Sack of TCN boss pits SGF Against COS

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Edozie Udeojo, Abuja

The sack of the former managing director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Mr. Usman Mohammed, appears to have pitted the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, against the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and organised labour.

Labour has alleged that the SGF queried the sacking of Mohammed, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari through the Office of the CoS.

Gambari, in the letter titled “Re: Aligning the Transmission Company of Nigeria with the Presidential Power Initiative” addressed to the Minister of Power, said: “Further to your submission on the above subject, kindly be advised that the President has approved the immediate removal of the current managing director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Usman Gur Mohammed, directed that Sure Abdulaziz be installed as acting managing director pending your submission of a substantive list for the board and executive management of the TCN.”

But immediately the TCN MD was sacked, the SGF released a circular on what should be the procedure for the removal of heads of public agencies in the country, in what was considered a response to the sack of the TCN boss without his consent.

Mustapha, in the circular, condemned the “arbitrary removal” of chief executive officers (CEOs) of government agencies and parastatals given the attendant impact on the stability and service delivery of the agencies.”

He stated emphatically that no minister had the power to unilaterally remove CEOs of agencies without going through the disciplinary procedure approved by the President for erring heads of agencies.

“When an act bordering on serious misconduct against a chief executive officer is reported, it shall be the duty of the supervising minister through the permanent secretary to refer the matter to the governing board for necessary action. The board shall, in line with due process, issue him/her a query requesting an explanation with respect to the specific act(s) complained about; the board shall forward its findings and recommendations to the minister for further consideration and necessary action; upon receipt of the submission from the minister, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation shall without delay cause an independent investigation and advise Mr. President on the appropriate course of action.”

But some stakeholders in the power sector alleged that the SGF’s directive was specifically targeted at the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, wondering what interest Mustapha had in the power sector.

A competent source told Daily Sun that President Buhari had directed all correspondences to be channelled through his Chief of Staff, insisting that Mustapha’s action was a direct affront on the orders of the President.

“It is important to note that this removal of the TCN MD was a directive of the President, which was passed through the minister of power, and the minister is the person that the President sent to the power sector to go and do the necessary reforms in the sector, with a view to improving the power situation of the country.

“The SGF is asking and actually asserting that the President did not follow due process by issuing a memo and a circular to all the ministers, insisting that none of the ministers has power to remove or recommend the removal of any of the heads of parastatals under their ministries,” said the source that preferred to remain anonymous.

In the same vein, the labour movement expressed shock on the circular, saying the aim was to restore the former TCN MD to office. In a letter to President Buhari, signed by the general secretary, Umar Abubakar Dubagari, labour declared that the unions in the power sector would go on strike if the sacked MD be reinstated.

“Your Excellency is hereby notified of pending labour action by our union and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the unlikely event that the circular restores UG Mohammed to TCN and if the wrongful termination of our president is not reversed immediately,” the letter read.

The Senior Staff Association of Electrical and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) recently protested the sacking of its president, Chris Okonkwo, a general manager and career officer by the former TCN MD. The union questioned the SGF’s circular, demanding to know why it was issued on the same date that the President approved the removal of Mohammed.

“Why did the circular seem to make the ministers helpless and dependent on SGF to act in the ministries? How could it be explained that the circular is not a reaction to and an act of insubordination to the President and his Chief of Staff?” the union queried.

Meanwhile, a coalition of 21 stakeholder-civil society groups, drawn from the National Power Sector Stakeholders’ Forum (NPSSF), also urged the President to call Mustapha to order for what it described as the usurpation of the statutory powers of cabinet ministers.

The group warned that the desperate and vexations actions of the SGF were capable of derailing the vision and eroding the legacy of the Buhari administration.

A communique signed by its national coordinator, Mr. Musa Dawop, called on the President to investigate the special interest of the SGF in power ministry.

The group stated that many stakeholders were aware that, since the sacking of the former TCN MD, the SGF has been working round the clock to bring him back.

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