Kwara Express: Blackmails, Malicious Attacks Won't Deter Our Reform Policies - 9japarrot


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Thursday 11 February 2021

Kwara Express: Blackmails, Malicious Attacks Won't Deter Our Reform Policies

Management of Harmony Holdings Limited is fully aware of a coordinated plot by a group of persons to launch a smear campaign against its Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mallam Abdullahi Abdulmajeed. We understand it is an attempt to blackmail the GMD/CEO after the series of misinformation these elements had earlier been selling to the public regarding Kwara Express were busted on his recent explosive radio programmes.

Indeed, their pitiable situation is understandable. You do not beat a child and expect him not to wail. The coordinated advocacy and enlightenment radio programmes on Harmony Holdings and its ongoing turnaround management efforts were an eye-opener. You can situate the impacts within the context of the positive feedbacks that had been pouring in for Mallam Abdulmajeed during and after the programmes. 

Management appreciates most sincerely His Excellency, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the Executive Governor of Kwara State and indeed Kwarans for reposing their confidence in the leadership of Mallam Abdulmajeed in repositioning HHL, Kwara Express and other subsidiaries after decades of organised maladministration. We will not disappoint them.

When we got the hint of a social media gang-up plan championed by a certain Sheriff Oyewunmi and other rebels on the issue of Kwara Express, it did not come as a surprise. Oyewunmi for one is not new in the business of cooking unfounded stories against the HHL brand. But recently after the major boost recorded by our reform programme at Kwara Express, he has made it a point of duty to target the GMD/CEO.

We have always chosen not to respond to Oyewunmi's childish rants because we see him as an attention seeker trying to distract us. We are however constrained to do this just to make him and his co-travellers understand that their blackmails won't deter us. If anything, they are only strengthening us. 

*The new leadership of Harmony Holdings Limited has a non-negotiable mandate. And it is to turnaround all business entities under Harmony Holdings. There is no going back about that. We'll achieve this no matter who feels offended. Reform is not a tea party.*

This may be the first and the last time we'll be joining issues with rebel Oyewunmi. For our part, we have since moved on. Our eyes are firm on returning the glorious days of Kwara Express which is a collective patrimony of Kwarans and not the birthright of Oyewunmi and his cohorts. They took the whole issue personally and were introducing political colourations to it. They are missing the point. This is strictly about business and not politics. And it's not going to be business as usual. For the purpose of properly enlightening the public, we'll go down a bit memory lane to expose the real grouse of the renegades at Kwara Express.

When the new Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Harmony Holdings Limited, Mallam Abdullahi Abdulmajeed took over the management of the holding company, Kwara Express just like many other subsidiaries inherited by the new administration was in a state of comatose. It was battling backlogs of debts and unfulfilled obligations. So, what did the new GMD/CEO do? He investigated and chronicled the binding constraints essentially serving as a clog in the wheel of progress for Kwara Express. Three things basically he found out: seamless political interference on the part of the previous government, lack of visionary leadership on the part of the previous handlers of Harmony Holdings, and negative attitude to work on the part of workers.

He then convened a meeting with Kwara Express staff, admitting the wrongs the former handlers of Harmony Holdings did. He categorically said he would correct those wrongs, but sought the support of the staff too. He charged them to be alive to their responsibilities. In the new dawn, indolence would not be condoned. No space for corruption and financial malfeasances. And above all, corporate governance ethics would be implemented to the letter.

Mallam Abdulmajeed for a start took some bold steps in his mandate as the turnaround manager to clean the system at Kwara Express and rid it of corruption and indiscipline. Surprisingly however, this did not go down well with the major beneficiaries of the old corrupt order. What happened next? Most of the workers who were used to the old ways met the reforms with stiff resistance.

What are the old ways? Stealing some of the company's property. Shortchanging the company by running a non-transparent and unaccountable financial system. Inflating the prices of items, especially maintenance parts at very high costs. That's the thievery part. These workers are also combative. They run a Union that seeks to control and lead the management by the nose. 

It's on record that these unionists attacked the members of the Business Review and Investigation Committee (BRIC) who were on a lawful state assignment in their desperation to prevent the uncovering of the litany of fraudulent practices that had characterised that company over the years including the mismanagement that held sway when the union took charge of the affairs of the company before the appointment of the new Harmony Holdings GMD/CEO. This is the culture of impunity and indiscipline they were used to that ran the company aground.

Drivers at other transport companies resume for work around 3am, 4am. But Kwara Express drivers would walk in 8am, sometimes 9am after customers might have been delayed unnecessarily. For this, the state-owned transport company got a medal for arriving destinations very lately. Mallam Abdulmajeed insisted this trend must stop. Therefore, he introduced a biometric attendance system to Kwara Express just like other subsidiaries including the holding company. What did the rebels of which Sheriff is a part do? They failed to register. One. They gave staff members who were willing to register the beating of their lives. Two. Will progressive-minded workers engage in such an embarrassing outing? So, there's more to it than meets the eyes.

