— Committee have no time limit
By Innocent Orok
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has inaugurated an 11-member committee to investigate activities of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). The committee has no time limit.
It would be recalled that on May 6, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the recommendation of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the Management of the NPA from 2016 to 2020.
Amaechi, while inaugurating the committee on Monday in Abuja, charged the members to be diligent and ensure they do a thorough job.
The committee’s terms of preference, he said, includes examining and investigating the administrative policies and strategies adopted by NPA’s Managing Director, Hadiza Usman, and confirm compliance with extant laws and rules from 2016 till date.
”Examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of other contracts of NPA and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court rulings and presidential directives.
“Examine and investigate compliance with communication channels , as obtained in the public service.
“Examine and investigate the procurement of contracts from 2016 to date and come up with suggestions and advice that would strengthen the operations of the NPA and forestall such occurrences in future.
“And any other matter that may be necessary in the course of the assignment,” the minister said.
According to Amaechi, the investigation is part of the mandate of the ministry to oversee activities of its various agencies.
“This is in the discharge of our responsibility as a ministry and I don’t see why anybody is complaining.
“What is wrong in looking at what is happening in NPA? I don’t see what is wrong in that. As the Minister of Transportation for four years, I hardly know what is happening and I want to know now. The president agrees with me that it’s my responsibility as minister to find out what is going on.
“It worries me that people are saying we should not ask questions. Nobody has been indicted. It is just, can we know what is going on in NPA? That’s the question. If everything is right, why do we have to bother at the end of the day?
“When you have completed your assignment, we will be glad to pass on the report to the President, but don’t forget your assignment will include activities of procurement and its processes from 2016 till date.
“And that is why you do not have a time limit. So, it will take you some time. You are not auditing, but to find out the processes. Please be diligent, invite anybody you want to invite, including the minister, if there are infractions you need me to clarify,” he said.
According to Amaechi, NPA is an agency that manages maritime trading activities in Nigeria and should be able to get in a lot of resources for the government to run the country.
He thanked the committee for accepting to serve and also appreciated the Minister of State for Transport, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, for her diligence on the matter.
The minister then reiterated that the public should allow the ministry do its job. “Let us reduce the shouting and allow the committee to do their job.
Then, we will come out with a report, which we will avail to the public after it is being passed to the President,” he said.
Similarly, the minister of state, describing public reactions as surprising, said the investigation was within the purview of the ministry.
“This is why the ministry supervises and part of that role is looking, asking questions and ensuring that things are done in due process.
“For the panel, there is so much noise, so it’s best you block your ears, keep your head down and do what is in the interest of the entire country,” Saraki said.
Responding, the Chairman of the committee, Mr Suleiman Auwalu, Director of Maritime Services of the ministry of Transportation pledged the commitment of other members to diligently carry out the duties assigned to them.
Auwalu said: “I assure you that we are going to work; we are going to be honest and fair in the discharge of this responsibility. At the end of the day, we want to turn up a report that will be true and it will be in the interest of the country. So, we are seeking for God’s guidance for us to do the right thing at the right time.”
Buhari had approved that Hadiza Bala Usman stepped aside as the Managing Director of the NPA for the period of the investigation. While directing Mr Mohammed Koko, the Executive Director Finance and Administration of the NPA to act as the Managing Director of the authority.
Hadiza Usman first tenure of five years was to elapsed in July 2021, but she had already been given a second tenure of five years in January 2021.