Row in NBMA as FCSC reverses director’s promotion 3 years after

There is a row over the demotion and transfer of the embattled Director of Administration and Finance of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rebecca O. J. Oamen, sources have told Blueprint.

In the middle of the row are the Director General of the agency, Dr. Agnes Asagbra and Dr Oamen on the one hand, and some other top civil servants on the other.

Blueprint sources said the affected civil servant was demoted by the Office of Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) from a substantive director to a deputy director, having transferred her service to the agency in 2020.

…The genesis

It was gathered that her travail began when the agency’s DG, who assumed office May 2023, allegedly orchestrated the posting of one Mr. Ehikhamenor Steve Ehiochoya from the OAGF as the agency’s DAF.

Available documents showed Mrs. Oamen had at different times, complained to the OAGF, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), the Minister of Environment, and the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offices Commission (ICPC) on the alleged abnormality.

The documents further revealed that she sought Ehiochoya’s redeployment from the agency to salvage the accounting profession from the hands of highly corrupt individuals.

 …Her demotion

In a document obtained by Blueprint, dated 22nd September, 2023, marked:  TRO/865/VOL. XVI/242, and signed by the Director of Administration OAGF, Mariya A.D. Rufa’i, she was  redeployed to the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) as an accountant in the deputy director cadre.

The document contained the posting of 115 names of deputy directors who were redeployed to various ministries, agencies, and parastatals of the federal government.

However, our findings revealed she was promoted a substantive director with effect from 01/01/2021 by the NBMA board, thus showing a demotion of sort.

 …Initial appointment, promotion 

In two documents cited by this medium, dated 31st of August 2016, and 28th December, 2020, respectively, and signed by the then agency’s DG, Dr.  Rufus Ebegba, she was appointed as deputy director of finance September 1st, 2016, and was promoted to director with effect from January 1, 2021, a development Ebegba confirmed to Blueprint.

But the FCSC, in a letter dated 12th of December, 2023, and signed by Director of Recruitment and Appointment, Ogba Ede, said her transfer of service to the agency as deputy director (Accounts) was done in error, and directed her recall as the Chief Executive Officer (Accounts) GL. 14, with immediate effect.

…FCSC’s earlier directive

In another document obtained by Blueprint, and marked: FC. 164984/28, dated 2nd October 2020, and signed by Mr. James Sule, Director of Recruitment and Appointment, FCSC approved her transfer to the agency as deputy director of Accounts SGL 16, stating that “notice to the effect will be published in the Federal Government official gazette.”

‘…It’s an injustice of sort

With this development, an agency source who craved anonymity, claimed Oamen’s name had been removed from the organization’s payroll as at the time of this report.

“As an insider, I can confirm to you that she did not receive the December 2023 salary. It is very clear that the DG is the one masterminding all of these moves. There is need for her to clear the air.

“Well, I think President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should wade into this because what we are experiencing here is a war of ego. The woman in question was deployed to the agency years back only to be told that it was done in error. Some people are playing pranks somewhere.

“I just imagine myself passing through same thing after I must have been promoted a director.  It’s high time we did things right and avoid an injustice under whatever guise in this country. The DG has some explanations to make. Injustice against one, they say, is injustice against all. It’s Oamen today, who knows, it could be me tomorrow,” said the source who is in the know of the controversy.

…NBMA DG reacts

Though the NBMA boss, Dr. Asagbra, was not available for comments, but when our correspondents visited the agency Monday last week, the duo of the Head of Human Resources Management of the agency, Ugo Agwu Nnachi, and the Head of Communications, Gloria Ogbaki, absolved her of any wrongdoing.

In separate interviews, the duo said Mrs. Oamen was a pool officer who could be transferred by the OAGF.

Nnachi said: “The DG has no right to reject any person posted by the accountant general to the agency, especially because of the circular that states that Chief Executives should not reject postings which has certain sanctions with it.

“When the DFA that was posted here reported, the sitting DFA raised objections that the person posted should be posted back since posting is done subject to vacancy and there cannot be two directors heading one department and the DG said that it wasn’t in her place to reject based on the circular that had gone round already but at the same time knows the do’s and don’ts of the civil service.

“And now the Director Finance and Accounting has issues with that and then began to react. Somewhere along the line, another posting came after a month which posted a DD account to the agency and which also reflected her name in that same posting as being posted out of the agency to the same Federal Civil Service Commission and which also escalated issues to the point of another letter stating that her transfer was done in error by the civil service commission returning her back to the accountant general office of the Federation as a chief executive officer.  So, in all of this, I don’t see how the agency can be faulted.

“For me personally, in all of this, if Dr. Mrs Oamen has an issue, it should be directed at the bodies that did the posting, the recalling and all of that. The agency cannot fight them and that’s where we stand.”

Corroborating the position, Ogbaki, the head of the press unit said: “There is no evidence suggesting the DG NBMA pushed Dr Oamen out of the agency.”

However, efforts to get the Permanent Secretary FCSC, Dr Yakubu Kofan-Mata’s reaction was futile as calls and text messages sent to him were not answered.

…Promotion in order – Ex-NBMA DG

When contacted, the immediate past Director-General of the NBMA, Dr. Ebegba, said: “She was transferred from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation as a deputy director, to the agency, and she then requested for the transfer of service from the Federal Civil Service Commission, which is the custodian of such matters.

“After she had spent four years, the agency recommended her to the board for promotion as a director. Working with her as her boss was strictly professional and I recommended her as a very hardworking person.”

…Oamen declines comment

When Blueprint sought to hear from the embattled director, she said, “Yes, I have some complaints which I have made appropriately to the right quarters. I am not speaking to the press. That’s all.”

When further probed, she retorted and cut off the reporter’s call.   

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