The Many Sins of Onagoruwa

Bolanle Onagoruwa
Bolanle Onagoruwa

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.

2 thoughts on “The Many Sins of Onagoruwa

  1. The sack of onagoruwa is not an issue to bore the heart of well meaning Nigerians. BPE has always played a script of some individuals that sees themselves as the most prominent Nigerians. Again the selling of the public enterprises without properly articulating and defining agreements that will be people oriented rather than serving the business interest of some foreigners with their Nigerian anchormen under the disguise of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The misgivings that trailed the port Biding and concessioning agreement of 2006, without observing a structured port concessioning processes still leaves nigerian more impOverished than ever, dut to a Private Sector Monopoly. The consequence effect of this is that, Nigerian Port environment remains the most expensive within the subregion. From my informed stand, the Government, out of greed is signatory to and hold seldom to the international Treaties, such as TRIMS(Trade related investment treaties): this treaties was structured to deny and remove from the host Nation the local content requirements; the export requirements; the foreign exchange requirements etc. secondly is the assenting to BIT(Bilateral Investment Treaties) agreements- removing regulatory power from the host Nation over the
    Socalled Investors. Here again the role of the Nigerian local Content Board comes to mind, but the truth is that, BPE should define the INTEREST it’s protecting is the Nigerians interest or the interest of some politicians within the corridor of power? Until this question is genuinely answered, BPE will remain an instrument of monopolizing common wealth.

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