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INVESTIGATION

How DMO DG, Oniha’s management style is killing Nigeria’s economy

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-As financial experts call for her sack

By Festus Onajite

Nigeria’s economy is heading for more tough times ahead going by current happenstances at the Debt Management Office, DMO, manned by Ms. Patience Oniha.

There have been red alerts pointing towards a major crisis in the Nigerian economy since Oniha took over about a year ago from Dr. Abraham Nwankwo as the director-general. And despite the several millions of naira allocated to the agency, DMO itself is presently a shadow of its old self due largely to the perceived incompetence of the current DG.

The major worry at the moment is that despite the rising debt profile of the nation, the federal government has been unable to develop a fresh debt management strategy, seven months after the expiration of the Debt Management Office’s (DMO) five-year Third Strategic Plan initiated by Oniha’s predecessor.

Investigations also revealed that DMO is bereft of its own internal working plan, which we learnt, is in the pipeline.

Nigeria’s total public debt increased by 4.52 per cent in the first three months of 2018, the DMO had revealed, adding that the country’s debt increased from N21.73 trillion in December 2017 to N22.71 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 2018.

Financial experts attribute the above trend to lack of administrative skills exhibited by Ms Patience Oniha in handling affairs at the DMO. It is further argued that if no drastic steps are taken by the federal government concerning the Debt Management Office, the Nigerian economy risks a further nosedive in a few months to come.

“She is an analogue administrator who cannot operate in the digital age of debt management,” a financial expert quipped recently. He called for the sack of the director-general to be replaced by a more competent and experienced hand to manage an agency as strategic as the DMO.

As it stands, the prospect of the debt portfolio has become higher as Nigeria has just signed an agreement with France for $475million loan facility for some projects in Lagos, Kano and Ogun States.

The Debt Management Agency is a very critical arm of the federal government as far as debt management is concerned. Section 6(c) of the DMO Establishment Act 2003 states that the agency must, “prepare and implement a plan for the efficient management of Nigerian’s external and domestic debt obligations at sustainable levels compatible with desired economic activities for growth and development; and participate in negotiations aimed at realising those objectives.”

Due to its very critical role in the economy, the Debt Management Office has always operated with a strategic plan since it was establishes on 4th October 2000 to centrally coordinate the management of Nigeria’s debt. Its last strategic plan that expired last December was the third since its establishment.

Though the director-general of DMO had said that Nigeria’s steadily rising debt profile was not a big issue, the International Monetary Fund has expressed deep concerns over Nigeria’s capacity to repay its rising debts. IMF officials recently warned the government that Nigeria has been sliding down towards debt trap.

At a press conference on the sidelines of the World Bank Group Spring Meetings in Washington DC, recently Mrs Catherine Pattillo, Assistant Director, Fiscal Affairs Department of IMF, described Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio, which she put at 63 percent, as “extremely high.”

According to her, “Borrowing by countries can create benefits if used for investments of high returns. Our evidence suggests that’s not the case in some countries, especially in Nigeria. So rising debt can create the vulnerabilities.”

Chirstine Lagarde, the head of International Monetary Fund corroborated this last month while addressing financial leaders from some developing countries. She said that global debt had soared to 220 per cent of global output, a staggering level that did not bode well for member economies.

In most economy, the debt problem was casting a shadow over future growth prospects, she said.

All efforts to reach Ms. Oniha for her angle proved futile as her mobile number 0802..…….79 was not reachable as at press time.

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INVESTIGATION

Ex-staffers battle Diamond Bank over unpaid severance fee

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We are not owing them  – Diamond Bank

 

Diamond Bank Plc. led by Uzoma Dozie is now at war with the 370 workers that were sacked by the bank with no severance entitlements.

This newspaper learnt that the management of Diamond Bank on 27th of May 2016 at about 5:30am sent an electronic mail to 370 of their member staff to notify them of termination of their appointment, without stating any objective reason. Most of the workers who didn’t receive the termination mail before leaving home to work were caught off guard as they couldn’t access their various work stations and were only able to find out about the termination of their appointment after renting their friend’s phone.

