Hadiza Bala Usman, former managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has opened up on the major issues that led to her ouster by Rotimi Amaechi, former minister of transportation.
Bala-Usman was suspended as NPA’s managing director in 2021, and eventually replaced by Mohammed Bello-Koko in 2022.
Her suspension was recommended by Amaechi who alleged that the agency, under her watch, failed to remit N165 billion operating surplus to the coffers of the federal government.
However, she was exonerated by an administrative panel of inquiry set up to investigate the alleged mismanagement.
Speaking on the troubled times as the agency’s boss in her newly released book, titled, ‘Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority’, Bala-Usman said Amaechi wanted her out of NPA because “two of the most important contracts in the authority were due for renewal”.
She accused the minister of demanding “an extension of tenure of the companies providing capital dredging services without due process”.
The ex-NPA boss added that Amaechi also “got approval for the restoration of an expired service boat contract” despite the company’s initial deal being terminated for violation of the federal government treasury single account (TSA) policy.
“At this point, it occurred to me what that stakeholder said about the minister wanting me out of office at the point that two of the most important contracts in the authority were due for renewal. The first of these was the capital dredging contract and the second, was the service boat management contract,” Bala-Usman wrote.
“While the minister demanded an extension of tenure of the companies providing capital dredging services without due process, he got approval for the restoration of an expired service boat contract. He got this even though the company was owing the federal government, had violated the treasury single account policy, and above all, no longer had any contract with the NPA. I thought that his desperation to keep me out of office was to an end.”
In 2017, the federal government terminated its pilotage agreement with Integrated Logistics Services (Intels).
Intels, a logistics and facilities services provider in the maritime and oil and gas sectors, was co-founded by Gabriele Volpi, an Italian national, and Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria.
Abubakar Malami, attorney general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, said the initial agreement, which has allowed Intels to receive revenue on behalf of NPA for 17 years, violates sections 80 (1) and 162 (1) and (10) of the constitution.
Malami then advised President Muhammadu Buhar, in 2022, to cancel any restoration of Intel’s contract with the NPA.