When President Muhammadu Buhari got into office as President for the first time in 2015, he promised to give Nigerians the best and work with the best set of people that would join him to move Nigeria forward.
This, he did with the appointment of people with the ability and capability to make changes and one of the stars of his government then was a former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who was given three portfolios of Power, Works and Housing.
However, after emerging victorious in the 2019 General Elections, President Muhammadu Buhari felt he needed to make some changes and rejuvenate his government for better performances.
Indeed, it was believed that the tenure of Mr. Fashola led to some progress in the power sector, but it appeared Buhari decided to relieve him of some workload and limit him to the Ministry of Works and Housing.
With this, a new person was appointed as the Minister of Power in person of Engineer Sale Mamman.
Many Nigerians had expected that being an engineer, Sale Mamman would move the ministry further and bring a relief to Nigerians, who had clamoured for increase in power supply so that the country could catch up with the rest of the world in the area of electricity generation.
But events have since revealed that Sale Mamman might not be the “messiah” the country needed to move the power sector forward with what he had been doing since he got into office few months back.
Sources revealed that if urgent and critical measures were not taken by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari the power sector might be in for the worse under Mamman.
He has since been seen as the weakest link in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari with several policy summersaults which only shows that his thought process for the ministry lacks depth and intelligence.
Sources stated that Sale Mamman is expected to be a technocrat in the government of Buhari and give informed pieces of advice “rather than being a clog in the wheel of progress of the government.”
Engr. Mamman’s profile is not even intimidating. Mamman was born on January 2, 1958 and holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Electrical Electronics from Kaduna Polytechnic in Kaduna State in 1988 and an MBA from Bayero University, Kano in 2015.
He started work as a teacher in Technical School Mubi, Adamawa State in 1981 and transferred his service to the newly created Taraba state in 1992.
He rose to the rank of Assistant Director in the ministry of works in the state before retiring in 2002.
He later became a full time businessman and politician.
Events in the Power Ministry indicated that Sale Mamman personalized critical decisions within the Power Ministry and its Agencies, “even to the detriment of the collective good of Nigerians, whose bidding he swore to do.”
It will be recalled that Sale Mamman indefinitely suspended the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Damilola Ogunbiyi recently, but this was reversed by President Muhammadu Buhari, and this further lent credence to “his high level high handedness.”
Damilola Ogunbiyi, from her time as Senior Special Adviser on Public Private Partnership (PPP) to the Lagos State Governor and then as General Manager of Lagos State Electricity Board to being appointed to oversee the REA, had displayed competence in her chosen career path in the energy sector, which gave rise to her appointment as Chief Executive of the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All.
Ogunbiyi’s “suspension”, which came months after she tendered her resignation to enable her proceed to her new role at the United Nations, was greeted with widespread condemnation even within the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) as staffs berated the Minister for “hating women”.
Nigeria’s loss then became the gain of the UN.
On the same day, in what was called “reorganization/sanitation in the Federal Ministry of Power”, Sale Mamman, through his spokesperson, Aaron Artimas, in a release had asked the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET), Marilyn Amobi to “step down and hand over to the most senior Director of the Organisation”.
But President Muhammadu Buhari later reversed the dismissal of Marilyn Amobi as the MD of (NBET).
The directive was contained in a memo issued by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
The agency was also moved from the Ministry of Power to the Ministry of Finance.
In December 2019, Sale Mamman asked Amobi to step down with immediate effect in order to “restore sanity” in the management of the agency.
The minister also directed the constitution of a 5-man investigative committee to look into the allegations against the MD.
Nnaemeka Ewelukwa, a general manager of the agency, immediately assumed office as the acting managing director of NBET.
Ewelukwa has been asked to step aside for Amobi to resume her former position.
It would be recalled that few weeks ago, the National Union of Electricity Employees embarked on strike to protest what was alleged as failure of the Minister of Power to implement their demands on the privatization of the Power Sector.
In a memo dated November 7 2019, and sent to the Minister, NUEE had threatened to declare a nationwide strike if its demands were not met. It was in fact, stated in the memo that previous letters to the Minister since his assumption of duty as Power Minister had gone unacknowledged.
How would a Minister of Power show apathy for its workers and their plights?
“But for the swift intervention of some senior staff in the Ministry, who had first met with the Electricity Workers’ Union weeks before they embarked on the industrial action that plunged the country into darkness for nearly 24 hours, the situation would have further gone unattended and the nation plunged into perpetual darkness. Nigeria has never had it that perilous,” said a source.
It will be recalled that the tension that Mamman’s decisions of easing out the MDs of REA and NBET was yet to abate, when he appointed two of his kinsmen as Directors into the REA.
Sale Mamman had given specific directives that the Directors be in charge of Procurement and Funds within the REA.
The Directors are Dr. Lawal Ibrahim (Funds) and Mr. Bulus Maiyaki (Procurement). While Maiyaki was internally redeployed, Ibrahim was purportedly shipped in from outside.
In a memo dated December 27, 2019, Sale unilaterally made the postings.
The manner of the appointments called for concern.
The Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) had asked Mr Saleh Mamman, to withdraw the appointment he made in the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).
HURIWA National Coordinator,Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko in a statement he made in Abuja disclosed that the group had written the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to clarify the status of one of the new appointees in the Procurement Unit.
Onwubiko alleged that the appointments made in REA were lopsided.
The statement reads in part: “HURIWA does not want or intend to dabble into the internal politics that motivated the Honourable minister of Power into making those appointments.
“But we are basically writing to protest the lopsidedness observable in this action and the breach of the ethical codes as clearly stated out by the appointing authority through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as emphasized by a memorandum of modus operandi authored by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.”
A source wondered why Mamman had been embarrassing the government of President Buhari “as if he is the only minister in the cabinet.”
It is believed that Sale Mamman is incapable of taking the country out of the woods in the power sector and that rather than settling down to proffer solutions to the numerous problems facing the sector, “he is busy chasing shadows and dealing with perceived enemies.”