The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is the second largest revenue earning agency of government after the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Its financial strength and impact on the national growth performance index can therefore not be overemphasized.
Given the above background, the criticality of the burning of the NPA Headquarters also commonly refer to as NPA House requires diligent official investigation to ensure that the facts and truth is what is given to the public; and to also ensure that nothing is been buried.
Every well meaning Nigerian is saddened and pained by the burning of the NPA House? However, much appears to hang under the cloud, as officials and society feverishly hug the hoodlums theory, while evading the critical question of basic forensic, even as the nation’s security agencies and the police appears caught in this strange reluctance to carry out basic security audit, as a necessary backup opinion.
It sounds too simplistic for Nigeria to hurriedly conclude that hoodlums burnt the NPA House, the government owes it a duty to disabuse the minds of the masses by carrying out basic security findings, since there is logically nothing that should ordinarily attract hoodlums to NPA House, while walking away from other government and corporate edifices that line the location.
The question of who burnt the place will remain at best unanswered until all probable investigation and analysis have been exhausted. Society should be clear about the hoodlums being bandied around. Is it miscreants amongts the EndSARS protesters, who hijacked the aforementioned protest that burnt the building? Hoodlums by its very definition are usually attracted by something, what was their aim in razing NPA House?
Is it impossible that the burning could also be an insider’s job, conveniently done to blame it on the protest, taking advantage of the spinoff of the protest by degenerates? Who actually burnt the place? For whatever reasons, Nigerians have been hoodwinked into believing that hoodlums burnt the NPA House, hoodlums who by the account of the NPA Managing Director, Ms. Hadiza Usman, came from the outer Broad Street wing brandishing daggers, sticks and cutlasses.
The speed with which the hoodlums’ theory is being accepted as an inviolable fact by the federal government is not only confounding but suspicious. There has been a display of unwarranted emotionalism capable of not only obstructing clarity of the calamity but also of jeopardizing necessary possible investigation. German War Propaganda Secretary Guobbles was quoted as saying that “lies consistently told will sooner wear the garb of truth.”
Is it too much a headache for the federal government to probe the NPA arson? If Nigeria must not be governed based on rumour, it behooves government to do the needful and unveil the doer or doers; hoodlums or whoever may have been involved. Since hoodlums are not spirit, government should pick them out, or is NPA saying it has no CCTV in its corporate office? The hoodlums have faces or were they hooded?
How can the Government of Nigeria simply settle for the theory of the anonymous in the destruction of a critical national corporation like the NPA House is such a mathematical conclusion and speed, incidentally bereft of the basic scientific rationalization?
Who are these hoodlums? How many of them have been arrested by the police authority with clear and inviolable evidence of commission? How many of them have been prosecuted and sent to jail, from which premise society got the utmost assurance that the arson was the handiwork of hoodlums?
It is amassing that people are not bothered. Take the whole show of government solidarity with the leadership and management of NPA, including other segments of society and sympathetic Nigerians and well meaning institutions in the race to write off the arson. It sounds too smooth, too hasty and conclusive for comfort.
Among the early callers on the solidarity radar and visits is the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Seaport Terminal Owners Association of Nigeria (STOAN), National Assembly (NASS), Governor Nazil El-Rufai of Kaduna State and the CEOs of transport agencies and maritime organizations, including the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Maritime Academy of Nigeria MAN), and their leprous relation, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
Whereas the Nigerian media has also joined the bandwagon with conclusive general headline slants that zeroed the attack on hoodlums, National Assembly (NASS) undertook to garnish unsubstantiated belief with voodoo like spices that confers on the hoodlums’ theory the aroma of inviolability and official respectability, even before any formal security report have been made to the federal government.
It would seem that the plot to obviate the facts and uphold a smokescreen has almost succeeded with the hoodlums’ theory, which does not convey the right moral impression about how we conduct government business; where apparent facts are intentionally or unintentionally killed by uncontrolled emotions and damaging acts on security evidences.
Take the case of NASS which has pledged its support to the management of NPA, supposedly in its efforts to rebuild the headquarters, without first having regard to a security report that must clear all doubts as to who actually torched the NPA corporate headquarters during the EndSARS protest.
Is it not appalling that a society should act based on rumours in matters of critical national importance? They even went to the ludicrous extent of preemptive legislative concurrence on budgetary approval adjustments for the NPA. The Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committees on Ports and Harbour assured the NPA boss and her management after a tour of the facility of their cooperation to undertake budgetary amendments to accommodate cost of the repairs and replacements. Should the larger society be surprised, after all our legislators have been nothing more than undertakers.
Like all undertakers the world over, they fly with alibi, this time around, rebuilding the economy is the defence, the alibi to questionable undertaking. House Chairman on Ports and Habours, Hon Garba Datti Muhammad and Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Tolulope Odebiyi said the NASS would consider the requests in the interest of the economy.
According to Mohammed “We are here to commiserate with the Nigerian Ports Authority and as lawmakers, see the extent of damage done by persons who hijacked a peaceful protest to destroy government properties.
“We have advised the NPA management to adjust its 2020 budget and include cost for the repairs which we shall consider” he said.
If above emotions and possible acts of unintentional damages to facts of arson is conclusively swept under the carpet, we can expect to have more of this dilemma and unwarranted destructive societal permissiveness in the future.
If the police have as yet arraigned a suspected hoodlum convincingly linked to the burning in court, the question of who torched NPA House should subsist, and the operators and administrators of NPA House must be regarded as major suspects.
