MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND ROTIMI AMAECHI GO ON TRIAL FOR HADIZA BALA USMAN’S SINS

 

 

JUST IN: Rotimi Amaechi attacked in Spain

 

Hadiza Bala Usman - Maritime Women 2019

Scene 1- Personae Dramatis

Muhammadu Buhari is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, duly elected since 2015. He is serving the last years of second tenure. This is a known fact to everyone; both in Nigeria and around the world. I must have better reason of starting this discussion with a well-known and well-established fact therefore.

Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is the Minister of Transport, appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, to supervise over the ministry of transport. And like his boss; the President, Amaechi is having his last years of his second tenure in that ministry. There is an established synergy between the former and the latter. This, again, is an established history that needs not to be re-echoed except for some factual journey of interconnectivity.

The Nigerian Ports Authority is a Nigerian Institution established by an Act of the Nigerian Parliament, through Cap 155 of the Laws of the Federation of 1954. The Nigerian Ports Authority came into operation on Friday, April 1, 1955. The operations of the NPA might have started on April Fool’s Day, but there is nothing “fooling around” with its actions except few intrigues on matters that defied natural logics, like the issue we are about to discuss.

Lastly is the personality of Hadiza Bala Usman. This woman of Fulani extraction – from Katsina State and not Kaduna State, as many believed, was appointed as Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority; by President Buhari, on Monday, July 11, 2016, for a tenure of 5 years and she remained in office till Thursday, May 6, 2021, when she was suspended [might as well be gone because they hardly come back once they start-off by going on suspension] form office on the approval of the President.

There is one more thing to be said about this woman before moving to Scene 2, of this Film show of absurdity.

By January 2021, the President of the Nigerian Republic; Muhammadu Buhari, deemed it fit to reappoint Hadiza Bala Usman for another tenure of 5 years, though her first tenure had not expired – the first tenure was actually coming to expiration by June, 2021. The President signed the letter reappointing her and same was delivered to the woman – Hadiza. That letter of reappointment remains with the woman as we write this ugly tales by moonlight.

We have gotten confirmed facts from the grapevine that this process of reappointing her by the President was done without the knowledge, or input, of the Minister of the Transport Ministry – Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. It means the woman got her reappointment letter over and above her Minister. And this gave the Minister; Rotimi Amaechi thorough headache. Who wouldn’t? But wait a moment, who is to blame – the NPA Managing Director or the President?

Why this the manifestation of this typical oddity, you may want to ask? It is only the abnormality of the Nigerian administrative structure; under the present government that can supply the answer to above question.

But suffice to conclude that an approving authority, at any given time, is superior to a recommending authority. In interpretation, Amaechi; who should be the recommending authority, is inferior to Buhari; who is the approving authority, in this matter. Back to the beginning; Hadiza Bala Usman was appointed in 2016, without Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s knowledge, input and recommendation. Just for the records. Let us bear this in mind as we go into the narrative proper.

Scene 2 – Evidences and Signs of Oddities

On Thursday, May 6, 2021, Garba Shehu; that extra-ordinary Senior Presidential Spokesman, told us about the removal of Hadiza Bala Usman from office – albeit through the route of suspension. Below was the announcement from the Senior Spokesman – again for the records.

“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.

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. Other members of the panel will be appointed by the Minister”.

The reason for the suspension must have related to an approval the President granted to the minister, for probing a financial misappropriation at the Nigerian Ports Authority, under the supervision of Hadiza Bala Usman. Below is the reality of flow of events.

In a letter dated 4th March 2021, addressed to President Buhari, Amaechi prayed the Commander-in-Chief to cause an investigation to be carried out to ascertain the financial records of NPA. Titled “Remittance of Operating Surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account by the Nigerian Ports Authority from 2016-Date,” the Minister drew the attention of the President to what he believed counts for a financial misdeed.

The letter read: “It has been observed from the records submitted by the Budget Office of the Federation that the yearly remittance of operating surpluses by the Nigerian Ports Authority from the year 2016 to 2020 has been far short of the amount due for actual remittance.

