The suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, has replied to a former NPA board member, Senator Binta Garba, over alleged financial recklessness in the authority.
Ms Garba had accused Ms Usman of orchestrating her removal from the board of the NPA for allegedly raising observations over the agency’s financial records.
Responding, the suspended NPA boss, in a statement she signed on Monday, denied Ms Garba’s allegation, saying that the Senator was in the agency for destabilisation rather than for contribution to its development.
The statement reads in part: “Apart from the fact that Senator Binta Garba really said nothing substantial, making only spurious, unproved allegations in the statement she issued on Sunday, she also gave herself away as coming to the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to lend herself to the agency of destabilisation rather than contribute to its development.
“As I say with all emphasis that her allegations of resistance to inquiries on the finances of the NPA are false, I make bold to say that the Authority has since 2016, openly exhibited its readiness to be held to public scrutiny.”
Setting the record straight, Ms Usman said the agency under her stewardship took several steps to ensure accountability in the authority.
According to her, the agency had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with BUdgit Open Budget System Platform and Implementation of a Public Data Dissemination programme.
Others included, “publishing the tariff regime of the Authority on the website for the whole world to see in line with the vision of transparency and accountability;
“Conducting the statutory Audit of the backlog of Authority’s financial statements for 2013-2016 and presenting the same for approval and submission to the appropriate quarters;
“And engaging internationally renowned auditing firms for the audit of NPA’s financial statements up until 2019 with full compliance to all Nigerian laws and the International Financial Reporting Standards.
She added that the 2020 financial statement is currently being audited.
Ms Usman, therefore, challenged the veracity of the senator’s claims, asking why she did not formally document her discontent.
She said: “There are a few questions to ask the Senator: When the Auditors presented the financial statement to the finance committee of which she was a member, did she seek clarifications on areas that seemed opaque or suspicious?
“If she did what happened? If she was not satisfied with the answers provided by the Auditors, why did she not consider withholding assent to the statement?
“Why did she not formally document her discontent? Why did she not issue a minority opinion on the statement, instead of now speaking after the fact?
“All said and done, while I concede to Senator Binta Garba’s right to whatever opinion she desires concerning our relationship when she was a board member, I remind her that those who allow themselves to be used to malign innocent people have their own days of reckoning waiting for them.”