New information available to SaharaReporters shows how the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman, lied to her superiors and sabotaged the plan by the Nigerian government to decongest Lagos ports by dredging the Calabar Port.
SaharaReporters learnt that Usman lied to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Senate about the recommendations of a committee she had set up to investigate the dredging project at the Calabar Port.
Her lies have cost Nigeria lives, billions of naira and jobs as Nigeria continues to rely on Lagos ports with its attendant congestion and other problems, it was also gathered.
For instance, widespread congestion at the Lagos ports costs Nigeria $55 million (about N20.8 billion) daily, according to a 2020 report by Dynanmar, a Dutch consultancy firm.
According to sources in the industry, Usman consistently lied to Osinbajo, Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on the Apapa gridlock, tasked with the job of decongesting the Lagos ports, that dredging the Calabar Port was not viable.
The project is under Calabar Channel Management, a joint venture operation between a consortium led by Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited and the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Following allegations that money was paid for dredging at Calabar Port with nothing to show for it, Usman set up a committee to investigate three allegations: One, that Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited did not follow due process in carrying out the job; two, that dredging Calabar Ports is not viable and must not be done; and three, that work was not done on the site by the company.
The report of the committee along with other documents sighted by SaharaReporters indeed prove that work had commenced at Calabar Port and that it was viable, but Usman ignored the report of the committee and insisted that the job must be stopped.
Sources privy to the issue said Usman took the position because he wanted the job for her cronies and not a neutral company.
One of the sources privy to the committee’s report said, “She (Hadiza Bala-Usman) has been hiding the truth. The job was suspended after President Muhammadu Buhari came in. There were allegations that money was paid and that the job was not done. Then she set up a committee.
“The vice president has been in charge of how they can reduce traffic in Lagos so he put pressure on her and she said she would set up a committee to make recommendations. She was in London, UK when the report came out but said nobody should sign the report.
“Later, she granted interviews to newspapers, saying the committee indicted the company (Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited), which was totally a lie. Her lies have cost the country so much money because dredging the Calabar Port would have decongested Lagos ports. It would have made more money for the government and created many jobs.
“The committee members; we said we had to sign it. Later she said we should sign. But when Osinbajo and the Senate asked about it, she said the job should not continue, contrary to what is in the report. She told the Vice President that dredging should not be done because it was not viable.”
“We confirmed the first (that Niger Global followed due process) and we hired a consultant from Switzerland to find out if work had been done and they showed work had been done. Nigerian Navy also wrote that they provided security for the dredger at the time it was working.
“The Swiss company is called Coastal And Reclamation Engineering Services, popularly referred to as CARES. This company is being appointed by the NPA to regularly audit the three channel management namely; Lagos Channel Management (LCM), Bonny Channel Management (BCM) and Calabar Channel Management (CCM). Payments of work done can only be made to contractors after CARES audited the job and confirmed that work was done.
“The company also confirmed that work had started there but she hid the truth and refused to share the content of the report with the Ministry of Transportation. And not dredging the Calabar Port is costing Nigeria a lot in terms of money and jobs for the teeming population.
“Usman mischievously questioned the work of its one hired Auditors (CARES) on Calabar channel management but at the same time accepted and made payments to LCM and BCM on the advice of the same auditor. She wanted to give the job to her cronies and consistently lied to the Vice President, AGF and the Senate.
“Nobody except the members knows the content of the committee’s report, not the Vice President or even the Ministry of Transportation or the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. She is interested in taking the job and giving it to her cronies,” another source said.
SaharaReporters sighted the report of the committee set up to review the activities of Calabar Channel Management Limited done in November 2016.
The committee members are listed as: Prof Idris Abubakar, Executive Director, E&TS; Engr. Peter Obinomen, General Manager, Capital Projects; Engr. A. R. Mohammed, General Manager, PP&D; Engr. A. A. Jatto, General Manager, Engineering Maintenance; A. A. Ningi, General Manager, Audit; Nana Yakubu, Assistant General Manager, Legal; Surveyor O. Omotoso, Assistant General Manager, Hydro; Engr M. U. Isa, Principal Manager, BD&JV.
