..Say’s is an assult on Northern Nigeria
By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Group under the guise of Concerned Northern Forum has described as illegal, the suspension or “step aside” of the Hon. Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman as Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, saying the Suspension does not follow the due process.
The forum, in a press conference on Frday in kaduna titled: lllegal Suspension of the MD”, stated that the suspension was not only an assault on women inclusiveness in governance, but also as an attack on Northern Nigeria.
Addressing journalists, leaders of the Forum, one Mohammed Salihu Danlami as Chairman and one Comrade Abdulsalam Mohammed Kazeem as Spokesperson, stated that the suspension was a well-orchestrated attempt by Mr. Amaechi to embarrassed the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for rewarding Hadiza Bala Usman, for second term as MD of NPA.
According the forum Buhari rewarded Hadiza Bala Usman because of her uncommon character, competency and capacity with which she discharged her duty to Nigeria by renewing her appointment as the head of NPA for another five years.
Earlier, the forum said “ln a clear violation of the principle of fair hearing, the Minister of Transportation Mr. Rotimi Amaechi announced that he had sought and obtained the approval of Mr. President for the suspension of Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman as Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
“This suspension or “step aside” is for an indefinite period of time while an Administrative Panel, constituted by the Minister of Transportation will conduct an inquiry into the activities of the Authority.
“This “step aside” was issued to the MD without her having been served a query of an offence she had done or given an opportunity to defend herself.
“It was unilaterally given without due regard for disciplinary procedure as enshrined in the Public Service Rules which runs against the principle of fair hearing, justice and equity.
“We have noted the grand plan of a witch hunt of the Honorable against Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman in the manner with which he has moved from one purported offence to the other all in desperate attempt to tarnish her image.
“He had initially commenced with a spurious allegation of non-remittance of monies to the coffers of government which met a brick wall as the Managing Director had made the remittances as so required and the Auditor General of the Federation had further made it clear that the Federal Ministry of Transportation had no legal right of conducting an Audit as the Audited Statements of the Nigerian Ports Authority had been done as statutorily required.
“Having failed on that line of offence, Mr Amaechi then moved and developed a far-fetched TOR for his kangaroo panel to conduct all manners of inquiry across administrative procedures, communication channels and procurement”, the forum said.
The forum further said “We have followed every detail of this unfortunate development and wish to unequivocally state that we regard Hadiza Bala Usman’s suspension without following due process as not only an assault on women inclusiveness in governance, but as an attack on North Nigeria.
“And a well-orchestrated attempt by Mr. Amaechi to embarrass the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for rewarding the uncommon character, competence and capacity with which Hadiza Bala Usman discharged her duty to Nigeria by recently renewing her appointed as the head of NPA for another five years.
“At the time Hadiza Bala Usman was first appointed to head the Nigerian Ports Authority in 2016, the agency was a cesspool of corruption and had become incapable of adding value to the Federal Government to the level expected of an entity that is the gateway to the Nigerian economy.
“Hadiza Bala Usman immediately set to reposition the NPA for greater operational efficiency and revenue generation by blocking all avenues of corruption that hitherto undermined the agency. In a bid to achieve this noble objective, she unavoidably stepped on the toes of very powerful political figures with vested interests in the running of the NPA.
“Specifically, she insisted that all revenue generating operation of the NPA must fully comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the Federal Government. This meant that all companies who had been operating with impunity in handling monies belonging to Nigeria were called to order, and that concession agreements skewed against national interest were reviewed.
“In no distant time, her patriotic actions yielded results with the NPA posting unprecedented remittances in billions to the coffers of the government from 2016 to date.
“We at the Concerned Northern Forum felt very proud of the giant strides of Hadiza Bala Usman especially when we read in the news how global bodies such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH) amongst others in recognition of her strides at the NPA appointed her to head strategic aspects of their operations.
“It is in the light of this, that we were rudely shocked at the embarrassing news of Mr. Rotimi Amaechi’s singling out of our shining star and inspirational figure for suspension in his purported investigation of a trumped-up allegation without following due process.
“Whilst we are not opposed to probity in governance, there appears to be a sinister and clandestine motive behind the setting up of Mr. Amaechi’s administrative panel of enquiry when there is a clear procedure to discipline erring Chief Executives of Parastatals as approved by Mr President himself in a circular dated May 2020.
“It is evident that he has set up this kangoroo panel of inquiry to do his bidding. In which world does a complainant become the judge and jury over a case?
“Furthermore, we are curious to ask why only our amazon Hadiza Bala Usman was asked to step aside in an organization whose decision making is carried out by an executive management composed of a Managing Director and three (3) Executive Directors? Could she have single handedly carried out all of the allegations for which she has been suspended? Why then was she singled out for embarrassment and reputational damage? These are questions Mr. Rotimi Amaechi must answer.
“Evidence from our finding which is now in the public domain reveal that Mr. Rotimi Amaechi wants Hadiza Bala Usman out for refusing to carry out actions injurious to Nigeria’s interest and her refusal to hand multi-billion dollar contracts against due process to companies preselected by Mr. Amaechi.
“We have it on good authority that Mr. Rotimi Amaechi had threatened to sue President Muhammadu Buhari for re-appointing Hadiza Bala Usman for another tenure when her reappointment was announced in January 2021.
“And true to his threat in March 2021, Mr. Amaechi had gone ahead to carry out this threat through proxies when one Elder Asu Beks and two others lodged a suit against President Buhari in the Lagos Judicial division of the Federal High Court challenging the renewal of Hajiya Hadiza’s re-appointment.
“From the foregoing, it is our position as a Forum of Concerned Northerners and patriotic Nigerians, that the suspension of Hadiza Bala Usman is a deliberate case of witch hunt, blackmail and bullying because of her refusal to allow Mr Amaechi unfettered access to the purse of the NPA with which he hopes to assemble the financial war chest to fund his desperate bid to contest for the Presidency of Nigeria in 2023.
“We further wish to assure Mr Amaechi that anyone that targets one of our own in such a blatant witch hunt with no regard for due process but setting out only tarnish and destroy their reputation will be met with stiff resistance for any ambition he may have in 2023 elections as far as our massive Northern electorate are concerned.
“Arising from the above, the Concerned Northerners Forum hereby call on Mr. President to retract this kagoroo administrative panel of inquiry as constituted by Mr Amaechi and conduct any such investigation on the Managing Director through the rule of law to uphold the principle of fair hearing, natural justice and equity”, they stated.