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Uneasy calm in NPA as Bala Usman’s removal stirs controversy

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Uneasy calm has settled in the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) following the President’s removal of Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director for no stated reason.

The Guardian gathered that the circumstances surrounding the removal of Usman was not unconnected to the power play exhibited by some top government officials who are interested in some contracts in the NPA. Some believe that she has stepped on toes for cancelling some alleged fraudulent contracts such as the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA), among others.

Meanwhile, Garba Shehu, had in a statement said Usman was suspended following recommendation from the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. Consequently, an administrative panel of inquiry would be set up to investigate the management of NPA under Usman and would start work on Monday.

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However, industry experts have expressed concerns over Usman’s removal without due process, describing it as shocking because she has never received any query and due process as stipulated in a government circular dated May 19, 2020, and endorsed by the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Increase Uche said that Usman’s removal is a setback to campaign for women inclusion in government and in particular the maritime industry. President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero stressed the need for an experienced technocrat to manage NPA.

A terminal operator, who preferred anonymity, said the news of removal of Usman came as a shock to industry, noting that Koko may not be a better saint than the former. He said the president should have followed due process in her removal, adding that she was already making slow but steady growth in the industry. Immediate past Presidents of Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association, Mathew Alalade said Usman might have stepped on toes of some powerful Nigerian politicians and this could be reason for her removal. President of Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Tajudeen Alao has said that there is no cause for alarm, as the suspension of the NPA boss would not have any consequences on their operations.

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