Former Bring Our Girls Campaigner now MD NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman


Strong indications emerged that the primary reason why the zonal structure of the Nigerian Ports Authority was scrapped was part of efforts to concentrate all powers and control mechanisms at the headquarters, contrary to earlier claims by its Managing Director, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman.

The MD, who has been variously described as a round peg in a square hole had commenced a process of restructuring the existing operational and management structures of NPA, about one year after she assumed office as part of measures to give her a total control of the authority.

Under the new structure, which led to the reduction of the number of General Managers from 25 to 22, she scrapped the zonal structure of the authority such that all departments in the ports will now report directly to the head office, thus putting her in total control.

Before now, the authority operated a decentralised two-zone structure comprising the Western Zone Port, which coordinates operational activities of the seaports in Lagos while the Eastern Zone Port coordinates activities of ports in Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri, headed by two different General Managers.

It was also in line with the need to bring the management system close to operational areas to enhance efficiency and response time that the authority incorporated the Lagos Channel Management LCM, Company to manage its channels in the Lagos area while the Bonny Channel Management Company BCM takes care of channels in the eastern ports

Investigations however showed that the decision of the MD, who knows next to nothing about seaport operations, was informed by her desperation to clip the wings of some GMs with robust experience in port operations and management, who she believed, were too powerful and many of who have been in the industry for 25 years and above.

Competent industry sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the driving force behind the MD’s decision was to cajole the authority’s Governing Board into approving the so called restructuring, primarily designed to put her in total control of all activities of the authority, a development that has now brought about bureaucracy and attendant delays.

“Now the same Managing Director, who scrapped the zonal structure of the authority without consulting anyone is now talking about creating a headquarter annex, she is also tinkering with the idea of sending some workers to the same zone she has scrapped because the Marina headquarters is full and choked up”.

“Globally, organisations are moving closer to the operational areas of the business not moving everything to the headquarters. Anyone who has a elementary knowledge of port operations in Nigeria knows that very great majority of operational activities of the seaports happen at the zones. It is very evident that this new port structure is promoting bureaucracy because she wants to oversee everything. This is a demonstration of her high level of incompetence, not even having a faint knowledge of port operations”, the source said emphatically.

The source insisted that the consequences of such misguided decisions borne out of crass ignorance will continue to haunt the authority and its major stakeholders, insisting that operational powers should reside at the zones while the headquarters handles the administrative and bureaucratic issues and not the other way round. 

Meanwhile, efforts to the General Manager in charge of Corporate and Strategic Communications, Abdullahi Goje proved abortive, as his mobile phone was unavailable.