Amid calls to have the Executive Secretary, Yewande Sadiku, removed, workers at the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) are protesting against poor welfare conditions and administration which they say have caused the commission to be “broken, demoralised, and polarised” more than ever before.
During a demonstration at the NIPC headquarters in Abuja on Thursday, Yusuf Mustapha, chapter chairman of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), said the Executive Secretary disregarded previous attempts to address their grievances.
“Every civil attempt on our part has been met with a lack of decorum, dishonesty, and total disregard on the part of the executive secretary and her team. It is on record avenues of civil negotiations and reconciliations have been exhausted by the union executives,” he said.
In a 10-page letter addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, dated July 6 and obtained by HumAngle, the ASCSN chapter highlighted “an avalanche of ethical issues” they have against Sadiku.
The allegations include disloyalty to the president and negative publicity, deviation from the core mandate of the commission, wastage of scarce resources, favouritism, nonchalance concerning staff welfare, poor implementation of budgetary provisions, breach of COVID-19 safety measures, and so on.
“Despite Presidential and National Assembly directives in September 2019 that all Chief Executives of MDAs should suspend travels until after Budget Defense at the National Assembly, the ES [Exective Secretary] travelled out of the country and due to this defiance to this directive the NIPC did not defend its Budget,” stated the letter, which was signed by Mustapha and the chapter secretary, Emeka Nwachukwu.
The workers lamented that the NIPC is no longer at the forefront of organising events and fostering partnerships to encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) but is “watching from the sidelines”.
They observed that as a result of the agency’s deviation from the Federal Government’s strategy of Investment Promotion, it was oddly not invited to be represented during President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent state visits to United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and China.
“It is on record that the only investment event organized by the NIPC was the Direct Investor Summit Nigeria (DISN) which took place only once in 2018,” the letter said.
“This is a Commission that used to organise major in-bound and out-bound missions including well-patronised side events during all state visits of Mr President. We also used to convoke key stakeholders into a national council of investment where investment policies are analysed, reviewed and recommended to government and the buy-in of stakeholders at national and sub-national acquired.”
The staff alleged that Sadiku spent over N400 million on over 70 trips within three years “purportedly for official purposes when in truth the ES merely expends public funds without a single positive investment response to support the global engagement”.
“It is on record that the ES and two other officers have undertaken more foreign trips than the entire staff of the Commission combined, chasing activities that have no direct bearing on generating Foreign Direct Investment,” they added.
“A major component of these trivial foreign trips is the Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT). This is supposed to be a multi-stakeholder process where NIPC is not the primary process owner. But the ES and her cohorts have been all over the world negotiating BITs without the supervisory Ministries, Foreign Affairs and the Justice.”
The executive secretary was accused of establishing a service-centred structure that is wasteful and favours the career progression of certain officers to the detriment of others and also exhibiting bias in posting workers. She was also said to be showing “double standards and deliberate tardiness” regarding staff welfare and violating COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“The commission has not put in place any measure safety provision in place to protect the staff from the covid19 pandemic beyond hand washing basins at the entrance,” the staff observed.
“No provision is made for sanitizers, safety mask and most of the staff conveniences do not have functional flowing water on account of very minor repairs in the geepee tank.”
The executive secretary, they said, has demonstrated a poor understanding of public sector management which has resulted in poor implementation of budgetary provisions
“For instance,” they said, “since 2017, budgetary provisions were made for the renovation of zonal offices some of which are in a state of disrepair unfit for human habitation.
“To date, this has not been achieved posing significant health hazards to the officers in those outstations as well as portraying the commission as an unserious organisation to high net worth stakeholders, corporate citizens and top government officials that are supposed to be the clients of the organisation.”
HumAngle made several attempts to speak to Sadiku on Thursday about the allegations by members of her staff but calls placed to her were not answered. She is yet to also respond to a text message sent to her phone number.