By DAPO OLAWUNI
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 Inquiry to investigate the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
In a statement by the President ‘s media aid, Mallam Garba Sheffield, the President has also approved that the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman step aside while the investigation is carried out. Mr Mohammed Koko will act in that 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.
Our correspondent gathered that the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi has not been comfortable with the conduct of Hadiza Bala Usman in running affairs of NPA, allegedly in total disregard for the minister’s authority.
Recall that Hadiza was recommended for the NPA job by Kaduna State Governor, Mallam El-rufai, against Amaechi’s Muhammed Koko who has now finally been installed as acting NPA MD.
The embattled NPA boss was reported to have been involved in removal of the NPA Board Chairman, Chief Akin Ricketts, while ensuring that her own preferred candidate, Chief Emmanuel Adesoye was reinstated.
Recall that NPA under NPA was alleged to have illegally awarded N717 billion in juicy contracts to handpicked contractors without recourse to Nigeria’s public procurement laws.
Under Nigerian Public Procurement Law (PPA), contracts of such magnitude should go through open competitive bidding.
It was however alleged that the processes of choosing the joint venture partners in NPA contracts are never thrown open, and so also are the procedures for awarding contracts to them.
Concerned cargo bidders had also alleged that the management of the authority abandoned due process in selecting successful bidders for contracts.
Some of the bidders raised the alarm over alleged attempts by the management to manipulate the contracts.
“The so-called bidding process of NPA cargo business is a sham and is now in the open. Due process has been completely neglected.
Experience no longer counts. One of the companies that will be given the job is the one owned by one of the former executive directors, Marine and Operations, who pleaded and cried before the new MD of NPA. So the company is to be given a job in Onne, to monitor petrol and a company also said to belong to one of the current general managers will be given general cargo contract in Warri,” one of the bidders said
He added: “Other companies the management handpicked are those brought by the managing director who presented the companies as those from her former boss and they are to be given the choicest of the job though without experience or qualified personnel, and not in compliance with the Procurement Act.