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NASS management crisis: Group exonerates Director of ‘compromised’ promotion

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Following the controversy trailing the promotion of some senior staff of the National Assembly for quite some time, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has described the allegation against the Secretary, Procurement, Estate and Works as unfounded.

The NGO, Centre for Policy and Rights Watch International said the Secretary of Procurement, Estate and Works of the National Assembly, Mr. Olatunde Ojo, did not get undue promotions against public service rules (PSR).

An online media platform has alledged that Mr. Olatinde Ojo got “rapid promotion as compensation for loyalty to corrupt political office holders in the National Assembly.’

In a statement by the Centre for Policy and Rights Watch International, which was signed by its Executive Director, Osaretin Clement and Secretary, Olusanya Paul Aderenle in Abuja, and made. available to journalists, it said the allegation was frivolous and malicious.

The Group dosclosed that it carries outbits independent investigation and discovered that the report was part of the power tussle in the National Assembly management’s hierarchy.

It urged the National Assembly to extricate the staff from politics and bigotry.

It said: “To our surprise, we discovered that it was not only deliberately and clandestinely sponsored, but a frivolous and malicious attempt to malign, discredit, ridicule and portray in bad light, the person of Mr. O. A. Ojo, and also as part of the present cold bureaucratic power tussle in the National Assembly management’s hierarchy.

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“Our findings revealed that contrary to the report, Mr. O. A. Ojo earned his promotion into the directorate cadre before the politically orchestrated allegation of ‘evasion of payment of appropriate custom duties’ on the imported official Range Rover for the use of the former Senate President.

“The alleged compensation with promotion for an illicit act was concocted and baseless, as Mr Ojo was a victim of the political disharmony and rancour between the 8th National Assembly and the Executive.

“A more critical look at the dates involved in the report revealed the fact that his elevation into the Directorate cadre predates the 2015 tenure of the 8th National Assembly leadership, when he was alleged to have been compensated with promotion for ‘extraordinary loyalty to corrupt political office holders.’

“The award of contract for the supply of the controversial Range Rover whose Import Duty documents was allegedly forged by Mr. Ojo passed through the Tenders Board’s due process as required by the Procurement Act in 2015.

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“Mr. A. O. Adelami, the retired Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly was the Secretary, Directorate of Procurement, Estate and Works at the time of this award in 2016. Mr Ojo was not a member of the Tenders’ Board.

“Normally, an authentic contract consists of three stages namely, Award, Execution and Payment.

“The contractor is saddled with the execution aspect which includes payment of the Customs Duty which has been originally built into the contract quote by the contractor, hence it was not the responsibility of the National Assembly or any of its agents, nor Mr Ojo, as Head of the Procurement Department to pay any Import Duty much more forging documents to evade duty fees.

“He was only contacted by the Nigeria Customs in his official capacity as the Secretary Procurement, Estate and Works to verify and authenticate if the National Assembly actually awarded the contract upon arrival of the imported Range Rover by the contractor.

“A diligent and cursory look into the career progression of Mr O. A. Ojo, also shows that he met the required mandatory four years before attaining promotion from the position of Assistant Director to Deputy Director in the Estate and Works Department of the National Assembly, between 1st January 2008 to January 2012.

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“He was elevated by the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) into an acting Director capacity on 24/9/2013 as a result of a vacuum created upon the retirement of his predecessor, Mr. Ojeh A. Dickson, for his competence and pedigree as the most senior person in the highly professionalised directorate, as an experienced and versatile Architect.

“He was appointed a Director in 2013 but got his confirmation in 2014 due to an existing vacancy which is one of the criteria for promotion in service.

“Considering the rule that any elevation after directorate cadre is political, he got his present elevation as acting Secretary, Procurement, Estate and Works in December 2016 and got confirmed in 2017.

“As far as we are concerned, the crude politics of ‘pull him down’ syndrome being desperately sponsored by some unscrupulous characters and enemies of professional advancement should never be allowed a space to flourish within the National Assembly staff, and we will not permit Mr. Ojo to be given a bad name, in order to crucify him unjustly.”

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