…Blew Open Akpabio, Interim Mgt Initial Plot to Recruit 300 Staff
In response to The New Diplomat’s investigation into the illegal recruitment of 300 staff by the outgoing management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who joined in masterminding the recruitment exercise, has ordered an immediate suspension of recruitment into the employment of the NDDC.
The New Diplomat, in the investigation had revealed details of how Akpabio connived with the members of the interim management board of the NDDC to discreetly employ 300 staff illegally without recourse to the NDDC Act and at a time when the newly appointed members of the management team will soon be sworn in.
According to top management sources within the NDDC who spoke with The New Diplomat in confidence, the members of the recruiting team that was hurriedly set up by the NDDC interim management were said to have allegedly operated from a hotel located at 20 Amaechi Drive, GRA. The hotel which is called Royal Vantage is allegedly owned by Mr Mene Derek, a former Executive Director of Finance and Administration at NDDC.
Speaking with our reporter, a top NDDC Director said: ‘’As I speak to you, they are working from this hotel, issuing recruitment letters illegally by Human Resources Department. They are employing over 300 staff into the NDDC without recourse to due process which include Advertisement of vacancies, open positions, created by promotion and movement of staff (e.g .transfers, retirements, resignations and deaths, physical incapacitation, etc.), approval by a subsisting board in line with the NDDC Act in ratio of production quota. This action is a violation of these provisions. This exercise is being carried out in the face of inconclusive staff promotion exercises for 2016, 2017 and 2018 in the Commission.”
Five days after the publication of The New Diplomat’s story, Akpabio, who was recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to oversee the Niger Delta ministry quickly aborted the illegal recruitment plans following backlash from the Niger Delta leaders and chieftains of All Progressives Congress, as well as the many controversies he was about attract to himself from the presidency.
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However, while trying to play it safe and avoid incurring the wrath of the presidency, Akpabio on Friday in Abuja quickly issued a statement through his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr Anietie Ekong, suspending the illegal recruitment exercise in an attempt seen by many as a way of saving himself and his job from the blushes of the ill-fated move.
In the statement, the Minister backtracked on his earlier mission to say that the decision to suspend the exercise was necessary to guarantee due process as such recruitment exercise by the Commission ought to be evaluated by the Ministry in consultation with the committees of the National Assembly on the NDDC.
“The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has directed that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), suspends forthwith any employment exercise into the Commission.
“The Minister also directed the suspension of handing over of appointment letters, documentation and all other processes connected to employment into the Commission.
“Senator Akpabio gave this directive in a letter issued by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Mrs Didi Walson-Jack to the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Dr Akwagaga Enyia.
“According to the Ministerial directive, the Commission’s pay roll should not accommodate any new employees and should revert to the status quo as at August 31, 2019, while he should be furnished within three days with a detailed report of any employment exercise being undertaken by the Commission.
“The letter said the suspension exercise is to subsist until a due process evaluation of the purported exercise is carried out by the Ministry in consultation with the two NDDC Committees of the National Assembly and sought prompt action of the Acting Managing Director on the matter”, the statement said.