The shocking suspension, Thursday night, of the erstwhile Managing Director/CEO of the Nigeria Ports Authority, Hadiza Usman, follows the recommendation of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, RovingNaija checks reveal.
The Transport Minister had set up a panel of inquiry on the activities and management of the lucrative parastatal and recommended that Hajia Usman should be eased out of her role at the helm of affairs to forestall her interference with the process in line with standard Civil Service procedure.
Consequently, President Muhammadu Buhari quickly approved the constitution of the panel of inquiry and asked Hadiza Usman to step aside, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
In a terse statement late on Thursday night, titled, BUHARI APPROVES PANEL OF INQUIRY ON NPA, ASK MD, HADIZA USMAN TO STEP ASIDE, Shehu wrote:
“President Muhammadu Buhari has approved recommendation of Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA).
“The President has also approved that the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman steps aside while the investigation is carried out, while Mr. Mohammed Koko will act in that position.
“The panel is to be headed by the Director, Maritime Services of the Ministry and the Deputy Director, Legal of the same ministry will serve as Secretary.
Other members of the panel will be appointed by the Minister,” Mallam Shehu Garda wrote.
However, sources close to the corridors of power are of the opinion that there is more to the Administrative panel of inquiry than meets the eyes. The sources claim the Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi had long fallen out with the suspended NPA MD/CEO who was accused of running the organisation like a personal fiefdom with little recourse to her boss in the supervising Federal Ministry of transport.
“She was not minded to by-passing her supervising Minister to deal directly with the presidency and she never shied away from flaunting her pedigree as a power broker in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC),” a source said.
“As a former aide to the influential and dogged Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-rufai, the former NPA boss had assumed a larger than life profile to the consternation of Mr. Amaechi who belongs to a different power block in the APC,” another source familiar with the power play, confided in RovingNaija.
“Armed with her pedigree as an activist and a co-founder of the Bring Back our Girls (BBoG) campaign (a major sticking point in the eventual ouster of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan from office), the profile of madam Hadiza Usman as a formidable force with the requisite media punching power was enough to keep most of her real and perceived enemies at bay. But not Rotimi Amaechi, a man steeped in the antics of both regional and national high wire politics,” the source summisses.
With oversight function over parastatals and agencies responsible for the employment of circa 30% of the labour force in the country’s Federal Civil Service, Rotimi Amaechi has also gathered enough punching power to take on all comers in the political sphere. This is expected of a man, who at the last count had the following parastatals and agencies under his control: the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Clearing and Forwarding Agency (NCFA), Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA),
Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT).
That’s not all, he also supervises the Federal Airport Authority of Nigerian (FAAN), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigeria Air Space Management Agency (NASMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian College of Aviation and Technology (NCAT), Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NMA) and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) among other responsibilities.
But unease lies the head that wears the crown and Amaechi, a man who cherishes relevance in his local and regional turf more than anything else is believed to hold a personal pain in the heart for his inability to plant and sustain his core loyalists around him and close to the corridors of powers. He is said to be unhappy with the removal of Ibim Semenitari, a seasoned journalist and former aide as the NDDC boss on the one hand and the non-retention of Dakuku Peterside for a second term at NIMASA. It was thus considered only a matter of time for Amaechi to do something with the rising profile of Hadiza in a cash cow such as the NPA under his direct watch.
knowing that two captains cannot man the same ship, Amaechi was said to have tarried with bathed breath waiting for the right time to pounce on her subordinate. It was a long wait; one that tasked the patience of the son of Ekwere as Madam Hadiza jealously protected her turf at the NPA from any internal or external political “aggression” as she went about her task to rid the establishment of all vestiges of sleaze and mismanagement. This she did successfully for five years. Or so she thought.
“But, having scaled through her re-appointment for a second five year tenure by Mr. President in January this year,” a source conversant with the power play said, “Madam Hadiza thought she was home and dry and let down her guards for Amaechi – a wily fox – to pounce. And pounce he did with the administrative panel of inquiry and the rest, as they say, is now history.
But to every coin there are two sides and it is believed that there is another angle to the whole Hadiza Usman’s saga at the NPA than may well have a very tenuous connect with Amaechi and his much vaunted power play.
Last month, on April 22 to be precise, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had announced the appointment of four new General Managers (GM) and eight Assistant General Managers (AGM). According to a statement by its spokesperson, Ibrahim Nasiru, the appointment was to motivate its workforce and build a formidable succession plan in line with the federal character principle.
The statement read:
“The newly appointed General Managers are: Olaseni Alakija, who becomes General Manager, Corporate & Strategic Communications.
“Others are Mrs Patricia Aboh, General Manager Servicom; Mr. Sylvester Nwankwo, General Manager, MD’s Office and (Mrs.) Anthonia Ohagwa, General Manager, ICT.
“The newly appointed Assistant General Managers are Naphtali Pella, Audit (Finance & Investment); Adesina Salau, Land & Estate, Zainab Dantiye (Mrs.), Administration, and Nansel Zhimwan, Corporate & Strategic Communications.
“Other Assistant General Managers include Benjamin Oluyori, Enterprise & Risk Management, Ruth Boyo (Mrs.), Investments, Mr. Mukhtar Isah, Civil, and Felix Adekunle, ICT (Network & Communications).
“With these appointments, the Authority has a total number of 21 GMs and 60 AGMs,” he said.
As innocuous as the statement sounded, some sources in the NPA said the former MD must have played into the hands of her enemies in the APC and the Presidency by breaking away from tradition to announce a senior management comprising of many Southerners – a move considered alien to the spirit of President Muhammadu Buhari if previous appointments into MDAs are anything to go by. This is food for thought…
Regardless of what dissenting opinions may say concerning the suspension of Hadiza, the “Gospel truth” is sure to emerge in the fullness of time; for very little is hiden for too long in Nigeria.
For now, the Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, may have lost a battle in failing to install a candidate of choice (especially one from his constituency, the South-south region as acting MD at the NPA) but he may have won the war of attrition in easing out Hajia Hadiza Usman from his “territory’ as the battle for the political soul of Nigeria in 2023 gathers momentum, a source hinted.
As for the Administrative Panel of Enquiry, there is a suspicion it may just end up as another academic exercise after all.