wrote the story did not seize the opportunity he offered him to do a balanced story when he (Mr Amadi) was contacted.
“I told him the information is false and asked him to come to the office in the morning to get all the documents so he can do an accurate report. He said he would do so but an hour later informed me that his editor wants to do the report without verifying the facts.
Mr. Amadi further explain that contrary to the report, he did not approve N2.7 billion to be shared as severance allowance.
He said a pension fund was established for NERC by former commissioners of the agency in 2006 and funded to the tune of N500,000.00.
He said with additional allocation, the pension fund had grown to N2.7 billion.
The money, he said, belonged to NERC’s 164 staff.
Mr. Amadi said, “The details of the Severance Scheme were further provided for by the former Administrator in the Staff Handbook. That Handbook also included allowances on the basis of which severance is calculated for staff.
“The new commissioners recognized the resolutions and regulations of previous administrations. Through prudent management of finances we shared sufficient money to open a mortgage facility for every staff and increased the funding of the existing staff severance scheme by N2.7billion.
“The funding of the Severance Scheme is mandated by the Pension Act. We selected 3 reputable PFAs, including IBTC and ARM, to manage the fund. The Pension Commission requires that you do an actuarial evaluation of the staff salaries and allowance to determine the amount of the funding of the scheme.
“After the firm of Sada & Associate recommended the amount that will cover the entire employees of the commission, the Commissioners approved N2.7 billion and transferred N2.billion to the fund to cover the obligations that will trigger upon retirement of any staff
“The N2.7 billion is to cover 164 NERC staff. This is the sort of fiscal planning that the Pension Act recommends. Today that government seems to be broke, if a staff of NERC retires now he or she would be paid her lawful entitlement without running to CBN for bailout. This is what PENCOM recommends. We are ahead of everyone in being financially disciplined
“It is lie from hell that we approved N400million and N380million for Chairman and Commissioners. We only resolved that all NERC staff and commissioners shall be paid severance at the rate of 100% of the gross earning as provided for in the schedule to the Pension Act. We pegged our severance to the provision of PENSION Act. nothing extra. So, where is the crime or corruption?”