…says ‘I warned now suspended NPA MD but she ignores me

Former board member of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Senator Binta Masi Garba, has alleged that she was unjustly removed from the board of the NPA without the knowledge of the Ministry of Transportation.

According to her, she was not comfortable with the way the NPA was being run under the suspended Managing Director, MD, Hadiza Bala Usman. She said, when she decried the development, she was unjustly removed from the board.

Sen. Masi who represented Adamawa North Senatorial District, between 2015 and 2019, said she had warned the now suspended NPA MD who, according to her, ignored her warnings. The ex board member said, “I noted discrepancies, I raised observations, I asked questions but I was completely ignored and disregarded. Answers were never provided, until my removal was plotted.”

She said although she had made her concerns known to the now suspended MD of NPA, that she was, sadly, rewarded with a removal from the board.

According to her:

“I was appointed into the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) sometime in March 2020. In January 2021, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe and I were unjustly removed from the board at the instance of the now suspended Managing Director (MD) of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman.

Before my removal, I was not comfortable with the way the board and authority were run. I consistently expressed my discomfort and displeasure with the way the MD was running the place and this, I have no iota of doubt in my mind, led to my removal from the board. Note, I was removed without the knowledge of the supervising ministry/Minister of Transportation, which was very uncommon.

My observations and complaints with the suspended NPA MD were more with the financial statements of NPA.

I noted discrepancies, I raised observations, I asked questions but I was completely ignored and disregarded.Answers were never provided, until my removal was plotted.

When the board came in, its first meeting was in June 2020, with the aim of deliberating on the financial report. I made some observations on the report which, obviously, was not welcomed. At the time, the report covered 2 years but I objected, pointing out that, under normal circumstances, procedurally and international norms, it should cover a minimum of 3 years. It was after my objection that the third year’s report was provided.

I wasn’t really comfortable. I observed more discrepancies with the financials and asked questions about them.

 Scrutinising the financial reports of the NPA is a very critical and very important aspect of my role and function as a member of its board, appointed by the President. I was not ready to abdicate that core responsibility. For me, my board membership of NPA, like every other public office I have held, was a call to serve my country and I was prepared to give it my all.

 Some members of the board felt I was the only one holding the financial report back. I had to meet with the  Minister of Transportation and I told him I wasn’t comfortable with the way and manner the board was being handled and treated by the MD and that I wanted to resign.

The board chairman, Chief Akin Ricketts (whose removal as board chairman was also orchestrated) and some other members, prevailed on me not to resign and that, if I did, it would send the wrong signal and would not be good for the President. We settled down to work on it (the financial reports).

After sometime, my uneasiness did not go away. Again, I met with the Minister of Transportation and told him that I did not want to continue with the board with the way it was being run. I met someone high up in the Presidential Villa and told him my own story and advised that the MD be called to order. I also met and made similar observations and complaints to the then Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Dr. Nasiru and the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Mallam Zakari.

The NPA’s Act stipulates that it is the minister who should send names of appointees to the board to the President for approval. For someone to unilaterally go against the Act and the Minister that brought her on board was rather unfortunate.

 I made it very clear to everyone I spoke with about the situation in NPA, stressing that it was not about me but the system, rules and  procedures, as well as the survival of our institutions. I could not keep quiet and watch the NPA being run aground. Unfortunately, I was removed from the board. But, I have now been vindicated.”

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