“In view of the above, I wish to suggest that the financial account of the activities of NPA be investigated for the period 2016-2020 to ascertain the true financial position and the outstanding unremitted balance of one hundred and sixty-five billion, three hundred and twenty million, nine hundred and sixty-two thousand, six hundred and Ninety-seven naira only (N165, 320, 962, 697).”

Two weeks after the Minister’s letter got to the President, the latter gave approval to the former, on Friday, March 17, 2021, with these words: “HMT (Honourable Minister of Transportation), your above prayer is approved.” This was followed by yet another letter, signed by Professor Ibrahim Gambari; Chief of Staff to the President, conveying Buhari’s approval for the investigation of the alleged financial shenanigan.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority was suspended because of her inability in remitting the sum of N165, 320, 962, 697 – accumulatively from 2016 to 2020, to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). Is it?

The money not remitted is huge enough. That the unremitted amount spanned from 2016 [the year the MD was appointed] till 2020, without being detected by the supervising ministry speaks of a larger conspiracy’s circle. And that the Managing Director is being singled out for sanction is contrary to the laid down regulation – albeit the Presidential letter read out by the Presidential Spokesman; Garba Shehu. Let us read the President’s authority together once again.

“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.

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. Other members of the panel will be appointed by the Minister”.

The first thing we should take note of, if we read through the lines diligently, is the fact that the President approved the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.

This raises some questions inevitably: Does the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, to be probed [according to the Presidential announcement], includes other top Management officials of the NPA or is it exclusively limited to the Managing Director alone? Is the Management of the NPA made up of the Managing Director alone? Are other Executive Directors of the NPA; so appointed by the President, members of the Management?

Was the Executive Director of Finance & Administration; Mohammed Koko, picked to act as Managing Director in place of Hadiza Bala Usman, a member of the Management that ought to be probed or not?

The Nigerian Ports Authority under the supervision of Hadiza Bala Usman as Managing Director, came with a Board of Directors; duly appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari. Has such Board any role to play in remittance, or otherwise, of accruable monies to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) Account or not?

Then we should fast-forward the Film-Cast into Monday, May 10, 2021, when the Administrative Panel of Inquiry was inaugurated at the Federal Ministry of Transport, by the Honourable Minister and try to examine succinctly the terms of reference given to the Panel. It might be shocking that out of the 5 terms of reference given to the Panel, there was no mention of unremitted N165, 320, 962, 697. Isn’t this a puzzle?

We shall provide answers to these questions next week Tuesday, by the grace of God, ditto pointing out other oddities, before bringing to the knowledge of the Nigerian Public those facts that made the “sack [or shall I say suspension?] of Hadiza Bala Usman inevitable”. The real reasons why the woman must go would have nothing doing with the said unremitted N165, 320, 962, 697.

Let me place this on record before drawing the curtain. Is corruption issue and mismanagement of public funds there in the Ministry of Transport, all its parastatals, and inclusive of the NPA? The answer would be yes, because there is hardly any area of the Nigerian sub-economy where corruption has not taken liberalism. So, the NPA could not be standing aloof over others in the business of vigorously prosecution of corruption and its associated benefits.

This is one. Yet, there must be another point that must be placed on record before next week’s outing; which shall come with nastier part of the revelations from the land of Oddity.

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evils that men do lives after them; so let it be with Caesar . . . O judgement! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason. Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me”, were the words of Marc Antony.

I have come therefore to bury Hadiza Bala Usman and not to praise her. Like what Marc Antony said, in the above quote, corruption; grand corruption, has made men of Authority to lose their reasons and sanity in Nigeria – and yet, my heart is in that casket where victims are twisted with lies, waiting to be buried.

I said it before and l am repeating it again. I cannot stand tall anywhere to declare that any Nigerian Pubic officer of the present dispensation; including Hadiza Bala Usman, is a Saint, but let the truth be told of why and how the battle of fight for corruption is moving from Purgatory to Hell.

And next week, we shall know why it is Muhammadu Buhari and Rotime Amaechi, as against Hadiza Bala Usman, that are standing trial in the public court of the Nigerian People.

Arise!

This Court adjourns!

 

Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.

Contact:

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You can also listen to this author [Godwin Etakibuebu] every Monday; 9:30 – 11am on Lagos Talk 91.3 FM live, in a weekly review of topical issues, presented by The News Guru [TNG].

 

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