Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa
By Muhammad Bello in Abuja and Emma Okonji
The Federal Government Tuesday sacked the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa, as well as Dr. Bashir Gwandu as the Executive Commissioner in charge of the Engineering and Technology Standards in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Although no reason was given for her removal, THISDAY learnt that it might not be unconnected with the call by the Senate for her removal several months ago.
In her place, the Federal Government directed the most senior director in the BPE, Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki, to take over the affairs of the privatisation agency in an acting capacity.
Earlier this year, the Senate had adopted the report of its Ad Hoc Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, which had recommended that Onagoruwa be relieved of her position for alleged gross incompetence, and the illegal and fraudulent sale of the five per cent of Federal Government’s shares in Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited.
Similarly, the House of Representatives also prevailed on President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Onagoruwa.
The demand for her sack by both chambers was predicated on the wholesome adoption of the recommendations of the Senate committee that had investigated the sale of public enterprises through the privatisation programme since 1999.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Umar Sani, Tuesday, read: “The Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa, has been relieved of her appointment with immediate effect.”
The president's spokesperson, Dr. Reuben Abati, had explained, that the president who has the power to hire and fire initially tarried when the legislators sought for the removal of both Onagoruwa and the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh.
But in a surprise move Tuesday, the vice-president’s office took her job away after she had served for two years.
“She is to hand over to the most senior director in the bureau, Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki, who is to hold the position in an acting capacity,” the statement said.
The statement added: “Mr. President extends his sincere appreciation to Ms. Bolanle Onogoruwa for her services to the nation and wishes her the best in her future endeavours.”
Dikki was until his appointment as acting director general the Director of Industries and Services at the BPE.
He was born on December 30, 1958 and is a 1980 accounting graduate of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. Dikki also holds an MBA from the same university and is a licensed stock broker.
The acting DG, who is from Zuru Local Government Area of Kebbi State, joined the BPE as a director on December 1, 2004 and has served in many departments, starting out as the Director of Power and Communications.
He has also served as Director, Finance and Management Support, Director, Transport and Aviation, and Director Communications and Capital Market.
As Dikki takes over the helm at the BPE, the NCC yesterday announced the sack of Gwandu by the Federal Government.
Director, Public Affairs for NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, who broke the news of the sack to THISDAY, said the letter, which was signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, took effect from November 9, 2012.
According to Ojobo, Gwandu was sacked for a proven case of gross insubordination to the current leadership of NCC.
“The board of NCC and the Ministry of Communications Technology investigated the allegations brought against NCC's leadership by Gwandu and found that they were false and unfounded and also discovered overwhelming insubordination by Gwandu,” Ojobo said.
He said Gwandu had alleged that the NCC sold the 450 MHz frequency band allegedly belonging to the police, to OpenSkys Limited, inspite of the commission’s explanation that it undertook the sale following laid down rules and due process.
NCC said the sale was not only in compliance with the Nigerian Communications Act, but also in full implementation of a presidential directive of July 5, 2007, but Gwandu had granted press interviews alleging double standards on the part of NCC, thereby discrediting the leadership of the NCC before the public.
Based on Gwandu’s allegations, the Ministry of Police Affairs had accused NCC of re-selling the spectrum to OpenSkys Limited, after it had been sold to the police, alleging that the re-sale had hindered the police commission from rolling out its security-based communications network.
Although the allegations were embarrassing for the NCC, the commission was unable to take any action against Gwandu, because it was investigating the allegations.
According to an inside source, Gwandu's grouse may not be unconnected with his long held desire to be appointed executive-vice chairman (EVC) of the NCC, a position he lost about two years ago when its former EVC, Ernest Ndukwe, stepped down.
Immediately after Ndukwe retired in 2010, Gwuandu was made acting EVC, but was replaced by a substantive EVC, Mr. Eugene Juwah.
Ever since then, Gwandu has not concealed his desire to displace Juwah.