Institutions and the attack dogs – Part 2
There’s a huge campaign of calumny against me and this organisation. Don’t forget that the agricultural agenda of the presidency and the central bank is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. Like the importers of tomatoes, the importers of palm oil and the rest are very angry and unhappy. “They ask; ‘why should the CBN not give foreign exchange? Why should Emefiele be rigging this revolution?’ Emefiele never forgets where he comes from in Agbor. How he grew up. How he suffered to go through school. You see him as CBN Governor on TV, but believe me, this man is a different person altogether. He is so full of humility and love. “He tells me that Aliyu, if you think you are getting attacked one time, multiply that by a hundred in terms of what I get. Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele speaks during the monthly Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja, Nigeria January 26, 2016. (Reuters)
Hear him: “Emefiele’s heart is clear. I learn humility from Emefiele. Some people think my job is a political appointment so they attack me. Somebody told me that ‘you think this honeymoon will continue? Your baptism is coming.’ “Without Emefiele, we wouldn’t be where we are as an organisation. The credit should not come to me at all. If people attack me, they are attacking the agricultural policy of this government. People are angry that they are being stopped from importing rice.
There are sponsors behind all of these media attacks. “How can someone write that the MD of NIRSAL has put the entire capital in his pocket and run away? “They say I have stolen N75 billion or N5.6 billion from a wheat project in Jigawa? They say my son drives a Lamborghini and is spraying millions of dollars on the streets of Dubai…come on!” Forcing staff to sign non-disclosure forms and dictatorship at NIRSAL On allegations that he’s forcing his employees to sign secrecy agreements, Hameed says, “when I pay salaries, you’d hear complaints, when I do trainings, people would complain, when I do welfare, just be ready to be receiving information. “If I sign on this desk for those that did ICAN to go and pay their dues or that the lawyers should go and pay their dues at NBA, I can assure you that the other people that are not lawyers would write to you to say I’m practicing favoritism. “If every little thing I do here as CEO is subject to second guessing, it’s up to us to figure out what is reasonable or what is not.
“Which organisation, from Zenith bank or any organisation in this world, would allow its IT policy or corporate policy to be breached? So you mean that everything I do here, every board decision, I am supposed to call staff and say please can you take it to the street and share it? “Is there any organisation that doesn’t have a code of corporate governance and oath of secrecy? Is that not backed by law? Is what we are doing not backed by the laws of corporations in Nigeria and around the world or not? Are there not confidentiality agreements in corporate settings everywhere?
On the allegations of forcing staff to take oath of secrecy he responded thus: “Because, some of our staff are in charge of personal files, some staff are in charge of your salary file. So someone wants to carry our staff file and salary file and staff location number and go and share with kidnappers and killers right? “If staff are complaining, why is it that when they join, they don’t say they won’t sign the oath of secrecy like any other organisation? Why don’t they leave? And who says as a young organisation, we cannot be improving our regulations and rules as we go along? As we learn?
“There are some things that are reasonable, there are some things that do not make sense. If I don’t do what I am supposed to do as CEO, I may as well resign and go and tell Gov Emefiele that I can’t do this job anymore. “If any staff meets you with these allegations, ask them why they haven’t resigned and gone to any organisation in the United States or in Nigeria where they don’t sign corporate governance forms. By the way, I am an employee here too, I also signed those forms.” On allegations that he appointed a daughter of the nation’s police boss in order to bribe the IGP and shield himself from interrogation and a possible arrest, Hameed dismissed this phantom accusations as follows: “So if your sister, or your son or brother’s son qualifies for a job after an interview and I say come and do a job, he knows risk management, he knows finance, he knows agriculture, so it’s a crime because I know Mr. A, not to employ that person?
“Forget whether it is IG (Inspector General) or President Buhari or Governor Emefiele or that man on the street. “The majority of my Technical Assistants are from which ethnic group? Tosin (one of his assistants) is from Osun State. They even wrote that I have a car and driver. Why should MD of NIRSAL have a driver? Or why should my wife have a driver? “You know, 90 percent of our work is in the bush with farmers, kidnappers and armed robbers. If you guarantee a project, you have to go monitor on the ground so that it doesn’t fail. The board decided to buy bulletproof cars for staff, management and board members when they go on site visits. And they say Aliyu has bought cars….
“Did the board purchase these cars and say ‘Aliyu these are your personal cars, drive them?’ Were the cars bought in my name or there are company assets? They say MD has 11 cars scattered across the country, right? Why can’t they say every bulletproof vehicle, pick-ups, are Aliyu’s? In other words, why did God create me? Because they say why should my children go to school? “If I leave NIRSAL today, I leave all the assets here for the new MD’s use.
As an activist I hereby pass a vote of confidence on the institution of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc.) which is a US$500million Non-Bank Financial Institution wholly-owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) created to Redefine, Dimension, Measure, Re-Price and Share agribusiness-related credit risks in Nigeria. Established in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and Nigerian Bankers’ Committee in 2013, NIRSAL’s mandate is to stimulate the flow of affordable finance and investments into the agricultural sector by de-risking the agribusiness finance value chain, fixing agricultural value chains, building long-term capacity, and institutionalizing incentives for agricultural lending through its five (5) strategic pillars, namely: Risk Sharing, Insurance, Technical Assistance, Incentives and Rating. The current leadership has done well. One good turn, deserves another.
Onwubiko is the head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
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