THE Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NiDCOM, has narrated how Ali Patani, minister of communications and digital economy, chased its staff out of the office complex allocated to them.According to NiDCOM, the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, offered its annex office located at Mbora District, Abuja, to NiDCOM.NiDCOM, in a statement made available to Realnews on Sunday, May 24, stated that the offer was made at one of the meetings held with Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, at Maitama, Abuja, in June 2019.The statement signed by Abdur-Rahman Balogun, head, Media and Public Relations Unit, NIDCOM, Abuja, said “subsequently, directives were given to Maryam Bayi, director human resources, who liaised with NiDCOM staff and delivered the building to the Commission.“Furthermore, as part of its goodwill gesture, NCC then approved and supplied some furniture items to NiDCOM which was received in December 2019,” he said, adding that “The furniture supplied were similar to those supplied to NCC, so as tofit into the design of the building.”Balogun said that NiDCOM upon taking delivery of the building made provision of some furniture’s, equipment’s and infrastructures in the building. It proceeded to install workstations for over 140 staff of the Commission which was completed by November 2019.It also went ahead to install a PABX supported International Call centre in conjunction with Airtel Nigeria Ltd. Likewise, since the executive offices were not tiled, ceramic tiles that were already bought were installed the same week the evacuation notice was given. That is, the Commission commenced the installation of high-quality ceramic tiles in the offices of the executive’s officers on the 5th floor which was occupied by the Commission. This went on alongside painting works, general plumbing and fixing of doors handles etc.Prior to this, the Department of Technology Transfer and Innovation of the Commission and some staff of Finance department, and administration moved into the building at the end of October 2019 while the other departments followed subsequently.The executive chairman’s office was also in preparation for her to move by mid-February 2020. This movement into the building required that several computing and electronic devices as well as many sensitive documents and personal belongings were also moved.“On the 9th February, 2020, the Chairman of NiDCOM was notified by the EVC of NCC on the need to evacuate the building within one week without any prior notice. This was said to be on the instruction of the Hon. Minister of Communications & Digital Economy who also want to occupy the same office space & location. The Chairman was at that time on an official Predidential delegation to Ethiopia“By Tuesday, 11th February, 2020, just two days after the initial notice which gave one-week ultimatum, the staff of NiDCOM were denied access into their offices by armed security men from the NSDC who ordered them not to go into the fifth floor office of the commission.“Thereafter, the Director Special Duties of NCC informed NiDCOM staffthat he is acting on the instruction from the Hon Minister Pantami to evacuate / refuse them entry into the building until further directive is given.“The NiDCOM staff obliged on the instruction of the executive chairman ofthe Commission not to resist the directive and complied on the conditionthat no items in any of the offices will be tampered with until the management of the two agencies involved agree on the modus-operandi.“Unfortunately, on Friday, 14th February, after the Chairman returned fromEthiopia a day before, she visited the complex to shockingly find thatoffices were broken into and all items including the 140 work stations, personal computers, printers, sensitive documents and personal belongings of staff were carted away. The call centre was locked up.”He listed some of the items which NiDCOM believes have been carted away as two units of single face data ports; 24 port patch panel; 1 Mikrotik RB 750G; 1 Mikrotik cloud router switch; 2 Headsets with microphones; 2 Digital PABX; 1 4u Server racks; Patch cables; 3 UPS; 1 HP desk jet 1012 all in one printer; 1 HP desk jet all in one printer (brand-new with the Carton); 1 Mercury UPS (brand-new with the Carton); 1 Ellington extension cable (brand-new); 2 3meter extension boxes; Data Antenna; 7 HP All in one desktop; Camera tripod; Cannon 700 digital camera; Xenon laptop; 144 Work stations & 144 Swivel office chairs; 2 Meter mini conference table; 6 Conference table chair and 3 Meter executive office furniture set.Others are 1 Executive sofa set; 4 Executive office furniture set; 12 Executive office visitors’ chairs; 5 4-seater work stations; 2 Reclineable executive chairs; 4 Ergonomic executive office chairs with lumbar support; Technology Transfer & Innovation department files and documents; Legal department files and documents; Accounts department files and documents; secretary to the Commission’s office entire files and documents; Admin department entire files and documents; Diaspora relations department entire files and documents; Media department entire files and documents; Roll up banners; Staff personal belonging such as printers, UPS, extension cables, stationeries (cartons of Chamex papers, staplers, pins, notice board) files & documents & toiletries etc., and 140 work stations.According to NiDCOM, “It is our humble opinion that an agency of government ought not to be shabbily treated in a dehumanising manner.“The Hon. Minister, should have acknowledged the fact that the aim ofNiDCOM for using the office spaces was not for personal functions but rather for governmental functions with regards to Diaspora engagements.
“The Hon. Minister should have seen the need to give the Chairman of theCommission audience so as to let the Commission staff evacuate theirbelongings by themselves rather than breaking into the offices withouttheir consent.“The Commission still has no access to all equipment, furniture and otheritems carted away on the instructions of the Minister.“The Hon Minister’s claim that the space was allocated for years isdefinitely false as NIDCOM is just one year in existence.“We must, however, thank the Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Hon. AbikeDabiri-Erewa, who despite all these was determined to ensure that thework of the Commission did not suffer in any way through her doggednessand dynamism.“As stated in the Chairman’s remarks as the commission marked its oneyear in office, the Hon. Minister’s arrogance and utmost humiliation ofa government agency is totally unwarranted.“However, the commission has since moved on, and put the ugly incidentbehind it as it looks forward to settling into any available office space after the Covid-19 lockdown.”
– May 25, 2020 @ 12:01 GMT /
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