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‘The lies were too many’ — Amaechi speaks on Hadiza Bala Usman’s book

Rotimi Amaechi, transport minister Rotimi Amaechi, transport minister

Rotimi Amaechi, former minister of transportation, says “lies were too many” in Hadiza Bala Usman’s new book titled, “Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority”.

This is the first time the former minister is speaking about the book that was unveiled in April this year.

Bala-Usman was suspended as managing director of the NPA in 2021 and was replaced by Mohammed Bello-Koko in 2022.

Her suspension was recommended by Amaechi who alleged that the agency, under her watch, failed to remit N165 billion operating surplus to the coffers of the federal government.

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Bala-Usman was later exonerated by an administrative panel of inquiry set up to investigate the alleged mismanagement.

In her book, the ex-NPA boss opened up on the major issues that led to her ouster by Amaechi.

She had said Amaechi wanted her out of NPA because “two of the most important contracts in the authority were due for renewal”.

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She accused the former minister of demanding “an extension of tenure of the companies providing capital dredging services without due process”.

Speaking during a lecture organised by The Niche, titled “Why we stride and slip: Leadership, Nationalism and the Nigerian condition” in Lagos on Thursday, Amaechi said over the past six months, there has been a debate on whether he should respond to the book.

“There is a huge debate in the past six months whether I should respond or not. I said I would respond today but 90 percent said I should not,” Amaechi said.

“The lies were too many. For instance, she claimed she was not invited by the panel. I even came with the memo of the president, where the president endorsed her removal.

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“Count one is in the question of the fact that the panel says she is guilty; count two is due to the fact that a managing director of NPA with N2.5 million approval limit can approve N2.8 billion contract with no appropriation.

“Why is that document not published because prominent Nigerians are involved. She gave waivers to prominent Nigerians, which she has no power to give, and these are dollars accruable to Nigeria’s economy, but she was bold to write a book or is it a pamphlet and Nigerians are following her, launching the book, so how will Nigeria move forward?

“But let’s wait until they bring the original copy because if I give you the photocopy, you will say it is fake. I will show you the original, but I won’t allow you to read it because you would see the names of those prominent Nigerians that were indicted by the panel.

“I will rather read the areas that concern her and leave those prominent Nigerians, they didn’t look for my trouble.

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“But to show you how bad the situation was for me as the minister of transport, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the president and vice-president, including the minister of transport will approve an agreement for Lekki Deep Sea Port, the MD of NPA will change it and when queried, she will say for national interest, so we are for Biafra interest?”

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