…How I rejected attempt by NABTEB Registrar to bribe me with contract, he claims
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA-A superiority contest between the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and Chairman of the recently dissolved Governing Board of the National Business and Technical Examinations Board, NABTEB, Professor Leonard Shilgba, appeared yesterday, as the latter claimed that he was still in office, saying President Muhammadu Buhari was not aware of dissolution of the board as announced by the Federal Ministry of Education.
Recall that the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Arch. Sonny Echocho, had in a statement, Monday, announced that the president approved the dissolution of the governing board headed by prof. Shilgba, following contravention of laid down rules of the board.
But in a statement, in Abuja, yesterday, Shilgba, who addressed himself as Chairman of NABTEB, insisted that the purported announcement declaring the dissolution of the board was the handiwork of the ministry without the consent of the president.
He also disclosed that the Registrar of NABTEB, Professor Isuigo-Abanihe, attempted to bribe him with a contract after she was found guilty of corruption by a committee set up by the board to carry out investigation following allegations of unwholesome practices in NABTEB.
He, however, said if actually the president was aware of the dissolution of the board given the monumental fraud in the NABTEB which the board uncovered, the much talked about fight against corruption by his administration would leave much to be desired.
He said: “Since the inauguration, the Governing Board of NABTEB has taken steps to “reposition and refocus NABTEB for greater efficiency, and render its performance more responsive to the expectations of the present administration” rather than what we met on ground, where NABTEB was being run on a deficit, votes for Examination monitoring shared by greedy people, contract sums paid for no job done, contracts inflated, senior NABTEB staff owing millions of naira of unremitted Examination registration fees, staff oppressed and suspended indefinitely for years, with no closure, staff payroll raided, salaries arbitrarily deducted, external auditors bribed to cover unsavory finds, integrity of Examinations compromised, and public awareness of the agency was low. Maybe we are momentary victims of truth and uprightness,but ultimate victory is with the upright; maybe we are too uncompromising.
“Maybe our readiness and disposition to question expenditure of NABTEB funds, and steps being taken to stop sharp practices during Examination registration by introducing online registration and payment platforms have together threatened some entrenched interests.
” But, we have documents, which shall be unveiled for public scrutiny, and to interrogate the seriousness of governance in this administration. And maybe, the President’s name is just being dropped without him being aware of what is being insinuated.
On behalf of the Governing Board of NABTEB,
“I call on President Buhari to not allow his battle against corruption to be compromised by those who are in his government, but who don’t share his ideals. Credible Governing Boards are a great firewall against the virus of corruption in public service. Our Governing Board is proud of its record so far, and we feel compassion for NABTEB staff who may feel cheated by the press statement signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, and by the Government, if conspiracies against transparency, good, and prudence are allowed to stand, avoidably so.”
The statement read thus:”The attention of the Governing Board of National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) has been drawn to a report in the newspapers of a Press Statement released by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny S. T. Echono, fnia, to the effect that “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the dissolution of the Governing Board of National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) with immediate effect.”
“Let me quickly go through the chronology of events that have led to this unfortunate press statement from the Federal Ministry of Education in the name of President Buhari, whose cardinal agenda is fight against corruption:
“On March 23, 2018, a day after the inauguration of the Governing Board of NABTEB by the Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, the Governing Board, in a letter referenced NABTEB/GB/CH/D0002, requested certain documents and pieces of information from the Registrar of NABTEB, Professor Ifeoma M. Isuigo-Abanihe.
” It was on Friday, April 13, 2018, that she submitted some of them to the Chairman, while until now stonewalling on some vital pieces of information, which are required to guide the Board in decision-making. The Chairman, not only has been forwarding letters on the matter to the honourable Minister of Education, but also sent him a text, expressing concerns about the stonewalling.
“The Minister replied, and gave him his best wishes, and intimated that the Chairman did not need an appointment to meet with him in his office in Abuja anytime he was in the office.
“Professor Isuigo-Abanihe, having failed to respond to Matters Arising from the submitted documents, which request was made by the Chairman in a letter referenced NABTEB/GB/CH/QS 001, and dated April 18, 2018 (which also was forwarded to both Minister Adamu Adamu and Permanent Secretary Achono), she was again sent a reminder via a letter referenced NABTEB/GB/CH/QS 002.
“On Monday, May 7, 2018, she sent a letter referenced BTEB/BRD/2/VOL. II/106, after her attempt to bribe the Chairman with a contract failed, even as the Chairman rejected the offer. She could not address the issues raised in the letter referenced NABTEB/GB/CH/QS 001.
“On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, the Chairman gave Professor Isuigo-Abanihe an official query referenced NABTEB/GB/CH/QS 003, which she was requested to respond to in writing within 48 hours. Unfortunately, she refused, failed, and neglected to respond as instructed.
“On Wednesday May 9, 2018, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Arc. Achono, wrote the Chairman a three-paragraph letter referenced DTSE/D/745/C.194/1/10, and dated May 8, 2018, without copying the honourable Minister of Education, in which he said, “The attention of the Ministry has been drawn to some actions and activities credited to the Governing Board, which are at variance with the statutory role of the Board as prescribed by law and extant circulars.”
“He never cited those actions, but it was suspicious that the letter coincided with the time of the official query issued the Registrar, which the Governing Board has statutory powers to issue in accordance with section 6 (2) of NABTEB Act, which strangely, was cited in the press statement purportedly dissolving the Board of NABTEB (I shall come to this later). He also invited the Chairman to a private meeting in his office on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 11: 00 am, which is in violation of the principles of the ADMINISTRATIVE GUIDELINES REGULATING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARASTATALS/GOVERNMENT-OWNED COMPANIES AND THE GOVERNMENT.
“And the Chairman, in his five-page response via a letter referenced NABTEB/GB/CH/PSE/001, and copied to the honourable Minister of Education, not only drew his attention to this, but also to the functions of the Governing Board (contained both in the NABTEB Establishment Act and ADMINISTRATIVE GUIDELINES REGULATING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARASTATALS/GOVERNMENT-OWNED COMPANIES AND THE GOVERNMENT. “