There was commotion at the Nigerian headquarters of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development on Tuesday as workers of the agency engaged in fisticuffs, while protesting against the alleged reappointment of the Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze, as NEPAD’s Coordinator/Chief Executive.

The peaceful protest at the agency degenerated into fisticuffs as some of the workers loyal to Njeze tried to stop the larger number of the employees from going outside the premises of the organisation.

Our correspondent gathered that the special adviser, whose job was meant to end at the expiration of the tenure of the former President, called some directors of the agency last Thursday to announce her new portfolio as the coordinator.

Explaining what led to the protest, an official of the agency, who spoke to our correspondent in confidence, said Njeze claimed that she was appointed the coordinator of NEPAD by the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Pius Anyim.

The official said, “It is only the President of Nigeria that has the right to appoint his special adviser on NEPAD. But in this case, we saw a different title when the entire organisational structure has not been changed. If you want to have a coordinator/chief executive, then you must have the structure changed.

“But as it is now, the organisation’s structure is still the same and it is not even a parastatal but a department under the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. So, we NEPAD staff members are saying that if you want to become a chief executive, there should be enabling laws that will make it happen. You cannot change your own appointment overnight when there is a change in government.

“What we are saying categorically is that President Muhammadu Buhari should appoint a special assistant on NEPAD. There is nothing like coordinator and chief executive. This organisation is not a statutory agency and there is no tenured appointment. Assistants are appointed by the President; and as a special assistant, once your boss is leaving, you leave with him.”

When asked to state who issued the re-appointment letter to Njeze, another official involved in the protest said, “The person that gave the letter to her was the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, and not the present President.”

Asked if Njeze had announced her new appointment to the workers of the organisation, the official said, “She did not come here to tell us. She only called the directors to tell them that that was her new portfolio, and that was at about 6pm on Thursday on the last day of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure.”

When our correspondent probed further by asking the official if the protesting workers saw the letter before disrupting activities at the agency, the official said, “Former President Jonathan directed that all handing over should be done on or before April 20, but she (Njeze) has yet to hand over. She is supposed to hand over to the most senior director but she has not done that and this is because of the new letter she is flaunting.”

The Chief Press Secretary, NEPAD, Mrs. Janet Dickson, refused to comment on the issue when contacted by our correspondent.

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