By Ejike Ejike, Abuja
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Monday, inaugurated a 10-man panel of enquiry to probe the activities of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from 2016 to date as well as some actions of its suspended managing director, Hadiza Bala-Usman.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday, May 6, 2021 ordered investigation into the activities of the management of NPA and as well approved the suspension of the NPA MD pending the outcome of the investigation by the panel of enquiry.
The suspension may not be unconnected with the alleged operating surplus remittance shortfalls by NPA to the tune of N165,320,962,697.
The 10-man panel is chaired by Suleiman Auwalu, director (Maritime Services) in the Transportation Ministry, and to be co-chaired by Ben Omogo, director, organisational design and development in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of Federation while Gabriel Fan, deputy director (Legal Services), Federal Ministry of Transportation, will act as secretary.
Other members of the panel include Dr. Hussani Adamu, director, procurement; Mrs. Blessing Azorbo, director, Legal Services, (OHCSF); Mrs. Mercy Ilori, director, transport planning coordination; Mr. Muhiy-deen Awwal, director, Human Resources Management, and three staff of Human Resources Management as secretariat staff.
The minister, while inaugurating the panel, said their terms of reference include: “Examine and investigate the administrative policies and strategies adopted by the managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with extant laws and rules from 2016 — date; examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of pilotage and other contracts of Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court rulings and presidential directives.
“Examine and investigate compliance with the communication channel as obtained in the public service; examine and investigate the procurement of contracts from 2016 to date; come up with suggestions and advice that would strengthen the operations of Nigerian Ports Authority and forestall such occurrences in future and any other matter that may be necessary in the course of the assignment.”
It will be also recalled that the minister of Transportation, had in a letter dated March 4, 2021 and addressed to President Buhari, requested for approval to audit the NPA accounts from 2016 to date.
Part of the letter titled “Remittance of operating surplus to the consolidated revenue fund account (CRF) by the Nigerian Ports Authority from 2016 – date” and sighted by LEADERSHIP, stated that “it has been observed from the records submitted by the Budget Office of the Federation that the yearly remittance of operating surpluses by the Nigerian Ports Authority from year 2016 to 2020 has been far short of the amount due for actual remittance
“In view of the above I wish to suggest that the financial account of the activities of Nigerian Ports Authority be investigated for the period 2016 to 2020 to ascertain the true financial position and the outstanding unremitted balance of N165,320,962,697.”
The minister prayed the president to approve that the account and remittance of NPA in the period of 2016 to 2020 be audited to account for the gross shortfall of remitted public funds, which was approved by the president on March 17, 2021 communicated to the ministry of Transportation in another letter dated on March 30, 2021 by the Chief of staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.