We gathered that the workers took their case to the National Assembly Committee on Public Petitions and the bank’s MD/CEO, Uzoma Dozie was summoned to appear before the committee on January 18th, 2018. Instead of showing up, he sent the Head Human Capital Management of the bank, Mr. Gabriel Nwokeafor to represent him.

Sources said that Mr. Gabriel Nwokeafor told the House Committee that the bank was ready to settle the matter and a meeting was held to that effect at Reiz Hotel, Abuja on January 19th, 2018 between Diamond Bank, its lawyer and seven representatives of the sacked workers alongside their lawyer and the bank agreed to pay the severance/redundancy benefits as computed but on the condition that the loans collected by the ex-workers will be deducted and the balance paid to them.

Be that as it may, we were told that the bank had reneged on that agreement. Besides, Mr. Gabriel on 28th March, 2018 refused to appear before the House Committee instead he sent two lawyers who refuted the agreements he made with the ex-workers and their lawyer on January 19th, 2018 on the ground that the case was still in Court and the sacked workers were asked to withdraw their case from the court.

The ex-workers not fully aware of the implication of their next action, subsequently withdrew the case from Court.

Sources added that Mr. Gabriel on April 24th, 2018 said that he cannot deny knowledge of the agreement he signed with the ex-workers and their lawyer, and the withdrawal of the case in court that there is no way the decision he reached with the sacked workers could be wholly binding as the CEO/MD of the bank was not present at the time. He added that he did not know that the entire decisions at the meeting was been recorded.

But in a statement made available to THE WITNESS on Thursday July 19, 2018, Diamond Bank however denied the allegations.

The statement reads in part “At Diamond Bank, we understand the value of strong governance principles that protect and places a premium on the welfare of our people.”

“The exit of the staff was in line with best practice and complied to all regulations.”

“Out of the 370 persons who left the employment of our bank, 274 of them voluntarily resigned their appointments and several of them have requested and have been issued with favourable references.”

“They were paid all their terminal benefits as stipulated under their contracts of employment.”

“Presently, we are not indebted to any of them. However, a number of them are indebted to the Bank over loan facilities they obtained and failed to repay.”

“We wish to state that this issue has been reported and deliberated upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as Federal Legislative bodies.” The lender stressed.

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INVESTIGATION

Fresh crisis hits Wema Bank

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Ademola Adebise, Managing Director, Wema Bank Plc.

 

One of the third tier financial institutions in Nigeria, Wema Bank Plc is in crisis. This newspaper gathered that the new Managing Director, Ademola Adebise has clampdown on ex-Managing Director, Olusegun Oloketuyi’s loyalist.

Insiders at the bank squealed to us that the new MD is plotting to remove some top bank employees loyal to the former MD and install his own loyalists in their place.

We were told that Ademola Adebise who came to power few weeks ago has already sacked five managers loyal to Olusegun Oloketuyi.

Our sources told us that the new MD is bent on flushing out all those who came from Skye Bank with the former MD.

Source: Top Celebrities

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INVESTIGATION

EFCC to probe Delta Gov. Okowa’s N736m substandard road project

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…..As Community Youths Protest Low Standard Job

 


 

Information reaching The Witness has revealed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), are set to take over the lingering case of the ongoing substandard road contract awarded to PORTPLUS limited, a marine service company, at the sum of N736, 404, 555.60 by the Delta State government.

It would be recalled that in March, 2017, Delta state governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, had awarded to Portplus Limited, the contract to construct a three kilometers concrete pavement road with both sides drainages at Ikpide-Irri, a riverine community, Isoko South local government area of Delta state.

The substandard collapsed culvert.

The contract which is said to be a ‘kola-nut’ from the governor to the chairman of Portplus Limited, Mr. Immanuel Omoefe, an indigene of the community is already generating controversy following the substandard work and usage of low quality materials by the contractor, resulting to protest by the locals.

