…Fires Amaechi’s man as Chairman, NPA Board
There is palpable rumbling in the political landscape as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman has given her boss and Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Cbibuike Amaechi a smarting frontal slap, following the announcement of her second term reappointment by the presidency.
Usman not only got President Muhammadu Buhari to buy into her own work plan at the authority, contrary to Amaechi’s input, but in addition to effectively shutting the NPA door against Amaechi, by having the Chief Akinwumi Ricketts, the minister’s representative, replaced as NPA Board Chairman with Mr. Emmanuel Olajide Adesoye, from South-West.
Industry pundits’ notes that the development currently portrays the minister as a mere nominal head, and no longer a factor in the affairs of the authority. Although the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina who disclosed Hadiza’s reappointment, gave no reason for the sudden, curious development, observers have posited that the move may not be unconnected with plot to cover up some wrong doings at the authority.
Those whose business it is to know say the appointments pose direct assault on the Nigerian Constitutional, any less an affront on the NPA Act, since the laws of the land do not envisage reappointments when they are not due.
Apart from the wrong and illegal timing, informed sources say the appointments were not based on the recommendation of the transportation minister. Checks revealed that appointments of the managing director and executive directors are made on the recommendation of the minister, in accordance with Section 2 and 10 of the Ports Act.
But hey, if the transportation minister didn’t make the recommendations, who did? We may never get to find out under a government run by everybody and by nobody. However, scoops obtained indicate the former military president, Gen. Abdullsalami Abubakar, may have been instrumental in securing this questionable arrangement, under close door meetings with President Buhari.
A competent top government source told our reporter that Hadiza had ran to the former military president to solicit his assistance, after a number of top influential senior Nigerians including first class emirs tried unsuccessfully to get the president to endorse for her reappointment, which effort was afoot for the most part of last year.
According to our source, the president finally caved in when Abubakar intervened, out of the huge respect he is believed to have for the former comrade in power. What made Abubakar’s intervention more pronounced was the demand for a straight jacket approval not only of Hadiza’s reappointment, but also, of those she desire to work with at the board. The appointments as such enjoyed unprecedented, concurrent endorsement.
“She wrote who she wanted to work with and begged General Abdul Salam Abubakar to talk to the President about it. Out respect for Abdulsalam, the President approved it”, our source revealed.
Those in the Transportation Ministry, who joined in the coup de grace against the minister, may have also created credibility issues over the appointment, because the Ports Act does not recognise appointment of Board members based on geopolitical considerations.
Adeshina in his statement, unwittingly tied the board members appointment to geopolitical zones. The statement reads, ““Also approved is the reconstitution of the Non-Executive Board of the NPA, with Mr. Emmanuel Olajide Adesoye (from South-west zone) as Chairman. Other members of the board are Ekenyem Nwafor-Orizu (South-East zone), Akinwunmi Ricketts (South-South zone), Ghazali Mohammed Mijinyawa (North-East zone), Mustapha Amin Dutse (North-West zone), and Abdulwahab Adesina (North-Central zone).”
Pundits say the zonal card is alien to appointment of board members and therefore, is illegal. The permutation to use the zonal spread to convey acceptability and integrity on the process appears farfetched, and under a true democratic setting, is qualified to be challenged in the law court, said Barrister Abel Iwarah, a legal practitioner.
“I am not a maritime lawyer but under general practice, there appears to have been a case of exception here, from what I have read.
“The Port Act didn’t tie appointment of EDs to where they come from. So the appointment of these EDs on the basis of geopolitical zones as contained in the announcement is curious. It is curious to the extent of prescribed conditions fo making appointment, and so, the question can be asked, is this case legal?
“Constitutional issues are always very clear, if the position of the Ports Act has been breached, it makes the whole process a nullity and challengeable in the court of law”, he said.
He continues: “You know, we are in a very peculiar political system where leaders do as they please because there is so much indifference on the part of Nigerians and our lifestyle. People have stopped to care, we just don’t bother, and so, government have cashed in on our complacency. How can appointment be made without ministerial recommendation? So, everything is now politics, but like I said, any Nigerian willing can challenge these oddities and breaches in court.”
“Yes, I agree with you, they can compromise the judicial system and delay the legal process to allow the appointees serve out their terms. But you know what, society is advancing, a time will come names related to corrupt politicians and office holders will be called to question. I think that we are gradually getting there”, Iwarah said.
While Amaechi now stands naked at NPA, perhaps, what appears more dumbfounding is Hadiza’s strange reappointment which is coming six full months before the expiration of her statutory first term in office, due in June this year. The development brings to climax, rumoured power tussle between her and the minister, over the running of the corporation.
It is believed that Hadiza was introduced to the transportation minister and subsequently recommended for the plum job by the Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasil e-Rufai, when the going between the once budding political brothers, was good.
Hadiza, according to political industry gist has since created a divide between the two friends, who now relate at arm’s length in private, amid the façade of existing camaraderie while in the public. When NPA House went up in flames during the EndSARS protest in October, Governor e-Rufai paid the NPA boss a solidarity visit, while Amaechi failed to show up.
When he appeared on the scene a month after, he tagged along with the Minister of Defence, and when he was asked why he was just visiting, his retort left maritime journalists dazed, renewing rumour about the cold war between the minister and his supposed subordinate.
It is said that Amaechi could not put up with the fact that while Buhari allowed Hadiza direct access over issues of the authority, she flaunted her closeness to the president by taking up critical issues of the organization direct with the president, thereby sidelining the minister. Even though analysts thinks that her conduct is a breach of protocol, she appears to have the president’s ears and backing; while Governor e-Rufai is believed to be providing her cover, and also alleged to be pumping her with overdose political adrenalin from the side, to do as she wish.
In the weeks ahead, Nigerians are most likely going to follow up on what precipitated this curious and far reaching appointments, with Hadiza having up to June 2021 to conclude her tenure in office. Will Amaechi call it quit at this stage? Will Ricketts still keep his appointment despite his ignominious demotion?
Nigerians are upbeat that whatever is responsible for the rush and subterranean moves will come to light sooner than later, giving the proclivity of Nigerian media to dig out the facts.