Saturday, September 25, 2021

Amaechi Inaugurates NPA Probe Panel

…Head Of Service Nominates Panel Members

The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, flanked by the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki (left) and the permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr Magdalene Ajani at the inauguration of the panel of enquiry into the activities of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA on Monday.

Having obtained President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval to look into the activities of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from 2016 till date, the Minister  of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi today inaugurated a panel of inquiry to carry out the assignment with members drawn from the ministry and the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.

He told members of the panel to be fair and balanced in their investigations while doing a thorough job

He said, although the president’s approval required the minister to nominate the members of the panel, the ministry of transportation decided to involve the Head of Service to avoid being accused of having a vested interest in the matter. 

The minister said members of the committee would not come only from the ministry, but would include nominations from the head of service of the federation.

“What we’ve done for the purpose of transparency is to ask the head of service to make nominations into the panel. So, what we have is 5 of the nominations from the ministry and 6 from the head of service,” he stated.

He added: “This is in discharge of our responsibilities as ministers of transportation in the ministry. I don’t see any reason why anybody is complaining. What is wrong in taking a close look at what’s happening in the NPA? The president agreed with me, that it is my responsibility to find out what is going on. 

“It worries me that people are saying we shouldn’t enquire. Nobody has been indicted. The question is just, ‘can we know what is going on in the NPA?’ If everything is right, then there’s no problem. When the panel completes their assignment, we’ll be glad to pass on the report to the president.”

He urged the committee members to be diligent and take their time in carrying out the investigations. 

“It will take you some time to go through income, expenditure and all that. You are not auditing, so you won’t be interfering with the Auditor- General’s responsibilities. Please be diligent, invite anybody you want to invite. Please invite the minister if there are infractions that involves the minister. I’ve been minister for 6 years now, so if there are any infractions that you see that requires explanation by the minister, I’ll be glad to appear before you and give such explanation, if any,” Amaechi told the committee members.

He appealed to members of the public to “please allow us do our job. We are appointed by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to do our job. We have not found anybody guilty. It is just part of the responsibilities of the ministers of transportation to enquire into any of the agencies if need be. I don’t see what’s special about the NPA that some people are shouting about.” 

The terms of reference of the committee are to examine and investigate the administrative policies and strategies adopted  by the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with extant laws and rules from 2016 till date; examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of pilotage and other contracts of NPA and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court rulings and presidential directives.

The committee is also to examine and investigate compliance with the communication channel as obtained in the public service; examine and investigate compliance with the procurement of contracts from 2016 to date; come up with suggestions and advice that would strengthen the operations of the NPA and forestall and ugly occurrences in future, as well as any matter that may be necessary in the course of the assignment. 

In her comments, the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki noted that the alarming reactions following the suspension and imminent probe of the NPA MD was unnecessary as the action was within the purview of the ministry, having gotten prior approval from the president.

“The reaction is quite surprising because this is part of the purview of the Ministry of Transportation. If anything, the Honourable Minister actually went a step further by seeking and obtaining the presidential approval. This is why the ministry supervises, and part of that supervisory role includes looking, asking questions and ensuring that things are following due process. Like he (the minister) has said, the panel has been given the terms of reference to follow.” 

To members of the panel, she said, “there’s been so much noise, you must first rise above the noise, keep your head down and do the right thing.”

On his part, the chairman of the panel, Mr. Suleiman Auwalu, who is also the director, maritime services of the Ministry of Transportation, assured that the panel would be honest, fair and discharge its duties with utmost care and transparency. 

Other members of the panel include Dr Hussaini Adamu, director, procurement, Mrs. Mercy Ilori, director, transport planning and coordination, Mr. Muhiy-deen Awwal, director, human resources management, Mr. Gabriel Fan, deputy director, legal services.

A statement from the minister’s media office said others from the Office of the Head of Civil Service are Ben Omogo, director, organisation, design and development, Mrs. Blessing Azorbo, director, legal services, Mohammed K. Usman, do, finance and accounting, Mohammed Lawal Garba, do, audit, Mrs. Rose Olaniyi, deputy director, administration, and Dauda Ismail, assistant director, procurement.

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