NAFDAC DG and corruption allegations
Most times, when the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is in the news, it is usually for the right reasons. It is either the agency is bursting drug and food faking syndicates, closing down illegal premises where unwholesome products are being produced, destroying seized counterfeit products or sensitising the public on vigilance against potentially-harmful foods and drugs, among other things in line with its mandate.
However, recently, NAFDAC was in the news for the wrong reason. A staff of the agency and, in fact, the former Finance Director, Ademola Mogbojuri, who was redeployed recently leveled serious allegations of financial recklessness and corruption against the agency’s Director General, Dr Paul Orhii.
Mogbojuri, while speaking with newsmen, claimed he had evidence of inappropriate financial transactions involving the DG who he alleged spent money without following due process. He further disclosed that prior to the DGs appointment in 2009, the total annual revenue of NAFDAC was about 2.5 billion naira, with around 600 million in NAFDAC’s account, adding that now that the total internally generated revenue of NAFDAC is about 9 billion naira, the agency struggles with a a debt profile of about 5 billion naira.
Mogbojuri who was redeployed to NAFDAC’s training institute in Kaduna claimed the reason the agency was not paying its debts which include about 1.4 billion naira owed as remittances to government was because the DG prevented him from paying, adding that the DG was rather using some companies to siphon the agency’s money.
However, in a swift reaction to the allegations, Dr Orhii also while speaking with newsmen absolved himself of the corruption allegations leveled against him, stating that since his assumption as the helmsman of the agency, he had led in a transparent manner and followed due process in awarding contracts.
He also debunked the claim by Mogbojuri that he was mismanaging funds generated by NAFDAC, noting that even though the agency was indebted to some institutions, funds of the agency had always been judiciously used to upgrade much needed infrastructure of the agency offices across the country.
On allegation of increasing NAFDAC’s debt profile and squandering monies generated by the agency, the NAFDAC DG said the ex-finance director was both being mischievous and demonstrating incompetence, stressing that it was to his credit that while he met an IGR of 2.5 billion, within 3 years the IGR was increased to 7 billion naira last year. He added that while he hoped the figure would increase to 9 billion this year, it was wrong for Mogbojuri to say that the agency had been making 9 billion naira annually.
Dr Orhii disclosed further that without IGR, NAFDAC cannot function, stating that what the agency gets from the Federal Government is barely enough to pay salaries.
Aside Dr Orhii, chairman of the NAFDAC Workers’ Union, Isa Ibrahim also flayed Mogbojuri’s attack on the agency’s helmsman and equally alleged that the ex-finance director was in the habit of demanding bribe before releasing approved monies for projects among other misconducts.
Isa Ibrahim, who called a press conference to address the issue, said Mogbojuri never obeyed or regarded the DG or any constituted authority, noting that such act of insubordination could not be allowed to continue.
I consider this NAFDAC corruption imbroglio quite unacceptable and would suggest that the allegations and counter-allegations be investigated. NAFDAC is saddled with a very important mandate of nabbing and checkmating criminals; thus its integrity should never be in doubt.
I’m also curious to know why the ex-finance director only decided to blow the whistle on corruption after he was redeployed. This is a fundamental question because he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. On the other hand, I commend the DG NAFDAC for swiftly responding to the allegations of the ex-finance director and for addressing all the issues raised by him.
Public office holders should be ready to give account of their stewardship during and even after they have left office. Once a public officer knows that his actions or inactions can become an issue of public debate, investigation and even prosecution, then probity and accountability will become permanent regulators of their conduct.
The sad commentary of our national life is that quite a number of public office holders in times past have gotten away with impunity and sordid misdemanour. And, I dare say that as long as these indiscretions and infractions are not queried and sanctioned, many public office holders will be seen as rogues even when they are not.