“The Coalition of Arewa Youths and Women, “a large and vibrant group of young men and women from Northern Nigeria” has called for a thorough and extensive probe into the activities of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, under the management of the suspended Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, in order to unearth what it described as “a large, high scale financial malfeasance” that occurred in the agency during the time of review.
The group also said that for any anti-graft fight to be worthwhile, even in foreign climes, that the head of an agency in question has to give way, hence, the group said the suspension of Ms. Usman by President Muhammadu Buhari is the ideal step towards a fair sanitisation of the agency without interference.
In a statement issued from Kano on Monday, signed by its President, Hassan Abdullahi and its Secretary-General, Salamatu Aliyu, the group said:
“We are compelled to speak on the recent ugly occurrences at the Nigerian Ports Authority. We want to be clear that we are fully in support of the suspension from office of the managing director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman by President Buhari. The issues and allegations that led to her suspension are indeed grave and to act otherwise by leaving Ms. Usman in office would have hampered the inquiry, which would have placed a huge dent on the anti-corruption war of the Buhari administration.
“Information in the public domain and at our private disposal, clearly shows that there is indeed trouble in NPA. The level of alleged suspicious opaque accounting practices, financial discrepancies and mismanagement of the agency’s finances is not only worrisome but also alarming. Allegations backed with documents of alleged perpetration of huge, unconstitutional accounting, alleged fraud, deliberate cooking of the books to mislead the government and drive the NPA’s budgets ever-higher need to be thoroughly investigated.”
The group said that the NPA, under the suspended MD, was accused of “excessive increase in administrative operational expenses, extra-budgetary expenditures on hotel accommodations and under-disclosure of expenditures on hotel expenses, Corporate Social Responsibility Projects, etc” and as such, that it could not “just ignore the allegations that NPA blatantly contravened Government policy on the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility Projects/Programmes and its records relating to CSR fell short of the level of compliance with the Public procurement Act, 2007.” It said, “Procedures were flagrantly violated while huge expenditures running into billions of naira could not be justified.”
“In a statement yesterday, Sen. Binta Masi Garba, a well respected foremost former northern female senator and member of NPA board, corroborated a lot of the stories of the financial mess that the NPA has turned into. Sen. Binta Garba went further to reveal more issues of financial discrepancies in the NPA and how she was removed from the board for asking questions about suspicious and opaque NPA finances. Certainly, all these cannot be swept under the carpet.
“We must express our disappointment with the plots to stop the administrative probe of the NPA, and the ungodly media propaganda against the justified probe is obviously indicative of someone who has a lot to hide. Our women – women from our region – are not known to exhibit this kind of ugly tendencies.
“Finally, we want to urge and warn the ministry of Transport and its minister, Rotimi Amaechi to ensure that a thorough transparent forensic probe is carried out on the NPA’s financial activities. Anything short of this will not serve the interests of Nigeria and will be unacceptable to Nigerians. We have read somewhere in the media that the probe panel may not be focusing on NPA financials. If that is true, it would be like clear daylight robbery of Nigeria by the Ministry of Transport and the Buhari administration. Nigerians want the financial probe of NPA and we insist that any financial malfeasance in the agency must be unearthed,” the group said.