by Sulaiman Ibrahim
The genie is back in the story. A former executive commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for 7 Years with an exaggerated sense of achievements is reportedly among those jostling for a top job in the Communication Technology Ministry.
The commissioner once seen as a major light of the industry at recruitment vauntily overreached himself and made life very unbearable even for his own bosses and became tormentor-in-chief for the industry with false claims and delusionary activities. The high point of his malfeasance at the NCC was his dismissal by the Federal Government, a case which he challenged in court with some reliefs but the judgment is very instructive.
With an APC victory being celebrated across the country and with so much hope built up for the coming administration, an industry practitioner is alarmed that the sacked ex-commissioner who is sulking up to the hierarchy of the APC should not be entrusted with such a sensitive industry or be made to play any role around it.
Giving his own explanation, the source said that the story of the commissioner that was always awash in the media some years ago should give everybody a sense of concern. The commissioner in question was always fingered in controversial issues linked to the promotion of self. Explaining further, the source said that in 2008, the commissioner, sensing that he would benefit from a vacuum in office nearly succeeded in removing former EVC, Engr Ernest Ndukwe from office on the grounds of age until an intervention by the then Secretary to Government, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed who faulted that assumption to Government. Thereafter, Engr Ndukwe and the Board led by veteran civil servant Ahmed Joda would never know peace.
Years later Engr Stephen Bello who succeeded Engr Ndukwe was not that lucky. He was unceremoniously removed by the orchestration of Dr Bashir Gwandu and stepped into his shoes until government made a substantive decision. That decision by the Nigerian Government never went down well with him as he felt his entitlement mentality questioned and overruled.
However what really troubled the industry source is the ex-commissioner’s capacity for trouble to constituted authority and his ability to carry on as if life was normal. The story recalled of how the commissioner’s insubordination even at international meetings was so appalling that at one point, former ITU Secretary General, Dr Hamadoun Toure had to call Nigeria to ask the country to call the commissioner to order as his actions were causing international embarrassment.
The source who is very troubled that the Nigerian telecoms industry hailed globally as doing very well can easily be unhinged and fall apart, recalled that the commissioner’s insubordination would eventually end his sojourn in government.
“I am to inform you that based on the recommendations of the Disciplinary Committee; Mr. President has approved your removal from office, for gross misconduct, with effect from 9th November, 2012.”
All hell would break lose after this. The commissioner flooded the media with spurious claims of fraudulent sale of spectrum. In Nigeria the word fraud is a marketable payoff line. And it attracts the lynch mob like blood to a crocodile. But what was peppered over was the commissioner’s action at the Presidency that didn’t go down well with the bosses.
An invitation only meeting was called by the Presidency. The commissioner was not invited to this meeting presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo. Interestingly this commissioner was the first to be seated before those actually invited for the meeting with the false claim that he was sent a text. He was never able to show the text and the protocol list displayed by the Deputy Chief of Staff did not have his name.
The source recalled media stories that when told to leave the meeting, he blatantly refused and embarked on vitriolic comments to undermine the positions of his immediate work place, NCC, the Ministry of Communication Technology and the Police Affairs counterpart. All the while his bosses including the Minister were present.
The commissioner’s conduct in that high level meeting embarrassed the Vice President, Ministers of Communication Technology and Police Affairs, and Permanent Secretaries of Police Affairs and Communication Technology.
Once again the commissioner’s legendary history of insubordination came to the fore. The query sent to this commissioner was never answered properly because of absolute disrespect for any constituted authority. This culminated in an unfortunate situation that could compel a genial President Jonathan to sack the commissioner from office.
The source hailed brilliant Femi Falana for securing good judgment with reliefs for the commissioner but recalled also that the court may have noticed the submissions of the lawyers which include: that the claimant cannot be asking for reinstatement having shown that he cannot work under any management not led by him……..that there exists a real atmosphere of festering acrimony against the other, that the claimants and the others were not getting along is there to be seen, before declaring that reinstatement is refused.
Dr Bashir Gwandu, has since been replaced by Engr Ubale Maska a retired director from Nigerian Communications Commission who hails from the same geo-political zone ( North West ) as Dr Gwandu by law.
Having gone down memory lane which the industry source said is a patriotic responsibility, it however alerted the APC hierarchy headed by President-elect Muhammadu Buhari to be very circumspect of people that the party appoints into high offices in order not to dampen the expectations of Nigerians.
– Sulaiman Ibrahim is an ICT analyst. He writes from Jalingo, Taraba State
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija