By Innocent Orok
Barely two months to the end of her first tenure in office, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman was on Thursday suspended from office . While some sources said she was suspended for insubordination , the presidency said she is to give way for an Administrative Panel of Enquiry to investigate the Management of the NPA under her watch.
According to the presidency, Hadiza Usman is to be replaced by Mr Mohammed Bello- Koko, in acting capacity. Koko was the Executive Director Finance and Administration of the NPA, under Hadiza management.
In a release by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, titled “President Buhari Approves Panel of Enquiry on NPA, Asks Managing Director, Hadiza Usman to Step Aside”. It reads ” President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation under Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Enquiry to investigate the Management 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. Mr Mohammed Koko will act in this position.
” The panel is to be headed by the Director Maritime Services of the Ministry. While the Deputy Director Legal of the same Ministry will serve as Secretary. Other members of the panel will be appointed by the Minister” the statement concludes.
Hadiza Bala Usman was to complete her first tenure of five years as the Managing Director of the NPA in July 2021. It could be recalled that she was already reappointed for her second tenure of another five years in office in January 2021, six clear months before the expiration of her first tenure, an appointment that has sparked up controversies including a legal action on why the rush reappointment when her first tenure is yet to expire.
Her sudden suspension is also speculated to be linked to political power play among contending power brokers in the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) for the 2023 presidency.
Maritime stakeholders are shocked of her suspension despite her closeness to President Mohammadu Buhari and wondered why if her Management is to be probed, how then is only her that is suspended, instead of the whole management team.
Hadiza Bala Usman during her nearly five years tenure in office have involved in series of confrontations based on decisive stance on some key stakeholders in the Port industry. Some which includes the NPA vs INTELS tussle, NPA vs BUA Port Harcourt port tussle and the latest NPA vs BUA Group Sugar Importation suspension saga among other issues with port terminal operators.
She was also alleged to have bypassed the Minister of Transportation in getting her second tenure, while also initiating the sacks of some board members of the agency early this year. Among them was the Chairman of the Board, Chief Abidoye, Senator James Akpan Udoedehe, National Secretary of the APC Caretaker and National Convention Planning Committee who hitherto were board members of the NPA. Abidoye was replaced with Chief Akin Riketts. But was later reversed by the Presidency. Since then, it was believed that there have been love lost between the Minister of Transportation and the NPA, Managing Director.
The new Acting Managing Director, Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko who is believed to be one of Rotimi Amaechi’s candidate into the Management of the NPA was appointed as an Executive Director in 2016 same time Hadiza Usman became the Managing Director. He is one of the longest serving Executive Directors and member of the Executive Management team.
Mohammed Bello-Koko was born on the 25th March 1969 in Koko-Besse Local Government Area of Kebbi State. He attended the Federal Government Collage, Sokoto for his Secondary education in 1986 before proceeding to the University of Sokoto for his first degree in Management Studies (B.Sc) in 1992. Mohammed continued at the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto for his Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) in 1995.
He has close to two decades of experience in the banking industry where he rose to the position of Deputy General Manager and Zonal Head in Zenith Bank. He served as a member of the bank’s management team before he embarked on a leave of absence prior to his appointment as an Executive Director in NPA.
Some NPA employees who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity lauded his appointment describing him as a mature gentleman who is committed to good corporate governance and best practices and expected to move the NPA to the Next level.