*Concessionaires commends her guts
The recent barrage of media attacks against the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman has been attributed to her insistence on compliance with the Federal Government’s policies and refusal to accept compromise as the best way to manage the authority and Nigerian ports.
Reacting to the litany of media indicting releases and pieces of ‘malicious misinformation’ flying around on both the social and regular media, lately, the source in NPA said, “ it is because our MD has severally refused to accept their offers as some of her predecessors did from some interested stakeholders in the industry”, adding, “ they are even trying to bribe the National Assembly to give her their usual “ appearance treatment” but we are not worried because the Presidency and the Minister know the truth. Those of them who used to send their Accountants and settlement agents to NPA have stopped sending them because she refused to accept them”.
According to him, “there was a media statement to the effect that the estranged husband of our managing director is on advisory board of a terminal operating company, suggesting a conflict of interest. Can you imagine how mischievous somebody can be! Both of them are divorced and besides, Tanimu Yakubu has resigned from that position. He (Tanimu) never worked for President Mohammadu Buhari or the All Progressives Congress(APC) as they claimed in their statement. He was the Economic Adviser to then President Umaru Yar’Adua”.
Also, angered by a social media report accusing her of distributing $25,000 to some APC chieftains to support the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-rufai to become the Vice-President on assumption that President Mohammodu Buhari would not return to power on account of illness, Ms. Hadiza in a terse defence statement said, “ No false media attacks or threats to life will stand in the way of my doing the right thing.”
Asserting that there was no truth in the statement, she challenged the writer to provide evidence of his claims,saying there was no meeting with any APC chieftain and money given.
Confirming an earlier report by MMS plus that there were plans to unsettle the leadership of NPA, the Managing Director said, “ In the last few days, I have faced a barrage of false malicious lies against my person in the media and I know the sponsors of this. I will not budge on my position on compliance with the Federal Government of Nigeria policies and I will not bow on my stance to rid the NPA of corrupt practices.
“I will not be cowed or intimidated into conforming to corrupt practices of cheating the Federal Government of its revenues. I have been issued with death threats and veiled messages conveying that my life is at risk because of the stance I have taken.” Hadiza noted.
“Finally, we have not received any such notification by the presidency of an investigation into our financial books; and indeed, we are open to any of such investigation as we have nothing to hide,” she added.
Meanwhile, the private terminal operators at the nation’s sea ports have commended the efforts of the Managing Director of NPA at addressing the problems militating against efficient ports operations.
The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), which is the umbrella body of the operators, who are popularly known as concessionaires, said it supports the planned review of the concession agreement and other initiatives of the present NPA management.
“As the MD of NPA has stated several times, the concession agreement is subject to intermittent reviews. This has also been the position of STOAN. The review will address unforeseen developments and challenges encountered in the system. We support it. We also support all the steps she has taken so far. We are on the same page as far as our ports are concerned. The abiding interest, which should as a matter of fact be the interest of every Nigerian, is making Nigerian ports the best in Africa and among the best in the world,” STOAN said in a statement on Wednesday, last week issued by association’s spokesperson, Mr. Bolaji Akinola.
The association also said that it was working with the Hadiza Bala Usman-led NPA management and other relevant agencies of the Federal Government to address certain government policies, which are diverting cargoes away from Nigerian ports.
“We must commend Ms. Hadiza Bala- Usman for taking time to tour and assess the ports upon assumption of office in order to appreciate the issues at hand. We are aware also that she has assessed the state of the port access roads and have promised to ensure that government fixes those roads as soon as possible. This is certainly highly commendable and it shows that the present government is a listening government.
“We are also aware of the meeting between her and the Comptroller-General of Customs to refine and simplify the cargo clearing system at the port. These are genuine efforts that must not pass unappreciated,” STOAN said.
The association appealed to the Federal Government to address the issue of high import duty on imported vehicles and the restriction of 41 items from the official foreign exchange window of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as part of measures to attract cargo to the port.
“The ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders will be more effective with a corresponding slash in the tariff of vehicles. The sure way to check smuggling is to accompany the ban with a slash in Customs duty to bring it to par with what obtains in the ports of Cotonou and other ports in the sub-region,” it said.
STOAN said since the ports were concessioned in 2006, significant progress has been made in ensuring prompt service delivery, quick turnaround time of vessels and improved welfare of dockworkers, among others.
“We assure the Managing Director of NPA and the Federal Government of our full support always in implementing the change agenda and bringing about the dividends of democracy to Nigerians,” the association added.