By Henry Umoru, Joseph Erunke & Chris Ochai
ABUJA— The management crisis rocking the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, took a different dimension, yesterday, as staff accused a cabal of allegedly using the appointment of Usman Gur Mohammed as ploy to cede the agency to African Development Bank, AfDB.
But Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, told the National Assembly in a swift reaction. yesterday, that the appointment of Mohammed as interim managing director of the company was not a condition for the $174 million loan facility the company expected to get from the AfDB.
However, TCN staff, under the aegis of Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees, NUEEE, and Senior Staff Association Electricity Employees, SSAEE, who made the accusation in Abuja, insisted that AfDB would not take control of TCN simply because it was about to grant loans to the TCN.
Threaten to shutdown transmission network
The Chairman, FCT Council of NUEE, Mr Wilson Nwachukwu and Deputy General Secretary of SSAEE, Mr Nnamdi Ajibo, warned of possible shut down of entire transmission network, if nothing was done to arrest the situation.
It would be recalled that the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Louis Edozien, had last Friday announced approval of the secondment of Alhaji Usman Gur Mohammed of the AfDB as interim Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the TCN.
But the workers, while rejecting the appointment of Mohammed, accused the permanent secretary of violating the position of the National Assembly which said both parties should maintain the status quo.
Comrade Nwachukwu said: “Mohammed was drafted by the permanent secretary to take over from the current MD/COE without due process and a clear explanation on what the accountant was coming to do as the MD of TCN. But on a good note, we know he is coming to destroy and not to build.
“Nobody is against Mohammed but let the right thing be done. Let all parties be carried along. Nothing should be done as if the country or TCN is now a secret cult.”
Mohammed suspends company’s accounts
Meanwhile, Mohammed has placed temporary suspensions on payments, award of contracts and issuance of Local Purchase Orders, LPOs, in the company.
An internal memo dated February 3, 2017, and signed by Mr Mohammed, a copy of which was obtained by Vanguard, stated: “Sequel to my assumption of duty on appointment as Transitional Chief Executive Officer of TCN, and in view of effecting controls on our payment systems, repositioning the organisation for greater transparency and improved efficiency, you are hereby directed to suspend all payments in all TCN related accounts with immediate effect.
“This comprises all payments of capital projects through GIFMIS account, REMITA payment platform, via Treasury Single Account, TSA, with CBN and payment via CBN foreign transaction accounts in HQ, except operational activities which must have the approval of the Transitional Chief Executive Officer, TCN.”
Appointment of TCN boss not condition for AfDB loan —Fashola
Meanwhile, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Fashola, told the National Assembly in Abuja, yesterday, that Mohammed’s appointment was not a condition for the loan facility from the bank.
Speaking in Abuja when he appeared before the Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe-led Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy and House of Representatives Joint Committee, led by Daniel Asuquo, Fashola explained that the replacement of Atiku Abubakar with Mohammed did not breach any law because the position had been vacant.
The minister, who noted that Muhammed’s appointment could not be reversed, against the backdrop that it was carried out in line in with a Presidential directive, said the President had the prerogative of making any political appointment.
Speaking further, Fashola explained that Mohammed had previously worked in the power sector for 17 and half years as head of Finance.
He also said there had been series of petitions and infighting among Manitoba, the managing consulting firm hired by Federal Government for TCN and previous management of TCN.