Home Opinion In defence of Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the outgoing NAN MD

In defence of Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the outgoing NAN MD

BIOLA LAWAL

The write-up by NAN union leaders on our outgoing MD, Mr. Bayo Onanuga is very bad, most unfair on his person and made one feel like crying for a good man being maligned so recklessly.

This kind of intimidating, grossly unfair and reckless aspersion on the good character of Mr. Onanuga is unGODly to say the least. Since no one is perfect, I am of the opinion that whatever the grudge or case anybody might wish to make against reappointment of our MD, it is like incurring GOD’s curse on oneself to describe Mr. Bayo Onanuga as corrupt, not to even say ‘’the most corrupt MD’’ NAN ever had.

I found this very disheartening because it is a very reckless and unfair statement. I think that time is ripe that people writing petitions that are unfounded and wishful, recklessly damaging other people’s character should also be sanctioned severely by EFCC, ICPC etc if we are not to discourage good people from venturing into governance.

Many of the issues raised are like desperately looking for anything to smear Mr. Onanuga.  I am one of closest persons to Mr. Onanuga as NAN MD. More than any NAN MD in recent time, Mr. Onanuga ran NAN at an incredible personal sacrifice which always astonishes me.

I remember a particular incident when all was set for him to go on a foreign tour, I think, for Fed. Govt. Then last minute, a power problem occurred- an expensive Nepa cable or something like that that brought electricity to NAN was vandalized leaving the Agency in total darkness.

The MD refused to travel again despite the loss of the estacode that was to accrue to him. He released all the prepared fund for the trip to restore power. I remember telling him when he did that that, maybe, he is not a ‘’Nigerian’’ because many of us may never do that.

NAN has a big office in Lagos, all former NAN MD’s paid working visits to Lagos regularly and usually collect their trip entitlements in full on all occasions.

Now, let us look at Mr Onanuga as NAN MD. The first time he was to visit Lagos as MD, the usual MD financial package was prepared for him, very robust!. But unlike most of us Nigerians, he refused to collect it. His argument; ‘’Why should I collect money for hotel etc when I know that I have a house in Lagos and am going to stay there’’. NAN only paid his flight ticket, and that is how he kept it throughout his tenure.

I will cite a few more cases to leave the public to judge this MD and the need to put a clause in the petition writing law that will prescribe severe punishment for anyone exploiting it to malign the good character of decent Nigerians.

As MD, Mr. Onanuga was entitled to at least N200,000 monthly imprest. He out-rightly refused to collect it. His argument: NAN financial position is too poor to justify such payment. to him. He cut it to N50,000 which he only randomly approved and is spent by his secretary to run MD office.

Former MD’s collected fueling allowance of about N100,000 monthly to sustain the routine of their office. Mr. Onanuga as MD refused to collect. I think, he slashed it to about N30 or N50,000 monthly which is also irregularly paid.

When he assumed office in May 2016, he met NAN rationing power. No electricity everyday from morning till about 11 am. He immediately abolished it.. He said that as a news Agency, NAN cannot afford 5 to 6 hours shut shut down in the morning hours. He cut the fuel allowances of all entitled officers and pulled it to regularly fuel NAN generators.

On revenue, I am the Agency’s Director of Marketing and I know all about the revenue of the Agency. I can confidently and truthfully say anywhere that Mr. Onanuga never engaged in any deal, shady or clean with our revenue. All our revenue goes into Federal TSA account.

There are only two instances from Marketing side when revenue from a consultancy service we billed for in partnership with a technical partner and negotiated to benefit NAN,  had to be paid into NANBizcom because all the money did not belong to NAN.

The partner to execute the technical part of the project must be given their part of the money which was promptly remitted from Bizcom account. The balance which belonged to NAN was also promptly paid into NAN TSA.

The corporate organization which gave NAN the consultancy service were so happy that they renewed it promptly this year. Since the whole money does not belong to NAN, it would have been naïve business-wise to pay the whole sum into TSA because 25% of the sum for the project would been remitted to FG which would have certainly jeopardized execution of the project.

