Despite the weighty allegations of gross official misconduct leveled against the executive secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Ms. Saratu Umar, by ‘Concerned” staff of the Commission, she has blatantly refused to addressed the issues raised.
LEADERSHIP Friday had in a letter dated January 3, 2022, requested Ms Umar to responds to the allegations raised by some ‘Concerned’ NIPC staff. She brazenly refused to respond, even after receiving copies of the letter in her office, email and WhatsApp on Tuesday, January 3, 2023.
The ‘Concerned’ staff had called on the Department of State Services (DSS) to protect them from the NIPC’s executive secretary, Ms. Saratu Umar over allegation that she plans to use thugs to beat up, physically attack and inflict bodily harm on some members of staff of the Commission.
In a letter to the director-general of the DSS, the ‘Concerned’ staff said, Ms. Umar boastfully made the threat to harm them at least twice in the afternoon of Friday, 23rd December, 2022 to Mr James Akwada, a director in the Commission while harassing and insulting him in the presence of Mr Tanimu Shekogoza (the DSS officer assigned to NIPC) and Mr Fenegal Iyamba, a deputy director.
NIPC has been embroiled in crisis since the appointment of the current ES in July 2022. Several representations have been made to the supervising ministry on the highhanded leadership style of Ms. Umar who was previously sacked as the ES in 2014, by President Goodluck Jonathan on account of the same behaviour, among other things.
This threat of physical assault and threat to life is the climax of the executive secretary’s threats to sack staff, actual punitive postings and general harassment, insults and maltreatment of members of staff of the Commission. But this is one threat too many and has caused members of staff to fear for their lives!
“We therefore request the intervention and urgent intervention of the Department of State Services on the matter and to avert a complete breakdown of the almost inexistent law and order in NIPC,” the letter that was obtained by LEADERSHIP Friday read in part.
Meanwhile, the NIPC has admitted that it failed to consider Pioneer Status Incentive (PSI) application, since the present executive secretary/chief executive, Ms. Saratu Umar assumed office.
The pioneer status incentive (PSI) is a tax holiday that grants qualifying industries and products relief from payment of corporate income tax for an initial period of three years, extendable for one or two additional year. The intendment is to encourage the flourishing of businesses.
In a response to a petition against the executive secretary of NIPC by a group of Concerned stakeholders and some aggrieved staff of the Commission, chairman of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) NIPC chapter, Yusuf Mustapha said the process was stalled after some underhand practices were discovered by the head of theCommission. He failed to provide details of specific discoveries to back up his claim.
“The discovered racketeering, misapplying of the provision, undetailed and other underhand practices in the process of approval of the PSI by the cult-like actors in the process which obviously is inimical to the economy of the nation informed the ES/CEO to stall the process while rejiggling the process for better transparent and professional approach to the process,” Mustapha said in a petition to the minister of trade and investment, adding that “this is not palatable to the racketeers who are desperate to deliver to their ‘customers mostly consultants to the applicants.”
He said those calling for the head of Umar are those who were benefitting from a fraudulent system that was entrenched by the erstwhile ES/CEO, Yewande Sadiku.
Umar had come under heavy criticisms for indulging in acts that are inimical to the realisation of the commission’s mandates.
LEADERSHIP (Daily), a sister publication and flagship of the organisation had reported that under her tenure, NIPC has not renewed the 2022 annual subscriptions for the FDI markets intelligence which provides access to the world’s most comprehensive database of the global FDI flows.
NIPC uses the information to capture /track announced investment in various sectors of the economy. The information is used to track global investment information and provide informed guidance to investors. It is also used to produce Reports of Investment Announcements to show areas of investment interest in Nigeria.
Reacting to claims by Mr Mustapha, the ‘Concerned’staff of the Commission described him as an impostor whose tenure has expired and as such, does not have locus standi to parade himself as chairman of the union.
It would be recalled that the ‘Concerned’ staff of the Commission had in a petition, addressed to the minister of Trade and Investment alleged that “the tenure of Yusuf Mustapha, ASCSN chairman, NIPC chapter has expired, hence, he’s an impostor.”
The ‘Concerned’ staff said the claim for stalling the pioneer status incentive is a demonstration of the executive secretary’s insensitivity of its importance to Nigerian businesses and the economy.
The PSI is expected to reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria by providing corporate income tax relief to qualifying companies making investments in industries designated as “pioneer”. In effect, PSI seeks to enhance the survival, profitability and sustainability of beneficiary companies.
On assumption of office in July last year, the executive secretary met PSI applications that were ready for consideration by management which was submitted to her for necessary action. She failed to act on them till the time of filing this report.
This newspaper also obtained a voucher of the payment of N5 million each to two cronies of the executive secretary one of which is the defunct union chairman between 30th and 31st of December, 2022 under the guise of resource persons for a stakeholders’ engagement event that is yet to be held.
The stakeholders’ engagement series for which the sum of N10 million was paid for has not been held besides the fact that one of the supposed events does not need the hiring of resource persons.
LEADERSHIP Correspondent gathered that the executive secretary has also hired a consultant to check NIPC’s accounts without the approval of the council or supervising minister which goes against sections 15 and 16 of the NIPC Act.
According to the rules of the agency, staff cannot be paid more than N200,000 as advance for anything.
In a joint letter to the supervising minister of the commission, Niyi Adebayo, the Concerned staff said despite the achievement of the commission in administering the PSI, “it is unfortunate, painful anddisheartening that Yusuf Mustapha who is a member of the PSI technical committee and is well aware of the way we follow due process, decided to smear the character of staff of the division by alleging that the redeployment was based on ‘discovered racketeering, misapplying of the provision, undetailed and other underhand practices in the process of approval of the PSI by the cult-like actors in the process’.
“These allegations not only affect our integrity as individuals but that of the NIPC as well.”