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How Amaechi caused Hadiza Usman’s replacement over unremitted N165b

THE suspension of the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, by President Muhammadu Buhari was literally placed in motion by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, a written letter has shown.

In the letter titled, “Remittance of Operating Surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account by the Nigerian Ports Authority from 2016-Date,” Amaechi drew the attention of the President to what he believed counts for a financial misdeed.

The minister and former Rivers State governor, whose Ministry supervises NPA, is not happy that the agency has not been prudent in the management of its finances since 2016 when Bala-Usman was appointed to oversee the plum agency.

In the letter dated March 4, 2021, addressed to President Buhari, Amaechi prayed the Commander-in-Chief to cause an investigation to be carried out to ascertain the financial records of NPA.

It read: “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 the 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 NPA be investigated for the period 2016-2020 to ascertain the true financial position and the outstanding unremitted balance of one hundred and sixty-five billion, three hundred and twenty million, nine hundred and sixty-two thousand, six hundred and Ninety-seven naira only (N165, 320, 962, 697).”

On Wednesday, March 17, two weeks after the letter was received, President Buhari minuted on the letter with the words, “HMT (Honourable Minister of Transportation), your above prayer is approved.” This was followed by yet another letter signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, conveying Buhari’s approval for the investigation of the alleged financial shenanigan.

The suspended NPA boss, Hadiza Bala-Usman, has since pleaded her innocence of the allegation, though. She has, however been replaced in active capacity by Mohammed Koko, who until his recent elevation, was the agency’s Executive Director in charge of finance and administration.

According to a source in the ministry, “There are no scores to settle as some reports are suggesting. The Minister is an anti-corruption crusader and given that the administration he serves has anti-corruption as one of the planks of its agenda; it is only apt for him to speak up when things are not going well.

“He has not pronounced anybody guilty. That is the duty of the panel of inquiry. I believe other agencies under the direct supervision of the Ministry will do their book keeping the right way henceforth if they have not been doing that. That is all I can tell you for now,” he said.

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