The straw that however broke the camel's back was when the new GMD/CEO made uncommon moves to reduce cost and block leakages. So, it happened that in a particular week, some buses at the transport company needed some servicing and maintenance and he decided to visit the workshop personally to ascertain the repairs and validate the cost against the previous practice of granting approval through the Turnaround Management Committee (TMC).

It was shocking to note that the repairs for which over N800,000 was requested was eventually confirmed to cost less than N130,000 based on independent findings. After approval was issued for the repairs at the confirmed cost, rather than implementing with dispatch, the unscrupulous elements posing as victims put up a defensive strategy to frustrate that reform breakthrough by ganging up with the staff union to declare an industrial strike the next day without prior notice, a practice totally against the law.

The GMD/CEO later acted deftly as he ordered the shutdown of the company until the staff are ready to embrace change. The conservatives fought back, deploying all resources at their disposal including propaganda. But what did they get out of all that? Nothing but disgrace. The rebels at Kwara Express also went to town with the narrative that the former handlers of Harmony Holdings are corrupt. We agree with them. But are the rebellious unionists in anyway different?

A huge 3 million naira in the company's account on the day they were directed to handover the management of the company back to Harmony Holdings in March 2020 mysteriously shrank to a paltry 300,000 naira in less than 72 hours free days to the end of the month even without paying salaries. These people would later come back one week after they handed over the company to HHL to demand for their monthly salaries at the time the COVID-19 lockdown order was directed.

The unionists know full well that this case among other cases of financial misappropriation is being reviewed, that's why they intend to stampede the leadership of HHL at all cost. But that's too late. When the time comes, they would be invited by anti-graft agencies to explain what transpired. They cried day and night of returning to the ministry. When the process was facilitated for them, they kept on wailing. The question now is, what exactly is the grouse with the rebels at Kwara Express? They still want to be cashing out from the transport company at the expense of the masses? Disappointingly, the game is over!

We are also aware Sheriff Oyewunmi is behind a recent fallacious, faceless Whatsapp post alleging that the GMD/CEO misappropriated 46 million naira worth of COVID-19 palliatives. That's not true and is very uninformed. It reeks of mischief and is laughable. We hope he knows the consequences of spreading injurious and slanderous remarks against people as far as the law is concerned.

For the record, Mallam Abdulmajeed indeed sought bailout from the Kwara State Government when COVID-19 grounded operations at most subsidiaries. The intervention was not only for Kwara Express as ignorantly claimed by the writer. More so, it was judiciously shared among the holding company and subsidiaries. The bailout assisted in clearing backlogs of salaries at the holding company and across subsidiaries. Some, 6 months, others, 4, 3 and 2 months. Same bailout was taken to Kwara Express to offset their salaries. They prevented the officials from gaining access to the facility to carry on with the process. 

It's from this angle we began to sense the rebels at Kwara Express are mere conflict entrepreneurs. They never wanted the issues at Kwara Express to be resolved. This may not be unconnected to the fact that they have been raking huge sums of money from the illegal loading they have been embarking on at the frontage of the transport company since the shutdown. We have evidence at our disposal to this effect. All will go to necessary quarters for action.

Meanwhile, we invite interested members of the public and even anti-graft agencies to come and investigate the matter. We'll avail them of how the bailout was spent. There's nothing to hide. The issue of misappropriation did not arise. We therefore advise Sheriff and his backers to desist from this ignoble adventure or risk the consequence of facing legal backlash if they would not listen to the voice of reason.

Meanwhile, it's reassuring that a number of Kwara Express staff have embraced the reform policies introduced by the turnaround manager and are ready to give full support to the management in ensuring that Kwara assets like Kwara Express work for about 3 million Kwarans and not a few greedy persons. Management is working with these staff members in rebuilding Kwara Express, a process that is now at the advanced stage.

The turnaround process may prove difficult but it's doable and achievable, especially with the full support we have got from the Governor, His Excellency, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq. What the previous administration failed to do, the governor is doing with uncommon courage. He has refused to interfere unnecessarily in the affairs of the holding company. Essentially, he has handed down the much needed political will to the management. The bailout fund which put smile on the faces of staff would not have been possible without his gracious approval. We thank him most sincerely because he has refused to succumb to blackmails and crocodile tears in the matter of Kwara Express. He's a major backer of our resolve to get a Kwara Express that serves the majority satisfactorily and not a stealing pot for a few.

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