Maritime stakeholders commend Buhari on Hadiza Usman’s suspension…Insist her continued stay risky for industry
Maritime Stakeholders at the weekend threw their full weight behind the Federal Government’s decision directing the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman to step aside, insisting that her tenure remains the darkest period in the country’s maritime history contrary her ‘audio achievements’ being splashed in the media.
The stakeholders had also warned that her continued stay as the chief executive of the NPA would continue to frustrate government’s efforts at enhancing ease of doing business, global rating of the seaports, especially in terms of Corruption Perception Index CPI, given her penchant for power without control.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had last week approved the indefinite suspension of Hadiza Bala Usman over alleged financial infractions in the award of contracts running into several billions of naira and violations of public service rules. She is currently facing a probe panel over failure to remit funds to government and improper expenditures, among several other allegations.
A port user who pleaded anonymity, noted that the prompt disengagement of the former MD was a right step in the right direction and in the best interest of the nation, arguing that the government cannot afford to tolerate such huge financial infractions at a time the government is focusing attention on improved non-oil revenue given the volatility in the global oil prices.
He also insists that civil service procedures globally require that when such a top officer is accused of any infraction-financial or abuse of office, such officer steps aside while the matters are investigated by designated authority so that he or she does not interfere with the process of investigation since his or her office is such a powerful and influential one.
He commended President Buhari for his promptness in addressing the issues as well as the Federal Ministry of Transportation for promptly putting in place a panel to look into the matter.
Another stakeholder, who also preferred not to be mentioned, noted that the former MD in the last four and half years has caused serious frictions among port stakeholders in her quest to be in total control of everything.
He cited instances of the disaffection caused by her insistence to be in control of the Port Single Window project, which has no relation to NPA’s role as a technical regulator, with no cargo to handle or release.
“The port industry is a very sensitive one and is crucial to the nation’s economy. So many things should not be left to chance and this is why government’s promptness in addressing the issue is highly commendable.
“The only place she would have made positive impact would have been in the area of the Electronic Call Up System, codenamed ETO, but everyone has now seen that the entire system was fraught with fraud, as the project, which seems to have been designed to fleece funds from the system was programmed Ab initio to fail because it has helped to increase cost of doing business at the seaports”, he said emphatically.
Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman was appointed as the MD of NPA in 2016. Her suspension announced last week although came as a surprise, but critical port stakeholders appear to welcome the change.