On Tuesday May 19th, Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman sacked Usman Gur Mohammed as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
According to a Press Release from the Ministry, the decision was taken to improve sector performance.
Less than 24 hours after Mohammed’s dismissal, members of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) trooped out to the streets in Osogbo and Abuja to express their dissatisfaction with the decision of the Minister of Power. In their statements, they described Mohammed as a man who is genuinely concerned about their welfare, and is totally committed to making the power sector a better one. They also threatened to shut down the nation’s power sector if Mohammed is not reinstated.
In a powerful statement by the NUEE, it said the decision to sack Mohammed was borne out of a personal vendetta by the Minister. The statement said the sacked TCN boss has been a stumbling block lying in Mamman’s way in the power sector.
NUEE further called for the resignation of the Minister, and invited him on a debate to speak on the problems of the power sector and how to solve them. In its accusation, the group said Mamman doesn’t know enough to sack a man who has worked hard to ensure the sector improves, as it reeled out Mohammed’s achievements. The statement added that the NUEE will not accept its boss being treated the same way those of the NBET and REA were treated.
In what looks like a reaction to the electricity worker’s protests, and a disavowal of the Minister’s decision to sack Mohammed, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha released a circular stopping Ministers from sacking any MD/CEO of Parastatals, departments and agencies unilaterally.
“Government has observed with concern, the arbitrary removal of Chief Executive Officers of Government Parastatals, Agencies and Departments in accordance with Public Service Rules (PSR)
“When an act bordering on Serious Misconduct against a CEO 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 in line with the relevant provisions of the Establishment Act and the principles guiding chapter 3 and 16 of the public service rules,” the circular read.
The circular further stated that a Minister is to submit his recommendations and explanation of the CEO to the office of the SGF for processing to the President, for a decision.
It said that on receipt of the recommendations from the Minister, the SGF will set up an independent investigation panel and will advise the President on the next necessary action, including “interdiction or suspension” in accordance with the principles guiding sections 0300405 and 030406 of the Public Service Rules.
The circular showed new guidelines/procedures to be followed before any agency’s CEO is dismissed by a Minister. The SGF wrote that on no account should a CEO be stopped without an approval by the President.
The circular which was sent on the same day as the letter of dismissal of the former TCN boss showed the Presidency’s obvious disaffection with the decision of the Minister of Power, yet Mamman said it was approved by the President.
With a lack of support from major stakeholders in the sector – the employees working in it and the President, the dismissal of Mohammed has to be rescinded to conform with the desires of electricity workers whose inputs and efforts are very essential to the development of the sector.
Recall that Mamman had sacked the head of the Rural Electrification Agency, Damilola Ogunbiyi despite her stellar performance and achievements. Ogunbiyi’s appointment had been premised on her successful negotiation, within 18 months of the Nigerian Electrification Project which is a $550m facility to rapidly construct solar mini grids and deploy solar home systems across Nigeria.
Ogunbiyi was also at the Centre of the Energising Education Programme, which will see to the provision of uninterrupted electricity to 37 federal universities and 7 teaching hospitals through off-grid power. Despite all these glowing achievements within a short period, Mamman still fired Ogunbiyi for no known reason. Before her dismissal, the Power Minister had rejected Ogunbiyi’s resignation.
She had submitted a resignation letter after she got a role with the United Nations, only for the Minister to reject it and announce her suspension days after. The Presidency, unhappy with his decision reversed the suspension and acknowledged Ogunbiyi’s resignation letter.
In a similar fashion, the Presidency reversed the sacking of Marilyn Amobi, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Limited, days after Mamman announced her dismissal.
These are signs that the Minister doesn’t carry the Presidency along in his decisions despite claiming he took them with the approval of the President. He has been rebuffed on three occasions by the Presidency and it greatly indicates a lack of administrative competence.
Reinstating sacked TCN MD, Mohammed will be a justifiable move and a fair one to a man whose crime was supporting the staff that worked under him, and helping to reposition the nation’s power sector.