The committee’s terms of reference were stated thus: “to carry out a holistic review of the Joint Venture Agreement between the NPA and Niger Global, to examine the request for payments by Niger Global received vide letter ref. T0160/S107/IXA/205 dated 15th August, 2016 from the office of the Minister of Transportation, to examine the operational and administrative effectiveness of CCM, to make appropriate recommendations to management.”
The recommendations of the committee among others as stated in the document say, “Having verified volumes dredged, all outstanding payments due to CCML should be effected in line with the provisions of the JV Agreement.
“That in view of the subsisting presidential approval for the JV, CCML be allowed to continue with its operation but at a reduced scale to be determined by the authority’s need and CCML’s Board Technical and Finance Committees.
“That henceforth, a multi-disciplinary project management team made of civil engineers, surveyors, hydrographers be appointed with definite responsibility to manage the dredging activities of all the channel management companies (LCM, BCC &CCML).”
However, in a letter she wrote to the Minister of Justice, Malami, the suspended NPA MD said the contractor connived with the consultant and lied to the NPA that work was done. She also lied to the minister that no key officer of the NPA such as Port Harbour Master and Port Hydrographer agreed that any work was done.
The letter dated June 5, 2018 and received by the ministry on June 8, 2018 was signed by I.G. Umar, Assistant General Manager, Board, for NPA Managing Director.
The letter was titled ‘Re: Execution Summary of the Entire Argument Surrounding the Calabar Channel Management Contract at the Truth Verifiably Documentary Evidence’.
Part of Usman’s letter to Malami read: “The committee found amongst others; that the Harbour Master and Port Hydrographer (two key officers) who should be involved in the dredging exercise denied that any dredging activities took place within the period claimed by Niger Global, the ship movement of the dredgers MV Atlantico, MV Hurricane and MV Waterway could not be substantiated by the Calabar port, the pre and post comparison of the depth of the channel with a survey carried out six months before the dredging exercise revealed that the alleged dredging of the areas of the channel was questionable.”
“Meanwhile, this same consultant is having a valid contact with the NPA and it is the same consultant that is confirming work of both Bonny and Lagos channel managements and the same MD is making payment to these companies on the basis of confirmation of work by the same consultant she’s accusing of wrongdoing.
“The second big lie she told the minister is that no any key officer of the NPA such as Port Harbour Master and Port Hydrographer agreed that any work was done,” one of the sources said.
But the report of the committee shows that Port Hydrographer, a key officer of the NPA, was a member of the technical committee and signed under a report which confirmed that work was done.
A letter from the Nigerian Navy dated July 2017 with ref VT: 015/73/200/Vol.IV/70, made available to SaharaReporters also showed the suspended NPA MD was hiding the true state of things.
The letter, addressed to the Managing Director, Calabar Channel Management Company, was titled, ‘Provision of Security Services to the Dredging Company for Calabar Channel for the period 20 November, 2014 to 15 January, 2015’.
It says, “This is to confirm that the Nigerian Navy through NNS VICTORY Calabar provided all the security services to the personnel and equipment of Calabar Channel Management Company for the successful execution of dredging exercise. The operation was hitch-free based on our assessment hence there was no security breach during the period.”
“At the moment, nobody including the minister (Amaechi) and the President is aware of the true outcome of that committee report because she refused to let them have a copy of the report and she only keeps telling them and Nigerians that the committee report indicted the contractor.
“She has granted many interviews in which she told lies about the whole contract. She’s a pathological liar and always knows how to get away with all this. Her arrogance and disregard for working ethics have cost Nigeria a lot and still cost Nigeria hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. She is the reason why Calabar Port has not been dredged and Lagos ports decongested,” added one of the sources.
Documents by Sahara Reporters on Scribd
Calabar Channel_Committee Review Signed Copy by Sahara Reporters on Scribd
Calabar Port Update Post Privatization Monitoring by Sahara Reporters on Scribd
Joint Confirmatory Survey by Sahara Reporters on Scribd