Despite efforts by persons in government to deny the employment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Hadiza, into Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, fresh facts have emerged on how the secret recruitment took place.
Earlier in February, some contract staff of the PPPRA raised the alarm that Hadiza had been employed into the agency as deputy manager along with children of other top and highly influential persons in the country.
After the news hit the airwaves, the Presidency swung into action, denying that the claim was “untrue, malicious, and meant to cast aspersions on the first family”.
However, SaharaReporters has now gathered that Hadiza’s employment was facilitated by the new Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Abdulkadir Umar Saidu.
To clear the way for the employment of Hadiza and others, Saidu had to sack at least 34 contract staff, who had worked with the agency for over seven years.
Before the appointment of Saidu as Executive Secretary of PPPRA, the former occupant of that office, Mrs Sotonye Iyoyo, had secured an approval to regularise the employment of 134 contract staff and also employ more qualified Nigerians into the agency.
However, as is the norm in most federal ministries and agencies in Nigeria, management and board of PPPRA decided to share the slots amongst themselves and cronies rather than throwing it open to the general public.
The employment slots were allocated to powerful individuals in the executive, legislature, and judiciary arms of government in the country.
Further investigations revealed that the reason why no management staff was willing to challenge the present Executive Secretary on most of his obnoxious policies and high-handedness was because of an issue of money laundering and covert fraud of N2bn withdrawn from the agency's coffers by the General Manager Admin/HM – V.Z Shidok, who acted as ES at a time.
Insiders revealed to SaharaReporters that Shidok withdrew the said sum and shared it among his fellow general managers, Mr Teddy Okonkwo (GM Corporate Planning), Soji Soloye (GM Operations), Mr Olasupo Agbaje (GM Gas and Energy Renewal), Mr J.T Peter (GM Finance), Mr Kimchi Apollo (AGM Corporate Services), Mr John A. Egundebi (AGM Audit), and Mr Jar’ far Abubakar (Head Legal/Board Secretary).
The windfall also got to members of the board led by Alhaji Muhammad Lawan Buba, who all went on an all-expense paid trip to Singapore on the agency's bill.
According to findings, some members of the National Assembly also benefited from the largesse as Saidu spent a lot of money to have them confirm him as substantive Executive Secretary of PPPRA.
It was also revealed that Saidu, a native of Daura in Katsina State, runs the agency like his personal enterprise.
He regularly boasts to staff and management executives that he was President Buhari’s nephew and therefore can run the agency as he wants.
A staff, who spoke with SaharaReporters, disclosed that the sacked workers were treated badly despite serving the organisation diligently.
“The affected staff constantly appealed to the management of the agency to regularise their employment for eight years but they were always told to be patient.
“They were subjected to working to ensure that the agency met its mandate, while generating revenue for the agency and of course the country in general.
“In spite of this, they were verbally booted out on September 25, 2017 with deceitful assurances that they will soon be contacted to resume back to work,” the staff revealed.
Speaking further, the staff said, “Mrs Iyoyo’s son and son-in-law were both employed to ensure that she does not speak about the corrupt acts going on at PPPRA.
“Mua’zu’s three brothers were employed, two senior staff and a junior staff.
“A director with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs Rose Ekawu’s daughter was favoured as it was hinted that the director always kept the agency abreast of happenings in the commission and helped out with financial fraud issues concerning the agency.”
Also, the leadership of PENGASSAN, both national and branch executives, were also favoured with slots, and that is why they have been turning a blind eye to the injustice meted out on the sacked employees.
As a result of the development, staff of PPPRA have called on government to investigate all past and present heads of the agency and especially look into their academic qualifications.
“Some of the managers and top staff at PPPRA are working with forged results.
“We want anti-graft commissions in the country to launch an investigation into happenings at this agency to unravel the extent of corruption going on here,” one staff said.