Hadiza Bala Usman, former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has fired back at ex-Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi.
Speaking at the annual lecture organised by The Niche, an online publication, Amaechi accused Bala Usman of documenting false narrative in her book titled: “Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority.”
In the book, she chronicled her emergence and struggles while she served as managing director of NPA.
Amaechi said he had been refraining from responding to the claims in her book, stating the lies were just too many.
He claimed that as managing Director of NPA with N2.5m approval limit, she approved a contract of N2.4bn.
But in a statement she personally signed on Saturday, Bala Usman asked Amaechi to “please grow up and stop all these lies”.
She said she took time to respond to the allegations levelled against her in the book, wondering why Amaechi was after her.
“Recent newspaper reports of false claims attributed to the eternally petty ex-Minister of Transportation, His Excellency Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, about me did not come to me as a surprise.
“In his over two decades in public office, Nigerians must be used to the fluidity with which he tells lies, manipulates facts, and talks out of turn. Here is someone who once brazenly told Nigerians that he doesn’t like money, even when his public conduct contradicts this assertion. That must be the most fantastic lie that any public official, living or dead, has ever told Nigerians and so, nothing he says should astonish us.
“Aside from exaggerations, manipulation of the truth and outright lies which he threw at his audience on Thursday, the former Minister said nothing that I did not already reveal in my memoirs: Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority.
“The book has been on sale since April 2023, but has he even read it to understand that I didn’t hide anything from Nigerians about the events surrounding my “stepping aside,” and eventual exit as Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority.”
The presidential aide went down memory lane to explain how she addressed the issues he raised one after the other.
Countering Amaechi, Bala Usman said she did not know the grounds over which she was allegedly indicted.
“Mr Amaechi in his rant alleged that I awarded a contract worth N2.8b. This is false. I don’t know where the former Minister got his N2.8b figure from since this accusation was nowhere in the list of infractions conveyed to me in a query arising from the reports of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry he set up.”
“The only issue relating to a contract award in the query was about the emergency purchase of operational vehicles following the vandalisation of the premises of the Marina, Lagos headquarters of the NPA on October 21, 2020.
“This subject was addressed in Query E with the title: “Unilateral and improper use of the emergency procurement mode to procure vehicles”.
“Here, the management of the NPA was accused of making the emergency purchase of operational vehicles “to the tune of One Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy-Seven Million, Six Hundred and Sixty Nine Thousand, One Hundred and Eighty-Three Naira Ninety Five Kobo(N1,277,669,183.95), without approval from the Federal Executive Council.”
“In my response to the query of the N1.2billion expenditure, I explained that we made the procurement pursuant to the provisions of Sections 43 (1) (a), (2), (3) and (4) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 (PPA) which allows procuring entities to purchase items due to the emergency nature of the need and obtain the necessary approval upon conclusion of the procurement. The response to the query, including the approval obtained and the alleged inflation of the cost of the vehicles, are all detailed between pages 166- 171 of the book.
“The former Minister also spoke about waivers, which the FMOT query addressed in Item F. The query and my response explaining the circumstances and justifications for all the waivers granted by the NPA management, are published on pages 171-175 of the book.
“He twisted the facts about Query C, which alleged the “unilateral execution of a supplemental agreement in respect of Lekki Deep Sea Port Concession Project published on pages 163-165 of the book.
“In my response, I explained as follows: “The Authority was of the view that the supplemental agreement 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 at that time …”
“Mr Amaechi also claimed that I was indicted on some ten counts. I do not know what these ten counts are, because no one communicated any such indictments to me. But can I ask him whether these counts include the alleged non-remittance of the sum of N165bill non-remittance of operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for which he sought and obtained former President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval to investigate the accounts of the NPA and my “stepping aside from office?” Is it not true that this weighty allegation did not appear in the query that I received from the Ministry after the conclusion of the work of the panel?
“Media reports from his lecture said that Mr Amaechi “brandished” the panel report saying that he is keeping it to himself. But I wonder what the secrecy about the report is when the details of the alleged infractions were published as Appendix iii, from pages 157 through 179 of my book. On these pages, I shared the full official query issued to me on the alleged infractions arising from the investigation of the panel of inquiry by the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), and my response. But more importantly, why is he the only one who has had access to this report?”