N2.8bn contract: Bala-Usman replies Amaechi, says ex-minister’s claim false

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A former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, has denied an allegation by a former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, that she awarded a contract worth N2.8bn while in office.

The former minister, at an event in Lagos on Thursday, accussed the former NPA boss of omitting the offences that led to her removal from office in her book titled ” Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority.”

Amaechi alleged that as the managing director of NPA with N2.5m approval limit, Bala-Usman approved a contract of N2.8bn, stating that the lies in the book were too many.

However, Bala- Usman, who is the Special Adviser to the President on Policy Coordination, in a statement she signed and dated October 28 wondered where Amaechi denied the minister’s allegation.

According to her, the accusation was nowhere in the list of infractions conveyed to her in a query from the Panel of Inquiry instituted by Amaechi.

The statement partly read, “Mr Amaechi in his rant alleged that I awarded a contract worth N2.8bn. This is false. I don’t know where the former minister got his N2.8bn 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.”

She noted that the only issue relating to a contract award in the query was about the emergency purchase of operational vehicles following the vandalism of the premises of the Marina, Lagos headquarters of the NPA on October 21, 2020.

The former NPA boss said she responded to the query and explained she never went contrary to the Procurement Act.

She said, ” My response to the query of the N1.2bn expenditure, I explained that we made the procurement under 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.”

On the allegations on the waivers granted to some individuals while at the helms of affairs, she said the query and her response justifying her action were contained in the book.

She addes, “The former minister also spoke about waivers, which the FMOT’s 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.’ ”

The former NPA boss also said she was unaware of the 10 counts Amaechi claimed she was found guilty of by the panel.

She asked if the counts included the non-remittance of N165bn to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
” I do not know what these 10 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 N165bn non-remittance of operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund 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?” she asked.

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