*Can Summon Minister, Usman, Others for Clarifications
*Panel Chairman Asks for God’s Guidance
The 11-member committee set up to investigate activities of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from 2016 till date has no time frame, the Minister of Transportation, Right Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi has said.
This is coming on the heels of the panel chairman, Mr. Suleiman Auwalu asking for God’s guidance in the discharge of the committee’s terms of reference.
Amaechi dropped the hint at the formal inauguration of the committee at Bukar Dipcharima House, the corporate headquarters of the Ministry of Transportation, Abuja.
Apparently aware of the enormous task before the committee, Amaechi maintained that there was no time frame for the delivery of its mandate.
His words: “When you have completed your assignment, we will be glad to pass on the report to the President, but do not forget your assignment will include activities of procurement and its processes from 2016 till date. And that is why you do not have a time limit. So, it will take you some time. You are not auditing, but to find out the processes. Please be diligent. Invite anybody you want to invite, including the minister, if there are infractions you need me to clarify.”
The inauguration of the 11-member committee to investigate activities of the money spinning federal parasatal was sequel to President Muhammadu Buhari earlier approval of the recommendations of Amaechi for the setting up of what he called an “Administrative Panel of Inquiry” to investigate the management of the NPA.
While inaugurating the committee recently, the minister charged the members to be diligent and ensure they do a thorough job just as he enumerated their terms of reference.
They include examining and investigating the administrative policies and strategies adopted by NPA’s Managing Director, Ms. Hadiza Usman and confirm compliance with extant laws and rules from 2016 till date.
Others are: “Examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of other contracts of NPA and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court ruling and presidential directives.
“Examine and investigate compliance with communication channel, as obtained in the public service. Examine and investigate the procurement of contracts from 2016 to date.
“Come up with suggestions and advice that would strengthen the operations of NPA and forestall such occurrences in future as well as any other matter that may be necessary in the course of the assignment”.
According to Amaechi, the investigation is part of the mandate of the ministry to oversee activities of its various parastatals under its supervision.
Continuing, Amaechi who played a prominent role in the election of the president as the Director General of Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2015 and 2019 prior to his appointment as a member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) said: “This is in the discharge of our responsibility as a ministry and I do not see why anybody is complaining. What is wrong in looking at what is happening in NPA? I do not see what is wrong in that. As the Minister of Transportation for four years, I hardly know what is happening and I want to know now.
“The president agrees with me that it’s my responsibility as minister to find out what is going on. It worries me that people are saying we should not ask questions. Nobody has been indicted. It is just. Can we know what is going on in NPA? That’s the question. If everything is right, why do we have to bother at the end of the day?
According to Amaechi, NPA is an agency that manages maritime trading activities in Nigeria and should be able to get in a lot of resources for the government to run the country.
He thanked the committee for accepting to serve and also appreciated the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, for her diligence on the matter.
He maintained that the public should allow the ministry to do its job.
His words: “Let us reduce the shouting and allow the committee to do their job. Then, we will come out with a report, which we will avail to the public after it is being passed to the President.”
While describing public reactions as surprising, Saraki who was in her days in the upper chamber of the National Assembly was the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport argued that the investigation was within the purview of the ministry.
Her words: “This is why the ministry supervises and part of that role is looking, asking questions and ensuring that things are done in due process. For the panel, there is so much noise, so it is best you block your ears, keep your head down and do what is in the interest of the entire country”.
Auwalu who is also the Director of Maritime Services (DMS) in the Ministry of Transportation pledged the commitment of other members to diligently carry out the duties assigned to them.
“I assure you that we are going to work; we are going to be honest and fair in the discharge of this responsibility. At the end of the day, we want to turn up a report that will be true and it will be in the interest of the country. So, we are seeking for God’s guidance for us to do the right thing at the right time.”