The suspension of the Managing Director/CEO of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, by President Muhammadu Buhari, is a flagrant breach of the country’s Public Service Rules, Persecondnews has learnt.
Bala-Usman’s suspension late on Thursday evening as masterminded by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, blatantly violates the Public Service Rules as contained in a circular dated May 19, 2020 from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the Presidency.
Mr Mohammed Koko, the Executive Director in charge of Finace and Administration in the agency, has been directed to take over in acting capacity.
Buhari had in January 2021, reappointed Usman as NPA MD for another five-year term just before the end of her first tenure, a development that jolted Amaechi, the supervising minister.
Signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the circular is entitled, “Approved Disciplinary Procedure Against Chief Executive Officers of Federal Government Parastatal Agencies and Departments.’’
The circular states in part:“Government has observed with concern the arbitrary removal of Chief Executive Officers and its impact on stability and service delivery.
“Accordingly, Mr President has approved the following streamlined procedure for the discipline of Chief Executive Officers of Government Parastatals, Agencies and Departments in accordance with the Public Service Rules (PSR).
“The following procedure shall therefore apply whenever a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is to be subjected to disciplinary action:
· When an act bordering on serious misconduct against a Chief Executive Officer is reported, it shall be the duty of the supervising Minister through the Permanent Secretary to refer the matter to the Governing Board for necessary action in line with the relevant provisions of the Establishment Act and the principles guiding Chapters 3 and 16 of the Public Service Rules.
· The Board shall in line with due process, issue him/her a query requesting an explanation with respect to the specific act(s) complained about;
· The Board shall forward its findings and recommendations to the Minister for further consideration and necessary action.
· The Minister, after due consideration of the submission from the Board, shall on the advice of the Permanent Secretary, forward the Ministry’s position along with the recommendations of the Board and the explanation of the Chief Executive Officer to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) for processing to Mr President, for a decision….
· Upon receipt of the submission from the minister by SGF, the procedure then establishes another layer of the probe, requiring the SGF to “without delay, cause an independent investigation and advise Mr President on the appropriate course of action, including interdiction or suspension in accordance with the principles guiding Sections 030405 and 030406 of the Public Service Rules, pending the outcome of the independent investigation.
· Based on the outcome of the independent investigation, it shall be the responsibility of the SGF to further advise Mr President on the next course of action.
· The SGF shall implement and/or convey the approval and directives of Mr President on every disciplinary action against the Chief Executive Officers in the Public Service.”
In the whole charade, Bala Usman, was neither queried nor responded to any allegation(s) against her or the management before she was suspended President Buhari, Persecondnews also gathered.
According to a statement by the president’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Thursday night, “Mr Buhari has approved the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, to set up an administrative panel of inquiry to investigate Ms Usman’s management of the NPA.
“The President has also approved that the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, step aside while the investigation is carried out. Mr Mohammed Koko will act in that position.”
Contacted for comments, an astonished Usman said she was neither queried not given a suspension letter for any act of misconduct or infraction.
She, however, refused to comment on the current situation at the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Efforts to get the NPA Board Chairman, Mr Jide Adesoye, for clarification as to whether Usman was queried by the board were unsuccessful.
However, industry watchers and newshounds have been keeping tabs on the frosty relationship between Amaechi and Usman in the last one or two years over procurement procedures for a multi-million-dollar contracts at the NPA.
It was learnt that while the minister wanted the contractors handling the projects retained, Usman insisted on a competitive tender process in line with the Public Procurement Act 2004.
Recently, the new media was awash with unverified allegations of low revenue remittances into the country’s Federation Account and asked for an audit of the agency.