The second instance was a client I personally got for NAN. I got the client, through a consultancy agency who are entitled to commission which they built into the bill of their client. The whole money no longer belong to NAN, hence, they had to pay it into NANBizcom account from where their commission and my Marketer’s commission were remitted.

The sum that belonged to NAN was promptly paid to NAN TSA account. FG’s 25% was fully paid to the Government. The records are there for verification.

The third payment into NANBizcom, which I was not aware until receipt was issued by NAN accounts was done erroneously by a NAN staff who eventually made NAN to lose about N300,000 revenue by his unilateral action. Mr. Onanuga corrected that by abrogating the loophole that made such misconduct possible.

I challenge anyone, including NAN union leaders, who has anything contrary to what I stated above to tender them. All documents for the first two transactions above involving Bizcom are in the files for anyone to verify. Even the third one is now with marketing department.

On cars sold to Heads of Department and Directors. So, what is the big deal about it. In fact, and for avoidance of doubt, I wish to state for the benefit of the public, that Mr. Onanuga was totally against the sale even though he stood to benefit if the cars were sold as he was entitled to buy his official car also.

We, the Head of Departments and units were the ones that pressurized him to sell them to us. He still refused totally until we were able to show him the Federal Government and Civil Service Circular that permitted the car sales.

Even to buy his own, he was not willing. We were the ones that also made him to budge. It would have been an unnecessary sacrifice for a people, or a nation that hardly ever appreciate its good ones. That was how I personally felt for him about his refusal to buy his official car.

All relevant government organs were involved in the sale process in accordance with the circular. And for the union leaders and any NAN staff who might think like them, they should know that they are being unfair to us, their Directors or Head of Departments. Maybe they are so proud and happy that many of us have spent over 30 years in NAN with salary so poor that some have never owned a car or built a house

This shows that you too do not care for us. As Directors and HOD’s we are entitled to monthly imprest which we never got due to the poor financial state of NAN, no  sympathy for that .

My appeal is that the media must refused to be used to smear one of the living pride of our profession. I also wish to appeal to Mr. Onanuga to please sue NAN union leaders for attempt to criminally damage his hard-earned good reputation. I will, by the grace of ALLAH, be ready to testify in his favour in court.

For President Muhammadu Buhari, I appeal to him to give Mr. Bayo Onanuga a national duty far bigger than NAN, because he represented everything that the President stood for. Anti-corruption, prudency and selfless service.

There is no doubt that some staff, including myself may disagree with some of the MD’s policy, that is understandable. His insistence on professional excellence to maintain NAN leadership position in the media industry may be tough but must be achieved and is commendable. He appreciated excellence and rewarded it with promotion in some instances.

His policy of using former NAN senior Directors to set promotion examination questions was caused by staff who complained of alleged leakages. As a listening leader, the issue was raised at the recent Management meeting to emphasise that Directors be allowed to set questions as is the tradition while strategies be evolved to block possible leakage.

His achievements remained unequal in repositioning NAN for better service delivery. NAN website, www.nan.ng has become a global cynosure boosting the image of NAN. As Director Marketing, I receive messages from across the world from people wanting to patronize the site. Private sector firms patronizing NAN online advert to showcase their products is increasing.

He built a Corporate Publicity Website for NANPrwire service, www.nanprwire.com which has expanded our revenue intake. He strengthened NAN SMS news service by building a dedicated website for NANMobile general news service to boost information dissemination to all Nigerians at a very cheap rate of N50 per week on www.nanmobile.ng . He is about to build another one for our money spinner, NAN Corporate SMS Service. Within his three years as MD, he built a Multimedia news portal for the agency www.nanmultimedia.ng

May GOD reward him for his selfless service to Nigeria through NAN.

.Alh (Hon). Biola Lawal, Director (Marketing), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and former Honourable Commissioner for Information, Youth, Sports and Culture, Osun State, could be reached via 08025852890 or [email protected]

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