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NPA : Panel Clears Hadiza Bala Usman of Fraud

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Hadiza Bala Usman, the former managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has been cleared of allegations of failing to remit N165 billion operating surplus to the coffers of the federal government, according to a report by TheCable.

However, the 11-member committee set up by the ministry of transportation to probe the alleged fraud decided to shift its attention to allegations of insubordination to Rotimi Amaechi, the minister.

She was accused of ignoring ministerial directives and communicating directly with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Usman was originally suspended in May 2021 by the minister over an allegedly missing N165 billion but the committee did not find any evidence in its account reconciliation.

TheCable understands that when Amaechi presented the report to Buhari and asked for permission to remove Usman based on to “insubordination”, the president refused to give approval but instead directed the minister to issue a query to the former NPA MD.

Amaechi, presidency sources told TheCable, said Usman had already defended herself before the committee, but Buhari insisted that she be allowed to respond to the report before any further action is taken.

“A visibly disappointed Amaechi then directed Magdalene Ajani, the permanent secretary, to issue the query,” the source said, adding that Buhari refused to be presented with a “fait accompli”.

Conspicuously missing in the 10 items of query is the original reason for her suspension — the allegation that N165 billion was not remitted to the treasure single account (TSA) which made the headlines.

QUERY AND REPLY

An official of the ministry of transportation, who spoke to TheCable but pleaded to be “shielded” for fear of victimisation, said Usman responded to the query within one week as stipulated.

“She said that she did not have access to some important documents because she was on suspension but I would say she did justice to the query,” the official said.

Mohammed Bello-Koko, who acted as NPA MD during her suspension, was a bank’s accounts officer to the Rivers states government when Amaechi was governor.

Bello-Koko was on Tuesday officially appointed the MD.

In the query dated January 26, 2022, Ajani said the committee accused Usman of the following acts of insubordination.

  • Disregard for ministerial directive in respect of the Bonny/Port Harcourt and Lagos port channel management contract
  • Unlawful procurement of the operation of truck transit park for port bound trucks (e-callup) with the non-payment into TSA
  • Unilateral execution of a supplemental agreement in respect of the Lekki Deep Seaport concession project
  • Breach of the channels of the communication in the public service
  • Unilateral and improper use of the emergency procurement mode to procure vehicles
  • Waiver, rebates and tariffs granted by NPA without requisite approval
  • disobedience of court order in respect of pilotage contract between NPA and Intels
  • Disregard of court order in the matter between NPA and BUA ports and terminal limited in respect of the concession of Terminal B Rivers ports complex.
  • Breach of presidential/ministerial directive in the matter of the LADOL/Samsung dispute
  • Lease of Koko Port to Messers Creek Shore Jetty and Terminal Ltd

In her response, she denied all the allegations.

On the renewal of the Bonny/Port Harcourt and Lagos port channel management contract for which she was said to have disregarded ministerial directive, she said she conveyed the directive to the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) which it clarified that it was an extension of an existing contract and such extensions do not require the attention of either the ministerial tenders board or the federal executive council.

Usman said, with regards to the operations of the e-callup system, that “it is practically impossible to have the e-Wallet account domiciled with the TSA as the amount standing to the credit of the transporters’ wallets still belong to the customers. In addition, the owners of the satellite parks and pre-gates used for gating trucks before their callup into the ports need to be paid weekly from the wallet account based on how many bookings were made for their parks”.

She denied unilaterally executing a supplemental agreement in respect of the Lekki Deep Seaport concession project, stating that it was operational in nature and does not alter any major aspect of the concession agreement “as it only rescheduled construction timeframe for a berth and allowed other players to partake in the development of dry bulk since the company was constrained to embark on the construction”.

The former NPA MD said presidency communicated directly with her seeking information and clarifications on the activities of the authority and she responded and she was not at any informed that her responses should have gone through the ministry since presidency did not communicate with her through the ministry.

Usman denied “unilateral and improper use of the emergency procurement” to procure vehicles to replace the ones burnt by the End SARS rioters, quoting public procurement laws to back her decision and pointing out that NPA got a provisional “no objection” certificate for the purchases.

She insisted that she did not disobey court orders on Intels and BUA, and that no presidential or ministerial directive was breached in the LADOL/Samsung dispute.

On the lease of Koko Port to Messrs Creek Shore Jetty and Terminal Ltd, she said she acted the legal limits of NPA as provided by the enabling laws.

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Economy

EDUN HARPS ON SYNERGY TO DRIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH, ATTRACT INVESTMENTS

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The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun on Tuesday charged Heads of Agencies and Parastatals under his Ministry to work together towards ensuring the full implementation of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s 8-Point Agenda, aimed at boosting economic growth and development so as to attract foreign investors and expertise into the country.

Speaking during a quarterly performance review briefing with Heads of Agencies and Parastatals in Abuja, the Minister emphasized the importance of synergy and effective implementation to achieve the goals outlined in the President’s blueprint.

“This is a very important gathering to benchmark where we are and pinpoint where we need to get to and how we intend to get there”

He highlighted the progress made so far under the present Administration and encouraged the Agencies and Parastatals within his jurisdiction to continue working together so as to drive economic growth and prosperity for all Nigerians.

According to him, the meeting would also serve as a benchmark towards the implementation of the performance bond signed by Mr. President, which is aimed at reviewing the achievements made in the last one year, address challenges and chart a way forward for improved performance of the Ministry.

