By Ubon Akpan/BMG
A great fog of boardroom conspiracies, underhand dealings, backstabbing and outright politicking appear to have descended on the hopes of Nigerians to have an apex regulatory agency for the country’s transportation sector up and running more than 10 months since the Assembly passed the National Transport Commission (NTC) Bill in March 2018.
The Beam magazine can authoritatively report that the first real challenge to the bill allegedly came from inter-agency rivalry which saw the leadership of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) allegedly scheming to torpedo it.
This singular move immediately threatened to undermine the cordial personal relationship between Barr Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) which was expected to transmute into the NTC and the Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Hadiza Usman.
Hadiza Usman, our sources said, had until then, been generally seen as an ally of the Shippers’ Council boss, who having spent years in the top management of the maritime parastatals and thus acquired better experiences in the politics of the maritime industry played a great role in stabilizing the younger CEO in her office.
Knowledgeable maritime industry sources however disclosed that the NPA CEO, having stabilized in office and with superior budgetary support succeeded in penetrating first the Federal Ministry of Transportation which supervises both agencies and later the Presidency with direct access to President Mohammadu Buhari, and so used her position to block the presidential assent to the bill.
Indeed, industry watchers are afraid the bill, expected to turn around the fortunes of the industry, may not be signed into law as long as she remains the Managing Director of the NPA and President Buhari remains the President.
They are also strong fears that with the re-election of President Buhari, Ms. Usman may emerge as the next Minister of Transportation while her current Executive Director, (Finance and Administration) who she is presently grooming becomes her successor at NPA.
Apart from the inter-agency bickering and rivalries, the imminent retirement of Barr Hassan Bello from the Nigeria Shippers’ Council is also expected to throw some spanners into the wheels of the NTC Bill.
The Beam magazine can authoritatively confirm that Barr Bello is expected to hit the mandatory 60 years retirement age tomorrow, March 20, 2019.
Employed as Deputy Director, Legal of the Council on March 9, 1998, Barr Hassan Bello has in the 21 years of meritorious service to the organisation risen to the rank of Director before emerging as the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the NSC in 2012.
Independent sources also revealed that originally, the NSC helmsman’s initial tenure was expected to have lapsed since 2016, the tenure having been for four years.
Even though a formal extension was not given to him, then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, on the intervention of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, had verbally authorized him to continue in office until his case was looked into.
The Beam Magazine learnt that the underlying game plan was for the NTC to have come alive with Barr Hassan Bello as its founding CEO with a fresh five-year tenure, a plan that the NPA CEO and ally of Bello was allegedly vehemently opposed to and so worked to scuttle
As it is now, the fear is that the NTC Bill may be quietly swept under the carpet to await a natural death.