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Hadiza Bala-Usman’s Suspension Divides Presidency

Newsfocusng gathered that the suspension of the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, is causing ripples in the Presidency.

Recall that Hadiza was asked to step aside on Thursday while an administrative panel examines the books of the organisation.

Although the Presidency which ordered the suspension gave no reason for its action, sources said it has to do with the alleged non-remittance of N165.3 billion surpluses of the NPA into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) by the suspended MD.

Meanwhile, barely 48 hours after the announcement of the suspension, pressure is being piled on President Muhammadu Buhari by some stakeholders for the appointment of a co-chairman or alternate chairman for the probe panel.

Some governors who are pleading Hadiza’s case with the Presidency are said to have accused Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi of violating administrative procedure in getting the MD suspended and in the composition of the probe panel.

The stakeholders are also objecting to the appointment of all members of the panel coming from the Ministry of Transportation.

Following agitation for fairness, Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi was said to have approved a seven-man probe panel yesterday with three members from the ministry and the remaining four to be nominated by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

Besides, supporters of the suspended Managing Director of NPA have rejected the choice of the agency’s Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Mohammed Kolo, as acting MD.

They want Kolo dropped and returned to his desk as Executive Director because he was a nominee of Amaechi.

It was learnt that Kolo was not affected by the shake-up because Procurement Unit has been relocated to the office of the Managing Director.

Reliable sources said the division in the Presidency and government over the suspension of Hadiza stemmed from alleged support Hadiza enjoys from the President’s Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.

It was Gambari who wrote a memo to Buhari for the renewal of the tenure of Hadiza as MD of NPA on January 21.

It was learnt that Gambari acted without any recommendation for renewal from the Transportation Minister or the supervising Minister of State, Senator Gbemisola Saraki.

A source in government however said the Chief of Staff only raised the memo in line with the prerogative of the President to make any appointment.

One source said appointment and reappointment of any public officer can be done directly by the President.

An angry Amaechi however protested to the President alleging that the Chief of Staff was usurping his (Amaechi’s) duties.

In retaliation, Amaechi also took his memo on the unremitted N165.3 billion surpluses and request for the auditing of NPA to the President without routing it through the Chief of Staff.

Although Gambari later conveyed the letter of suspension of Hadiza to Amaechi, a source said “it was a burden he could not resist because it was a presidential directive.”

Despite the cracks, Hadiza was battling for survival last night with clarifications that all audit certified surpluses were remitted into the CRF.

Buhari had suspended Hadiza through a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

The statement said the President also approved the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the management of the NPA.

It said 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.

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