These are certainly not the best of times for the managing director of Cross River Basin Development Authority (CRBDA), Engr. Bassey Nkposong. He has been suspended by the governing board of CRBDA under the chairmanship of Hon. Eseme Eyiboh over allegations of “insubordination and misconduct in the management of the affairs of the Cross River Basin Development Authority.”
In the letter suspending him from office, dated August 13, 2020, and signed Eyiboh, the board said: “I write to inform you in consequence of your failure and/or refusal to provide any representation, including cogent reasons and grounds to exculpate you from the allegations of misconduct/gross misconduct contained in our letter dated February 24, 2020, which was delivered to you on the same date by the board secretary, Barrister A.P. Udoh, and a formal query dated July 20, 2020, that the board of the authority, in exercise of its powers, has reached a decision to suspend and you are hereby suspended in substantial compliance with the extant Public Service Rules 160201(a) and the provisions of the River Basins Development Authorities Acts (as amended).
“In order to ensure an unfettered operational and administrative process and having regard to your role in the various issues/allegations raised, the board has directed that you hand over every government property and authority forthwith to the most senior director in the establishment. In addition, you are restrained by this suspension forthwith from the exercise of the powers and functions of the managing director of Cross River Basin Development Authority, pending the conclusion of further audit and administrative procedures. A detailed report on the matter is being forwarded to the Honorable Minister, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, for further and necessary actions.”
On July 20, the board had issued Nkposong an official query, titled, “Insubordination and misconduct in the management of the affairs of the Cross River Basin Development Authority.”
The query reads: “I wish to invite your attention to the extant provisions of the enabling Act—Section 7(4) of the second schedule of the River Basins Development Authorities Act (Decree No.35 of 1987, as amended, and now CAPR.9LFN), under which the board of the Cross River Basin Development Authority (CRBDA) set up an ad hoc committee to look into matters pertaining to the implementation of the Core Mandate, Procurement Practices and Establishment matters of the authority, particularly from 2018 to 2020. However, you have failed deliberately, and/or refused to respond to specific issues of corporate governance raised by the ad hoc committee in its report, copy of which was forwarded to you after the board’s resolution on the said report vide letter ref. no. CRB/AD/C.32/S/Vol. xv/172 on February 24, 2020, with a request for your response within a specified period.
2. In this regard, I wish to state that your performance/conduct is unsatisfactory in the following respects:
i. The (unauthorized) recruitment of seventy-five (75) persons in 2019 without recourse to the board in breach of section 6 (2) (a) of the RBDA Act, CAP R.9, Laws of the Federation, 2004, and the provision of Public Service Rule 160301, which expressly state that ‘all appointments to public offices, both senior and junior, in Federal Government parastatals, shall be made on the authority of the boards/councils within the approved manning levels.’
ii. The irregular conversion/absorption of thirty-five (35) contract/casual staff in 2019 without the authority of the board, and which appointment in the first instance violates the extant provisions of the Public Service Rule 020402 on contract appointment;
iii) The approval and execution by management of procurement contracts (for works and services) in excess of the two hundred and fifty million (N250,000,000.00) naira only threshold for the authority, and which were neither referred to the board for approval nor the supervising Federal Ministry of Water Resources, where the cumulative amount exceeded the authority’s threshold. The management’s resort to “contract splitting” is contrary to the provisions of the Procurement Act. Also, the Parastatal Tender’s Board of the authority (PTB), which processed and awarded the contract, is neither a procurement entity nor a contract awarding authority, but is required to forward its recommendations to the board.
3) If you desire to submit any representation on the above infractions, which constitute misconduct/serious misconduct under the provisions of the Public Service Rules, such should be forwarded to the undersigned within 72 hours of receipt by you of this letter. Failure to submit such within the time limit will be taken to mean that you do not wish to any, and that your recalcitrant behavior is unabated.
“However, further may be proceed against you in the circumstances of your refusal to reply.”
The query, which was signed by Mr. Eseme Eyiboh, chairman, Governing Board of CRBDA, Engr. Nicholas Madu (ministry’s representative); Barr. Lazarus Undie (board member); Engr. Ademola Oyadare (board member) and Alhaji Saliuu Abdulkareem (board member) was copied.
It was also gathered that the CRBDA Governing Board Adhoc committee on core mandate implementation, procurement and establishment matter frowned at the way the business of the organization was being run.
The report of the meeting with management on February 18, said: “It is the observation of the Adhoc committee that some of the actions and activities carried out by the of the CRBDA amount to grave breaches of the extant Act guiding the operation of River Basin Authourities in the country.
In a telephone chat, Undie told the reporter that Nkposong was suspended because of his refusal to respond to a query issued to him by the governing council of the CRBDA.
Undie said: “He was given a query based on petition against him. That was in February, and he didn’t respond. He didn’t explain anything. If he had responded, the procedure would have been for us to forward his response with the allegation raised to the honourable minister, who would forward it to the permanent secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, to send a report to the SGF.
“He acts like a typical sole administrator. Maybe he didn’t have a response, that’s why he did not respond.”
Undie said the suspended managing director did not carry the council along.
The reporter called Nkposong at about 3.48pm on Tuesday, August 17, but he said he was in a meeting. Daily Sun called again after about one hour as he requested, but he didn’t answer the calls.
When the reporter called the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs. Comfort Ekaro, on August 17, a lady who answered introduced herself as her personal assistant. She added that Ekaro was in a meeting. Subsequent calls to her number were not answered.