The propagation of the hoodlums’ theory must be built on unshakable logical and factual foundation, or rejected by society as an act of confusion and betrayal; and this can reasonably be led by the media. The question an investigative journalists or security operatives must ask therefore, is, what was at stake, what does the arsonist or his sponsor; or the so-called hoodlums stand to gain?
If the ordinary street degenerate cum hoodlum does not have any material gain to achieve from the burning of the building, it is reasonable and patriotic to sit Hadiza Usman on the investigation table. She and her management staff have stakes in NPA, with huge exposure to top flight corruption.
What does a hoodlum gain from burning NPA House and what will insiders gain from same acts of arson? The answers are simple and clear, destruction of material evidences to acts of corruption and stealing. The hoodlums are not staff of NPA, Hadiza and her management staff are. The rules of the game in matters like this are clear and should not be obviated. The hoodlums’ theory is a criminal propaganda that society should reject and discard.
The NPA boss in her press statements spoke about acts of vandalism, and gave some graphic pictures of things vandalized by the so-called hoodlums. They include computers, even although she added that their critical equipments were not removed.
Discreet facts checks by our reporter revealed that majority of the UPS and computer storage accessories in the building have all disappeared. These are the components of the computer system that embodies the authority’s financial transactions. So if the hard and soft copy evidences of major transactions were stolen in the process, perhaps, it would help society adjust its thinking about the burning as a possible act of arson intended to destroy evidences of corruption.
How does the hoodlums’ theory connect? Are hoodlums the drivers and mangers of contracts and transactions in NPA? The link is immaterial because NPA is not relevant in the daily struggle of the ordinary protesters. The ordinary street man or hoodlums have direct bearing with the Eko Electricity Company, which gigantic building shares a common fence with NPA House.
It is a historical fact that National Electricity and Power Authority (NEPA) from which Eko Electric and others emerged, have unbroken war of public protests and attacks. Why would hoodlums leave NEPA House where they have material claims and settle for NPA House, where they have nothing in common?
Further findings by Pinnacle Time indicate that the arson may have been targeted at the Accounts and Audit Department located on the first and second floor of the building, whereas it was the annex wing of the building that was torched, in what informed sources described as sheer bad luck to the arsonists and their sponsor(s); and good luck for Nigerians, for missing the target, as it were.
Like in every other critical state corporation, the accounts and audit is usually target of arson, sponsored or personally carried out by an interested party. Pinnacle Time can also report that critical documents were carted away from the Training Department domiciled in the affected annex wing, contrary to Hadiza’s assertion that no sensitive documents are missing.
The Training Department also form a major bridge in the corruption enterprise of the authority, which informed sources say is used to siphoned money out of the system. The other departments wholly razed are the Protocol and Performance Management, which is believed to harbour no evidential value to acts of corruption.
Last Sunday, the NPA boss overruled the Board Chairman, Chief George Rickets, who earlier bemoaned the extent of damage done, noting that the destruction will affect NPA’s operations.
NigeriaMaritime360, an industry news medium, reported that Rickets said the attacks on the authority’s facilities will affect its operations as well as affect ports economic activities.
According to the news outfit, Rickets said, “While the youths have the rights to protest, it has become obvious that the peaceful protest was hijacked by criminal elements. The destruction of a critical facility such as the NPA building will affect the nation’s economy.”
Hadiza however countered almost a week later, saying its operations are not in any way hampered by the incident. “The situation has not affected operations of the authority in any way as we have continued to render our services unhindered” she said.
Her response was coming close to two weeks after the office was burnt by suspected arsonists. She however agreed with Rickets that hoodlums were responsible for the burning. In a written statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Engr. Adams Jatto, Hadiza said:
“The attackers at the headquarters numbering over 300 persons, gained access into the premises at 8:42am on Wednesday October 21st 2020 from the outer Broad Street wing brandishing daggers, sticks and cutlasses.”
The statement further said the hoodlums “proceeded to burn and vandalise several vehicles belonging to the authority and some members of staff”, after which a wing of the office building was reportedly set on fire.
“After an assessment of the extent of damage, it was discovered that apart from the annex wing that was burnt, many offices were vandalised, while computers, printers, water dispensers and other electronic devices were looted.”
It is not clear whether the police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other security agencies are willing to investigate the burning of the building despite apparent effort to sweep the matter under the carpet with the hoodlums’ theory seeming conspiracy.
Hadiza Usman will serve out her first term in office in June 2021. Pinnacle Time gathered on good authority that despite concerted efforts to push her reappointment, the presidency does not appear keen at reappointing her, a reality she was quoted to have taken in calm stride, while hoping for the best.
Did she expend funds from the system to push her reappointment efforts? There are no available hard evidences to suggest she did. But there are indications she spent heavily, and there is also suspicion she may have tampered with contracts and other statutory obligations to raise money to pursue her reappointment, and to also prepare the grounds for future elective political office; in the event her reappointment as MD NPA fails to materialize.
However, a source informed that she went to all length to pursue her appointment, an undertaking our source says involves heavy spending and lobby at top levels of society. Our source accused Hadiza led management as the worst culprit in the history of management stealing, even as the source alleged that she presided over management stealing via contracts manipulations since they didn’t know how to steal through the system.
The source explained that this alleged stealing by contracts leaves a lot of paper trail, and which may have led to the burning of NPA House in order to destroy material evidences.