Monday, March 30, 2009

APRM SOUTH AFRICAN SECRETARIAT IN TURMOIL

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By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
March 29, 2009

The staff and international stakeholders are raising alarm at increasingly fraudulent practices currently dogging the APRM Secretariat in South Africa.
Nigerian Prof Adebayo Adedeji’s tenure as the Panel Chair was bad enough before it was unprocedurally extended by the current APRM Summit chairman, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia whose country is a candidate for review in the coming months.

At the Secretariat, there has been no substantive Chief Executive since Dr. Bernard Kouassi of Ivory Coast left unceremoniously more than a year ago.
The CEO’s absence has enabled Adedeji, the current Panel Chairman to usurp the operations of the APRM Secretariat in South Africa to the extent that he is able to run the affairs of the institution from his village in Nigeria.

It is alleged that the biggest casualty are the staff who he has decided to terminate their services with effect from March 31, 2009. They must reapply for new positions designed by Adedeji and his fellow Nigerian, one Mr. Afeikhena Jerome; this is despite the fact that the new structure is yet to be approved by the AU Council of Ministers and the Summit of Heads of State and Government in June 2009.

When Kouassi left, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi appointed a fellow Ethiopian to act as CEO, however, on the ground, the professor has pushed him aside and instead installed Jerome to be his ears and eyes on the ground whenever he is away from the Secretariat

According to reports coming from the Secretariat; Adedeji’s design is to pack the institution with fellow Nigerians considering that he was vehemently opposed to the appointment of a very qualified Ghanaian to the Panel of Eminent Persons; never mind that his term expired more that a year ago.

Now he has planted one belligerent Nigerian called Afeikhena Jerome to run the place instead of Meles’s appointee as part of the takeover scheme of the institution by Adedeji and by extension his fellow Nigerians.

To accomplish their scheme, Adedeji and Jerome have developed a new structure for the institution with more bureaucratic layers than ever before that they intend to give Meles Zenawi for tabling at the next APRM Summit. In this design, Adedeji is suggesting a new office called the AU Office for APRM at the AU Secretariat in Addis Ababa.

At a glance this office will serve no better purpose except to increase bureaucracy and cut off the Panel of Eminent Persons from interacting directly with the APRM Forum as is presently the case.

Reliable and authoritative sources at the Secretariat indicate that because of Jerome’s loyalty to the chairman, he was rewarded with drafting his own TOR and proposed for the office of the Deputy Director General or at least a Director’s position.

The bigger casualty will be the Chief Executive who will this time be five ladders down the line from the AU Heads of State and Government.

Curiously, Adedeji is suggesting that the post of current Executive Director be renamed Director General and upgraded to the level of AU Commissioner.

The ambiguity here is simple; either Adedeji is silently campaigning to be appointed the first holder of the AU Office for APRM however, should he fail to get it; he can always be considered for the Post of Director General with AU Commissioner perks for at least two years before some hawkeyed Head of State like President Abdulahi Wade detects the ploy and forces him out.

To date, of the original Panel Members, Bethwel Kiplagat of Kenya is about to retire. He will be replaced by the Rwandan head of Gacaca courts.
Dr. Dorothy Njeuma of Cameroon ‘s term is also about to expire while the controversial Angelique Savani was forced out much earlier even before Dr. Kouassi left the Secretariat

Incidentally, the Ghanaian whom Adedeji refers to derogatively as a mere reverend is perhaps many times more qualified and more morally fit to be on the panel than Adedeji and several other former Panel members.

For starters, Dr. Kwadwo Agyampong is the current chairman of the National APRM Governing Council of Ghana, one of the earliest and most successful APRM programmes in the continent. He is currently the President of the Methodist University of Ghana, a Professor of Physics and a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast in Ghana.

The tragedy of all these intrigues is that as of now, Adedeji has unilaterally sacked the entire staff at the secretariat in a recent circular that nullified their appointments and asked them to reapply for the 30 newly created positions that include the Post of Director General and his Deputy.

The question is; how can an Internal Auditor and the Director of Finance & Admin be directly under the office of the Chief Executive without experiencing accountability difficulties? This arrangement is a recipe for gross mismanagement of the Secretariat’s resources.

If today Adedeji is travelling First Class from Abuja to Johannesburg via London with a week’s stop over at APRM expense, prepares and approves his own travel expenses as reports from the APRM Secretariat indicate even before he takes full control; what will it be after he takes over?

The truth is, Adedeji’s tenure even now has sent wrong signals to Development Partners and soon no donor will be funding the APRM secretariat.

Again once the Member States get to grasp what is going on; chances are that annual contributions will be hard to come by; thanks to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for giving one Professor Adebayo Adedeji a rope with which to hang the APRM.

jerryokungu@gmail.com
www.africanewsonline.blogspot.com

2 comments:

NEPAD Kenya Secretariat said...
April 3, 2009 at 10:51 AM  

In his profile, Mr. Jerry Okungu claims that he is “currently a consultant on Media and Communications for NEPAD Kenya Secretariat,” and that he is “running a programme that retrains African journalists across the continent on refocussing on African Affairs. This programme is under the auspices of the Nepad Kenya Secretariat in partnership with CIDA-CANADA Fund For Africa”.

NEPAD Kenya Secretariat would like to clarify that Mr. Okungu worked as a consultant under the above-mentioned project of the NEPAD Kenya Secretariat with CIDA-Canada. This project ended with the organization of an Eastern Africa Journalism Forum from 16th to 20st March, 2008 in Arusha, Tanzania. Thus, Mr. Okungu’s affiliation with NEPAD Kenya Secretariat ended in March 2008.

Africa News Online said...
April 3, 2009 at 1:36 PM  

Dr. Ongile is right. The profile has never been updated just like the NEPAD Kenya Secretariat website that was last updated years ago.

Jerry Okungu
Africa News On Line