NGO condemns alleged blackmail of Rural Electrification Agency head, calls for action
It added that if Nigerians desire accomplished professionals like Salihijo to serve them in public offices, they must, therefore, rise up as a people against character assassination by blackmailers on the prowl.The NGO spoke at a press conference addressed by its Executive Director, Comrade ‘Lanre Oladunjoye, in Abuja, where it said the alleged blackmailers claimed to lead a coalition of investigative journalists, which has since denounced them.“Their claimed places of employment as journalists also don’t exist as ongoing concerns.
“Indeed, their leadership of the said organization they claim to represent is only a figment of their imagination. We challenge them to present the certificate of registration and annual report required of a nonprofit with the purported name of Coalition of West African Investigative Journalists and their recognition as leaders for scrutiny. We know this doesn’t exist.
“Let us reiterate at this juncture that no laws are violated by public officials whose BVN are linked prior to engagement in public office to accounts in corporate, nonprofits and religious organizations like those revealed by the illegal document these men are using to blackmail the agency and her leadership.
“There is no mechanism to remove BVN nor requirements to do so or close accounts after a rich private career and a subsequent public appointment in Nigeria today. In so far as such accounts are not utilized to pilfer, siphon, or transact public business while in office nor operated where not personal by the public official – no law is violated.
“We challenge these blackmailers to prove otherwise. If we want accomplished professionals to serve, then we must stand up against charlatans,” it said.
The group noted that it was not unaware of the good works of the agency under Salihijo including attracting additional $750 million in funding to enhance renewable energy for rural electrification just last week, to further boost the impact of the agency and supporting the efforts of the President Bola Tinubu administration, a development it said will continue to attract the envy of detractors including those that perceive the agency as ripe for looting.
“Let us reiterate as a public accountability platform ourselves, we will monitor the use of any funds including the new injection for the benefit of the people regardless of who is at the saddle at REA or the Ministry of Power.
“What should not be tolerated as Nigeria goes through this critical transition period is blackmail and tarnishing the image of an agency that have done so much for Nigeria especially the poorest in our rural areas who have borne the burden of the current economic reforms and whom the President has assured of fulfilling his promise in his inaugural speech of accessible electricity for all.
“There is no way the World Bank in a vote of confidence will expand an existing $350 million facility to REA under the leadership of Engineer Ahmad Salihijo by another $750 million if he was not a prudent, transparent and professional manager of resources. The libelous blackmailers definitely picked the wrong target in a performing leader like Engineer Ahmad Salihijo and should lay away their malicious intent designed to hurt Nigeria.
“It is also critical the members of the public be aware that both individuals parading as leaders of this coalition have personal antecedents as blackmailers and men that lack personal integrity that were relieved of their professional positions due to unethical conducts and substance abuse.
“Aside from investigation by the Nigerian Union of Journalist, we urge security agencies to immediately investigate these blackmailers that now pose a threat to the operability of the Nigerian government and good order as this threat has not just been to REA but various other MDAs whose heads have been subject of attacks,” it stated.
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