The Many Sins of Onagoruwa

9 years ago | 127


Bolanle Onagoruwa, the sacked director-general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, made more enemies than friends in the way she handled the sale of some government assets in recent times

|  By Ishaya Ibrahim  |  Dec. 10, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT

TO some officials of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, the news of the Federal Government’s sack of Bolanle Onagoruwa as the director general, DG, of the agency, came as a thunderbolt. The officials had argued that the Federal Government was mean to have fired her after she had successfully concluded the sales of the knotty Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.

The job, according to them, was not a mean feat for anybody to achieve, but Onagoruwa made it happen. When prodded to reveal the actual reason for her sack, one of the officials said: “Did they tell me before they appointed her? We are like soldiers come soldiers go while Barracks remain. I am just a bloody civil servant. They did not tell me anything.”

But the sale of the PHCN which some of the officials are touting as her greatest achievement, might have been one of her problems. Observers said the exercise did not only drag on for a very long time, it was also alleged to have been marred by favouritism as Integrated Energy Distribution & Marketing Limited, believed to be owned by Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state, won the most of the juicy distribution companies, DISCOs. The company bid for the Yola Distribution Company, Ibadan Distribution Company, Eko Distribution Company, and Ikeja Distribution Company and won two out of the four companies.

But that was not the only ‘sin’ of Onagoruwa. In December 2011, a panel set up by the Senate to investigate the sale of government businesses, found her wanting in the sales of some federal government interests. The panel accused her of gross incompetence, favourism and lack of sound ideas and therefore, recommended her sack as head of the Bureau. The Senate ratified the recommendation, which was then forwarded to the Presidency. But President Goodluck Jonathan did not take any action against her.

Another problem with the BPE under Onagoruwa was the way it handled the judgment of the Supreme Court of July 6, this year which gave ruling in favour of the BFI Group Corporation in the disputed ownership of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, ALSCON. The Supreme Court ruled that UC Rusal, the Russian firm that bought the smelter company from the BPE for $3.2 billion, was not the rightful winner of the bid. The court then ordered the transfer of the smelter company to its rightful owners, BFI Group Corporation. But five months after the ruling, the BPE was yet to act on the court order, thereby allowing the company’s assets to be drastically stripped by UC Rusal.

The Onagoruwa-led BPE was also enmeshed in the controversy that trailed the handling of the Canada’s Manitoba Hydro Electric Board agreement in July, this year. The Bureau had validated the power-management contract signed by Canada’s Manitoba Hydro Electric Board in July to run the Transmission Company of Nigeria. But on November 14, Reuben Abati, the special adviser to the President on media and publicity, announced the cancellation of the contract saying the correct procedure was not followed. But there was a shift on government position later when the President, in his last media chat on November 18, said although Manitoba’s ‘deal’ did not follow the law strictly, the contract had not been terminated.

Onagoruwa was removed from her post on Tuesday, November 28. A statement by Umar Sani, senior special assistant on media and publicity to Vice President Namadi Sambo, who announced her removal, said she had been ordered to hand over to Benjamin Ezra Dikki, the most senior director in the BPE. Dikki, who holds the position in an acting capacity, was until his appointment, the Director, Industry & Services Department of the BPE.

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