*Aides Accuse Minister Of Greed, Wickedness
THE decision of the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, to disengage two of his aides, the Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Victor Oluwadamilare, and Special Assistant (Special Duties), Sheik Imam Tajudeen, is not unconnected with the requests for the payment of their accumulated emoluments, totaling N14million, a close source to the ministry has said.
The minister in a release signed by the Deputy Director (Press), Henshaw Ogbuike, and made available to newsmen in Abuja disengaged the two special assistants on Thursday.
The release reads: “Anybody dealing with them on behalf of the Honourable Minister and the Ministry of Communications is doing so at his or her own risk.
“They have been directed to handover all Ministry’s properties in their possession.”
Meanwhile, Victor Oluwadamilare had in a letter dated March 12, 2018 on behalf of the duo requested for the payment of their accumulated emoluments totaling N14million, due at the end of March, 2018, from the Minister.
The letter read in part: “I am writing on behalf of myself and my colleague, Sheik Tajudeen Imam, Special Assistant (Special Duties), renowned Muslim Cleric and leader, whom you appointed to assist you 25 months ago.
“I am constrained, once again, to formally request for the payment of my accumulated emoluments totaling FOURTEEN MILLION NAIRA (N14million), due at the end of March, 2018, from you.
“You will recall that your letter referenced HMC/026/Vol. 11/17, dated 23rd November, 2015 and titled: APPOINTMENT AS SPECIAL ASSISTANT (MEDIA) TO THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS, stated among others in paragraph 3 that: “Your monthly emolument will be decided in line with the existing practice”. (Annexure 1)
“Sir, for many months, running into years despite many verbal reminders, nothing has been done on this matter–you gave many promises which never materialised. I was forced to mention the issue of non-payment of my emoluments to a number of your friends and close associates, who promised to talk to you on the imperative of paying the emoluments of your aides. Indeed, I got several feedbacks on your promise to address the issue, but, after many months nothing happened!”
Oluwadamilare explained in the letter that “According to a subsisting Federal Government circular from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation with Ref. NO.SGF.12/5.6/1.1/23 (Annexure 4) titled: RE: APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL ASSISTANTS AND PERSONAL ASSISTANTS, addressed to All Honourable Ministers, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and all Federal Permanent Secretaries, it stated that the Special Assistant to the Ministers should be on Grade Level 16 Step 4. Other Associated Allowances were also clearly stated.
“In summary, the total emoluments due to me as a duly appointed Special Assistant amounted to N252,300. 41 per month. This is inclusive of two Domestic Servants, who are expected to be on Level 3 step 8, according to a Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure (CONPSS), prepared by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (Annexure 5).
“Sir, be informed that your inability or inhuman refusal to arrange for prompt payment of my emoluments for over two years, no doubt, has not only made life very uncomfortable for me and my household, but had equally made me a laughing stock among my contemporaries and media practitioners.
“Even though, principal officers of the Ministry, at the inception of your tenure made spirited efforts to convince you on the “existing practice” of settling SAs emoluments, you apparently refused bluntly.”
The former Chairman of the Oyo State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) added in the letter while the Minister deliberately made him to suffer working for him under the most excruciating condition of deprivation, the Minister has been living in indescribable opulence.
“Your obvious insensitivity and lack of compassion for me and my other colleagues have done incalculable damages to our persons and families.
“The irony of the above situation is that while you effectuated stagnation in my life and development (and that of others) by your deliberate ploy and insensitivity, you were doing well for yourself and your family. It is evident to all that your life has witnessed unprecedented turn-around, albeit illicitly, considering the thrust and mission of the Buhari Administration on corruption in public offices.
“Thus, in a space of 29 months in office and from ground zero in 2015, you now have no fewer than 12 luxury houses in Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan and a few months ago, you bought a brand new N93 million Printing Press. You have bought over 25 luxury vehicles for yourself, family members, concubines and cronies, outside the eight official vehicles attached to your office.
“In the same vein, you have expended substantial amount of money, far above your legitimate earnings as a Minister in the Buhari Administration, on your gubernatorial ambition in Oyo State, while you have equally sponsored no fewer than 22 members of your family and cronies including under-aged children to the Holy Land in Saudi Arabia and lesser Hajj (Umrah) pilgrimage. Of course, everyone in Oyo State knows about your investments that run into hundreds of millions of naira, in your less than three years in the office–these are currently scattered all over Oyo State!
“While it is your right to do whatever you like with such stupendous resources at your disposal in less than 30 months as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, my concern is that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. My belief, in this regard, is that a sincere leader should grow up with his followers legitimately. Ironically however, you are shockingly unperturbed by whatever happens to your aides, making the welfare of those who work with you a nullity.
“The hope of working with you to properly project you and Oyo State at the Federal Executive Council that came with nostalgic feelings has been dashed. You did not only mess us up by dashing our hopes and aspirations, you inflicted on us injuries that are of permanent nature and of odious dimension. You bruised our psyche, you rubbished our ego, you wasted our time, you exposed us to hardship, you almost destroyed our humanity, you reduced our worth before our wives, children and acquaintances and above all, if not for God, you almost turned us to beggars in Abuja.
“While we were suffering under your gross insensitivity and primitive meanness, your sing-song and alibi to the unsuspecting public, both in Abuja and Oyo State, has been that we collect estacode even if you are not paying salary. Your insidious wickedness was so brazen, and, it is a provocative travesty that would make the globally condemned experience of blacks in Apartheid South Africa a child’s play.”
Giving a fact sheet about the Barrister Adebayo Shittu’s allowances since he assumed office as Minister of Communications, Oluwadamilare said: “Hon. Minister, since your inauguration you have collected over N50 MILLION as salary, travelling expenses on the coffers of the Ministry runs into several millions of naira, while you have collected estacodes in excess of $800,000–little wonder, you’re derisively referred to as ESTACODE MINISTER in the Presidency. Yet, you inhumanly find it very convenient to ignore the legitimate entitlements of your aides! In this regard, be informed that you are like an ostrich that buries his head in the sand in delusion that it has hidden itself from the prying eyes of the public.”
The former aid of the minister said “It is regrettable that as a member of the Nigerian Bar, justice, fairness and equity, the tenets on which the noble profession is pillared, do not matter to you; as a supposed ‘staunch’ Muslim, fear of God is a strange word to you–you have indeed proved that you are a wolf in sheepskin, particularly to the unsuspecting members of your Islamic Faith and other Nigerians, who erroneously see you in the mould of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Unfortunately too, as a Chief of Olubadan, the famed Yoruba family values have taken a flight into oblivion in your scheme of things just because you are in a most ephemeral position as an appointee of His Excellency, President Buhari, a globally acclaimed leader of impeccable character and pedigree.
“More disturbingly, your proclivity and debasement of humanity via your unprecedented maltreatment of your appointed aides has become falteringly odious as a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with the change mantra; as a member of the Federal Executive Council, your fraudulent practices is novel and as a Community Leader, deceit is your way of life. The view that your conduct is a disgrace to Islam and mentoring in Nigeria is only an attestation to your greed, insensitivity, vindictiveness, avarice, wickedness and above all, self-centredness.”
Oluwadamilare then advised the Minister not to play to the gallery and listen to the counsels of his ‘spin doctors’ to either ignore him or take him on, saying “the best and dignified way out for you on this issue of my outstanding entitlements is to access funds from your various ‘sudden’ investments and pay me in full. Like the celebrated former Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, once said, ’’I hope my loyalty will not be put to test’’. In the same vein, I hope my resolve to collect my entitlements in full will not be put to test by you.”