Osinbajo, $20 Million Fund – Why Tinubu May Have Fired Ex-NASENI Boss

President Bola Tinubu on Friday approved the appointment of Khalil Suleiman Halilu as the new Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).

The President, in a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said the appointment is with immediate effect.

President Tinubu, by the fresh appointment, also directed the immediate termination of the tenure of Dr. Bashir Gwandu as EVC/CEO of NASENI.

While the presidency did not give a reason for Gwandu’s sack, facts reveal why the former NASENI boss was relieved of his duties.

It was gathered that Gwandu, appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in May, was in Milan, Italy, on an official visit when his removal was announced.

Speaking to Leadership newspaper, sources pinned his removal on two possible reasons, none related to his qualifications or competence.

One source said: “You will recall that he was recommended for the position by former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is not in the good books of the current administration, even though they’re all members of the same party.”

According to the source, it was only a matter of time before President Tinubu would be forced to create room to accommodate many of his supporters complaining loudly of being left in the cold.

Another source, however, said that Gwandu’s removal may have to do with his position on the management of the $20.5 million Delta-2 programme, a research and innovation exchange programme between Nigeria and the Czech Republic that was supposed to run between 2020 and 2025.

While Nigeria was supposed to contribute $10 million to the programme through NASENI, the Czech Republic was also supposed to contribute $10.5 million through the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TA-CR), its domestic equivalent of NASENI.

A source said: “Since Gwandu assumed duties, some members of the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC) on Technology Transfer/Information Exchange between Nigeria and the Czech Republic have been mounting pressure on him to release money. He has refused, insisting that the programme had not been properly implemented so far.”

The source added that Gwandu’s meeting with the Czech Ambassador to Nigeria, Zdenek Krejci, in Abuja about two weeks ago reinforced his feeling that highly placed persons in NASENI and the PIC may have shortchanged Nigeria.

“Instead of investing part of the funds already released in research, innovation, and actually local manufacturing for 25 of the 285 companies selected for the programme,” the source said, “the officials were simply using the money to travel around the world. When Gwandu told them enough was enough, they petitioned the Presidency.”

The source said the Presidency had invited Gwandu over the matter, “but it seems they have made up their minds that he had to go, in spite of his defence.”

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