“We have all signed performance bonds. We all know the plan and blueprint, which are the eight point agenda of Mr. President. It has been categorised as a house. The pillars are the fundamentals that you need for the Economy and society to thrive that is, security, rule of law, and at the very top is the roof, that is, the outcomes: food security and other measures of a good standard.

Finance Minister, Wale Edun with the Ministry’s Permanent Secretaries and participants at the interactive meeting

“Our collective efforts and shared commitment is not only pivotal in ensuring the efficient and effective management of the nation’s economy, but should also go a long way in facilitating the realization of the agenda of Mr. President”, he said

Edun stated that the call to action became necessity with the need to galvanize the agencies to work collaboratively and efficiently towards achieving the objectives of the 8-point agenda.

The Minister explained that by working together, the Agencies can help create a conducive environment for economic growth, attract investors, and make opportunities available for Nigerians to thrive.

He further informed them that the Tinubu Administration has helped stabilize the exchange rate and is working towards lower interest rates that would attract additional investments to the nation.

 

“It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to pursue the achievements of our deliverables with diligence and determination by establishing clear targets, timelines, and consequences for non- compliance with our respective Agencies/Parastatals. We can help to create a framework that incenticizes excellence and service delivery as well as build the needed synergy and partnership that can facilitate the implementation of the transformative economic policies of this administration”, Edun said

The Minister expressed optimism that with the calibre of persons heading the Agencies under his stewardship, the Ministry is sure to deliver on its mandate in compliance with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration.

 

Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Lydia Shehu Jafiya, stated that the engagement would provide a unique platform for robust discussions, especially in the area of implementation of the transformative policies of the present administration, which she said, aims at improving the nation’s economy, promoting job creation, and poverty reduction as well as a safety environment that will attract investments into the country.

She assured that the Ministry will continue to provide an enabling environment for the full implementation of the policies, programmes and projects of the Federal Government, in line with its mandate.

Also speaking, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Mr. Okokon Ekenam Udo advised the Agencies to collectively align their efforts with the fiscal goals set by the Federal Government with a view to ensuring the realization of its policy objective.

He therefore called on them to bring in their wealth of experience to bear in making sure that the Agencies deliver on their respective mandates in accordance with the policy thrust of the present administration.

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Economy

FG Received N318.5bn Revenue in Q1 – Accountant General

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The Federal Government got a total revenue inflow of N318.5bn in the first quarter of 2024, the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein, disclosed on Wednesday in Abuja.

Madein stated this while briefing members of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, on the revenue performance of the various agencies of government in the first quarter of 2024.

Represented by the Director, Revenue and Investment in the Office of the Accountant General, Felix Ogundaro, AGF noted that the 2024 fiscal year would be exceptional in terms of revenue generation, owing to the policies of the President Bola Tinubu-led government.

She said, “Reconciliation is still being done but the total revenue inflows to the Federal Government for January to March amounts to N318.5bn as against a total budget of 2.691 tn.

“For the budget, the bottom-up cash planning policy is on course and the 2024 budget is going to be implemented via that policy. Officers have been retained and sensitization is ongoing to ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies are well equipped on the modalities and conditionalities.”

Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Finance Incorporated, Armstrong Takang, who also briefed the lawmakers, disclosed that some agencies under MOFI had declared dividends of N101bn.

Takang said “So far, we have received dividends declared by some companies. But for many others, their reports are either being prepared and have not been completed or have been completed but they have not gone to their boards for approval and subsequently the Annual General Meeting. As such, we cannot use the number of their dividends until that has been done based on the corporate governance rules.

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Economy

FINANCE MINISTER VISITS PTAD, STRESSES NEED FOR DIGITISATION, ENHANCED PENSION MANAGEMENT

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By Sule Musa

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mr Wale Edun on Wednesday  visited the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) Headquarters in  Abuja during which he reaffirmed the Federal Government’s unwavering dedication to improving pension management and enhancing the welfare of pensioners.

Edun who was received by PTAD’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme, and the management team,  engaged in discussions focused on the vital backend computation projects aimed at improving the efficiency and transparency of pension administration.

The Minister commended PTAD staff for their dedication in pension administration, recognizing their indispensable role and reiterated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s unwavering commitment to pensioners’ welfare even amid essential economic reforms.

He assured of ongoing Ministry of Finance support for the recent pension increment, aligning with the provisions of section 173:3 of the 1999 constitution which,  according to him, marks a historic initiative in Nigerian pension management with deliberate and timely increments as well as commitment to the timely payment of pension arrears and entitlements.

A statement by the Ministry’s Director of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Manga quotes the Minister as saying that visit underscores the Ministry’s strategy to enhance fiscal management and promote socioeconomic stability through improved governance of public funds and the adoption of digitisation.

“This visit highlights our resolve to ensure that the systems managing our pension funds are not only robust and efficient but also aligned with our broader economic goals of transparency and accountability,” he added.

The Executive Secretary of the organisation,  on behalf of the management and staff,  expressed appreciation for the visit, reaffirming their commitment to maintaining high service standards for pensioners and aligning with the government’s emphasis on enhancing public financial management.

According to the statement, the Minister’s  engagement is integral to the Ministry’s continuous drive to bolster economic resilience and enhance the contribution of all governance sectors to Nigeria’s growth and development.

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