BY Chinedu Asadu
Twenty-four hours after refuting allegations of failing to remit the operating surplus of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to the consolidated revenue fund (CFR), Hadiza Bala Usman was suspended as the managing director of the NPA.
In a letter dated May 5, 2021, a copy of which was obtained by TheCable, Usman told Ibrahim Gambari, chief of staff to the president, that the purported failure of the NPA to remit an outstanding balance of N165.32 billion from 2017 to 2018 was a misrepresentation of facts.
She said that contrary to the figures given by the budget office as outstanding operating surplus, the NPA had remitted all that was due to the CFR — as stipulated in the fiscal responsibility act of 2007.
However, it was too late by the time her letter came as the cold war between her and Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transportation who supervises NPA, was already on the cusp of boiling over.
PROBING THE NPA’S BOOKS
After a failed attempt to get external auditors to audit NPA’s books — which Adolphus Aghughu, the auditor-general of the federation, said had been audited — Amaechi wrote Buhari via a March 4 letter to complain that the NPA had not remitted an “operating surplus of N165 billion to the consolidated revenue fund account (CFR) from 2o16 till date”, citing information from the budget office.
Acting on the letter and subsequent correspondences, Gambari asked the suspended NPA MD to forward records of the agency’s remittance of operating surplus.
By then, Amaechi had furnished the presidency with financial records provided by the budget office, in which NPA’s net profit was listed as N133.08 billion (2017), N88.79 billion (2018), N73.92 billion (2019) and N71.59 billion (Q1 – Q3 of 2020).
‘NPA HAS REMITTED ALL THAT IS DUE TO THE GOVERNMENT’
In her response to Gambari, Usman faulted the net profit as listed by the budget office, saying it was in excess of the actual amounts and that it was contrary to the template provided by the fiscal responsibility act.
In a March 2 letter to the ministry of transportation, the budget office had said that the NPA’s operating surpluses were N133.084 billion and N88.79 billion for 2017 and 2018 respectively.
But on the contrary, Usman informed the presidency that the NPA had N76.782 as operating surplus for 2017 and N71.48 billion for 2018 in its financial statement prepared in line with the fiscal responsibility act.
“Accordingly, the figures so provided by the Budget Office of the Federation as the Operating Surplus for the respective years on which basis they arrived at the shortfall are derived from submission of budgetary provision not the actual amounts derived following the statutory audit of the Authorities financial statements,” she said.
“The Authority’s (NPA) computation of its remittances to the CFR are concluded arising from numbers from Audited Financial Statements using the template forwarded to the Authority from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission as herewith attached and not budgetary provision.
“The authority has remitted the full amount due to it to CFR for the periods of 2017 and 2018 arising from the Operating Surplus derived from the Audited Financial Statement for the period totalling N76.384 billion as evidenced in attached treasury receipts.
“The Authority has remitted a total of N82.687 billion for the period 2019 and 2020 pending the audit of the financial statement at which point the amount so computed arising from the value of the Operating Surplus in the audited financial statement will be remitted to the CFR.”
However, by the time the presidency could consider her letter, Amaechi was already meeting with Buhari to make a final case for her suspension, as earlier reported by TheCable.