Speaking with our reporter, an EFCC official who does not want his name mentioned confided that, “Please don’t quote me, but I can tell you that the commission has been following stories from online media concerning the contract. We saw in the whole contract elements of fraud especially in the area of execution. We are very must interested in the issue”

One of the culverts being constructed with 10mm rods as against the specified 16mm on the BOQ

According to pur EFCC source, “As we talk, we are talking with the lawyer to the concerned indigenes of the community who petitioned governor Ifeanyi Okowa on the substandard work and he is cooperating with us.

“Once we receive the petitions been expected, our Benin city office in Edo state will swing into action and all names that will be mentioned especially the contractor would be invited for questioning. A colleague of mine in the ICPC told me too they are interested and will also step into the matter.”, Our EFCC source disclosed.

The concerned indigenes of the community through a petition addressed to governor Okowa last week and signed by their counsel, Mr. Chuks. F. Ebu, had raised the alarm of substandard job by the contractor saying that instead of construction of both sides drainages, using of rods and other materials specified in the Bill Of Quantity, (BOQ), the contractor went for substandard materials.

The 10mm used to construct one of the culverts.

The petition which was made available to tbis medium, copied the Commissioner of Police, state commissioner for works, member representing constituency 1 in the state house of Assembly, Orezi Esievo, State Director, SSS, Chairman, Isoko South local government area, all branch chairmen of Ikpide-Irri unions, President General, Isoko Development Union, (IDU) and others.

According to the petition with the title “Re:Construction Of Ikpide-Irri Township Roads: Protest Against The Substandard Job And Call For Strict Adherence To The Bill Of Quantity.”, failure by the contractor to adhere strictly to the Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation, ( BEME), the BOQ and other contract papers, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies would be invited into the contract.

“That the culverts should be reconstructed because the converts construction was not met as rods used was 10mm at interval of 300mm instead of 16mm at interval of 150mm spacing specified in the drawings and the original Bill Of Quantity (BOQ) and concrete mixed was very poor. Also the size specified in the drawings was not professionally followed.”

Our correspondent reliably gathered that few days ago one of the controversial culverts carrying 10mm rods as against the specified 16mm collapsed during a visit by some persons from the Ministry of works.

Meanwhile, the community youths on Sunday staged a peaceful protest in the community and called on the contractor to as a matter of urgency and importance follow standards in the execution of the contract or be ready to face the music of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Speaking during the protest, the leader of the protest, an activist and indigene of the community who doubles as the President of Isoko Monitoring Group, (IMG), a Pan Isoko group known for championing of development in Isoko, Delta and beyond, Mr. Sebastine Agbefe, lamented the substandard work by Portplus limited and called on the contractor to immediately destroy and reconstruct all the culverts in the community that were done with 10mm instead of 16mm according to the BOQ.

“This is a fraud of the highest order, this is pure wickedness and we can no longer folds our arms and watch one man shortchange us because of his personal greed and selfishness. We are warning the contractor to destroy all the culverts done with 10mm and reconstruct same with 16mm according to the BOQ.

“The contractor should also make sure that both sides drainages are constructed on the road and must use standard materials specified on the BOQ. And again, Portplus must adhere strictly to the specifications on the BOQ and any attempt to compromise standards as far as this contract is concerned, Portplus will be made to face EFCC and ICPC.”, Mr. Agbefe stated.

The IMG president, however enjoined indigenes of the community, especially the youths not to take the laws into their hands even as he challenge all communities in Isoko nation to be involved in the monitoring of execution government projects in their various domains.

It was gathered that some of the youths and other indigenes who came out enmass were scared away from the protest by parents and relatives for fear of been victimized by power that be in the community that is already compromised by the contractor.

Our correspondent reliably learnt that video clips and photographs of the substandard work taken during the protest will be sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as requested.

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