…As NIS President, Truckers Support Buhari’s Decision
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Maritime industry stakeholders have continued to express divergent views about the suspension of Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, even as seafarers have linked her suspension to the poor handling of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract controversy.
Speaking exclusively with DAILY TREND NEWS on Friday, President of Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Capt Tajudeen Alao has said that there is no cause for alarm as the suspension of the NPA boss would not have any consequences on the Authority’s operations.
Capt Alao said Hadiza Bala-Usman was not sacked by President Buhari, but that she was asked to step aside while the administrative board of enquiry is allowed to do its findings.
“Industry opinion is irrelevant on this issue, the supervising ministry has taken a decision, and the decision is not that they fired her, they only asked her to go on suspension, they set up an administrative board of enquiry to investigate and give her fair hearing”
“Everything is in order, assuming she was sacked and another person was appointed, then we can start to worry if it is good for the industry”
“But as far as I am concerned, the management is still there and NPA operations is continuous, so the industry should not panic, everything is okay”
“She has been there for a while now, its not as if she just spent two years and she is removed” Capt Alao stated
Also speaking with our correspondent, immediate past Presidents of Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association, Eng Mathew Alalade said Hadiza Bala-Usman May have stepped on toes of some powerful Nigerian politicians and this could be reason for her removal.
“As a female, she is always feeling cheated, she is the only female among the maritime agency CO’S, she must thank her God for a successful first tenure”
“She has stepped on a lot of toes, I think the Secure Anchorage Contract is one of them too, these people are politicians with powerful backing too, she did not handle the matter properly”
“Her removal would not have any negative effect on maritime operations, let her go and rest, women are adamant all the time, let her go and rest and face the panel set for her. It is the same people that brought her into the system that relieved her”
Capt. Tony Onoharigho, President, Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS), in his reaction, said that there was nothing wrong with someone being suspended in so far as the person committed an offence.
“Unfortunately, for now, nobody knows what Bala-Usman has done but if she has done what requires a suspension, so be it.
“The federal government appointed her as the managing director of NPA and if they feel she is not doing the job well again, then she has to go.
“For me, I do not see anything wrong with the change, except if she did not commit any offence and is being victimised, then we will speak against the federal government’s decision.
“But, if the employer finds her not being worthy to still be in the position, she should take it in good faith,” he said.
Onoharigho noted that as president of the NIS, he would prefer a situation whereby a person does not stay in a position for too long, so that other capable hands could be given a chance to operate in the industry.
Also reacting, Mr Remi Ogungbemi, Chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), said he believed that this was purely an administrative issue within the management of the authority.
“But, I will state that anyone that has the power to hire, also has the power to fire in any establishment,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, late on Thursday, announced the approval of the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation under Rotimi Amaechi, for an administrative panel of inquiry on the NPA management, as well as the suspension the Managing Director.
Similarly, Shehu also announced the appointment of Mohammed Koko as acting Managing Director of the NPA, pending the completion of the investigation by the panel, to be headed by a Director.
The panel is to be headed by the Director, Maritime Services of the Ministry, while the Deputy Director, Legal of the ministry will serve as Secretary.