POWER Minister Saleh Mamman has been overruled on the suspension of Ms. Damilola Ogunbiyi as the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday ordered her reinstatement.
Her recall was announced in a tweet by the Federal Government via the Twitter handle, @NGRPresident, today.
“President @MBuhari has directed that the suspension of Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi from her role as Managing Director of @realREANigeria, be reversed. Her resignation, effective from 31 December, 2019, has been accepted to enable her assume her new @UN appointment,” said the tweet.
The minister placed Ms. Ogunbiyi on indefinite suspension last month and ordered an investigation into alleged infractions by the agency under her watch.
It was reported that Buhari approved the appointment of Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad to take over from Mrs. Ogunbiyi as REA Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The minister’s Special Adviser, Media and Communication, Aaron Artimas, confirmed Ahmad’s appointment made this known in a statement in Abuja on December 31.
After her suspension, Ogunbiyi, REA’s first female CEO, tendered her resignation and took up a job as the United Nation (UN) Special Representative for Sustainable Energy and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll).
Although the president reversed her suspension, he accepted her resignation.
It was learnt on Tuesday that a letter to Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), conveyed the Presidential directive to the international organisation.
“Following the recent developments in the Nigerian power sector, I write to inform you that His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari has reviewed the situation and directed that the suspension of Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, managing director (Rural Electrification Agency) be reversed for lack of due process,” the memo reads.
Mrs. Ogunbiyi is said to be responsible for negotiating within 18 months the Nigerian electrification project, which is a $550 million facility (World Bank $350 million and African Development Bank (AfDB) $200 milion) to rapidly construct solar mini-grids and deploy solar home systems across Nigeria.
She is also said to be responsible for the Energising Education Programme which will provide uninterrupted electricity to 37 federal varsities and seven teaching hospitals through off-grid captive power.
She had earlier been accused of committing some infractions but industry sources said that was not the case.
“This is not how you thank someone that has put her country first and successfully transformed a government agency into a dynamic institution delivering World Bank and AFDB standard intervention projects,” a source said.
The source went on: “From all I know, Mrs. Ogunbiyi’s outstanding performance is there for all to see. So much so that the UN has hired her to deliver the same impact on a global scale.”
It was also gathered that Mrs Ogunbiyi had tendered her resignation on October 7, 2019, giving the perfunctory three months’ notice in preparation to handover to her successor and transition REA to its new leadership.
Her resignation letter was addressed to the President through the Office of SGF and the Minister of Power, Minister of State for Power, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Power, and the Chairman of the REA board were copied.
Another industry insider shared: “You can’t suspend someone that has already resigned months earlier.”
Similarly, some persons close to the controversy said: “It is quite discouraging that we don’t seem to value our own people, however, it is a positive development that the President reversed her suspension. It sends an encouraging and clear message to otherNigerians also serving their country diligently.
“I am thrilled when I heard. The President has demonstrated the utmost leadership and character. Ogunbiyi can now go on to her new role with her reputation and integrity intact. I am sure she will continue to do great things for Nigerians and Africa.”