MD NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman

The Nigerian Ports Authority NPA has foreclosed any possible reversal or negotiation with the management of INTELS Nigeria Limited over the revocation of its 17-year old pilotage contract, terminated a fortnight ago, which it said was illegal alb initio.

This follows moves by INTELS to appeal to the management of the authority to reconsider its earlier stance by accepting to comply with the Treasury Single Account TSA policy of the Federal Government, which it said, was not part of the terms of the contract when it was signed about 17 years ago.

A top management staff of the authority, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the management was not in any way considering reversing its earlier decision to revoke the pilotage contract, saying that there was no such plan.

According to him, the authority provided that window before now for a possible amicable settlement of all the outstanding issues on the contract bothering on indebtedness and mode of payment of monies collected on behalf of the government, which he regretted was undermined by the company by sticking to its hard line posture.

He also regretted that the management of INTELS pushed the authority to the extreme position of seeking the legal and expert advice of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN, who has given the official position of the government on the matter, which NPA just enforced.

He said: “Let me tell you, governments anywhere in the world do not work like that. It took us over 15 months to convince INTELS to key into the TSA policy, which is a cardinal policy of this administration and it refused and the matter has gone beyond the NPA now and there is nothing anyone of us can do”.

“As a management, we will look unserious if we go back to the Attorney General to ask for the reversal of the revocation of the contract, which has been established to have contravened certain sections of the 1999 Constitution. So it is not about INTELS showing remorse or not, it is about doing the right thing henceforth”.

On the way forward, he hinted that the NPA would work with its relevant consultants to develop a framework that would ultimately culminate in re-awarding the contract to prospective bidders.

He also said that NPA would ensure that due process would be followed in re-awarding the contract, which would be subjected to a competitive bid process that would lead to the emergence of the best firm for the job.

“But as a former pilotage contractor under NPA, INTELS is also eminently qualified to participate in the bidding process, which must conform to certain guidelines and principles in line with policies of the government”, he had argued.

On the claims in some quarters that the revocation of the contract would lead to loss of several job opportunities, he allayed such fears, arguing that the pilotage services would be rendered and must therefore be done by human beings not robots whether the contract is given to company A or B.

Recall that the AGF had while directing NPA to revoke the contract, said that the contract agreement violates sections 80(1) and 162(1) and (10) of the constitution, especially in relation to the Single Treasury Account TSA, insisting that both parties did not take into cognisance the provisions of the constitution during the discussions that preceded the actual signing of the contract.

Section 80(1) of the constitution, provides all revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

According to him, section 162(1) states: ‘The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called ‘the Federation Account’ into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the armed forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or department of government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja’.

Similarly, it was also gathered that sub-section 10 of 162 provides that for the purpose of subsection (1) of this section, ‘revenue’ means any income or return accruing to or derived by the Government of the Federation from any source and includes: (a) any receipt, however described, arising from the operation of any law; (b) any return, however described, arising from or in respect of any property held by the Government of the Federation; (c) any return by way of interest on loans and dividends in respect of shares or interest held by the Government of the Federation in any company or statutory body.

The AGF had in a letter dated September 27, 2017 to the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman entitled: ‘Request for Clarification of Conflict Between Executed Agreement and Federal Government Treasury Single Account Policy’, stated that the agreement, which has allowed INTELS to receive revenue on behalf of NPA for 17 years, violates the Nigerian Constitution, especially in view of the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of government.