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Stop Peddling Lies – Hadiza Bala Usman Replies Former Minister, Amaechi

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Stop Peddling Lies – Hadiza Bala Usman Replies Former Minister, Amaechi

Special adviser to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on policy coordination, Hadiza Bala Usman says Rotimi Amaechi, former minister of transportation, has “recovered from his botched presidential bid and crawling back into public life”.

Bala Usman said this in response to the allegations Amaechi made against her concerning her new book titled “Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority”.

In her response on Saturday, Bala Usman accused Amaechi of exaggerations and manipulating the truth, adding that she never hid what transpired when she was the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in her book.

She also denied ever awarding a contract worth N2.8bn as claimed by Amaechi, saying the accusation was not part of the list of infractions against her.

Bala Usman queried why Amaechi is the only one that has access to the panel report on her indictment, saying it is an official document that should be in government’s custody and not to be treated as a personal document.

She also described Amaechi’s claim that he is keeping the panel report to protect the interest of some prominent Nigerians as “self-serving and condescending”.

Amaechi should please grow up and stop all these lies

Recent newspaper reports of false claims attributed to the eternally petty ex-Minister of Transportation, His Excellency Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, about me did not come to me as a surprise.

In his over two decades in public office, Nigerians must be used to the fluidity with which he tells lies, manipulates facts, and talks out of turn.

Here is someone who once brazenly told Nigerians that he doesn’t like money, even when his public conduct contradicts this assertion. That must be the most fantastic lie that any public official, living or dead, has ever told Nigerians and so, nothing he says should astonish us.

Aside from exaggerations, manipulation of the truth and outright lies which he threw at his audience on Thursday, the former Minister said nothing that I did not already reveal in my memoirs: Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority.

The book has been on sale since April 2023, but has he even read it to understand that I didn’t hide anything from Nigerians about the events surrounding my “stepping aside,” and eventual exit as Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Mr Amaechi in his rant alleged that I awarded a contract worth N2.8b. This is false. I don’t know where the former Minister got his N2.8b 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.

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

This subject was addressed in Query E with the title: “Unilateral and improper use of the emergency procurement mode to procure vehicles”.

Here, the management of the NPA was accused of making the emergency purchase of operational vehicles “to the tune of One Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy-Seven Million, Six Hundred and Sixty Nine Thousand, One Hundred and Eighty-Three Naira Ninety Five Kobo(N1,277,669,183.95), without approval from the Federal Executive Council.”

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In my response to the query of the N1.2billion expenditure, I explained that we made the procurement pursuant to 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.

The former Minister also spoke about waivers, which the FMOT 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.

In my response, I explained as follows: “The Authority was of the view that the supplemental agreement was operational in nature and does not alter any major aspect of the concession agreement as it only rescheduled construction timeframe for a berth and allowed other players to partake in the development of dry bulk since the company was constrained to embark on the construction at that time …”

Mr Amaechi also claimed that I was indicted on some ten counts. I do not know what these ten 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 N165bill non-remittance of operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) 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?

Media reports from his lecture said that Mr Amaechi “brandished” the panel report saying that he is keeping it to himself. But I wonder what the secrecy about the report is when the details of the alleged infractions were published as Appendix iii, from pages 157 through 179 of my book. On these pages, I shared the full official query issued to me on the alleged infractions arising from the investigation of the panel of inquiry by the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), and my response.

But more importantly, why is he the only one who has had access to this report?

Mr Amaechi carries on like this was his personal document with which he can grandstand by showing his cronies and blackmailing other Nigerians. But no! This is an official document that should be in government custody and copies should be made available to parties that have been so indicted for action in line with the recommendations. But he goes about like he is the government and that he makes the sole decision on what to do with government documents.

He talked about four printed copies out of which two were stolen, and even had the audacity to suggest that I was hoping for his own copy (which should not be in his house), would be stolen. Really? How ridiculous and improper can people get with public office?

His claim that he is keeping the report close to his chest to protect the interest of some “prominent Nigerians” who did not “look for his trouble,” is self-serving and condescending.

This attitude again reflects the former Minister’s mindset. Does he own Nigeria? Does “looking for his trouble” or not determine whether people are held accountable for monies they owe Nigeria? If people owe Nigeria money and have been asked to refund, why should the former minister hold on to such recommendations because they didn’t “look for his trouble?”

Finally, he made so much fuss about whether I gave him a birthday gift or not. While this is a trivial issue, the question he should answer is whether he complained to someone that I never gave him a birthday gift as Minister or not.

He referenced that I worked under him from 2013 and inferred that anyone working under him for that period would have given him birthday presents. I wonder why it should be automatic to give anyone birthday presents because you work for them. Such entitlement disposition is responsible for a lot of misbehaviours exhibited by people like Mr Amaechi when Nigeria bestows them with opportunities for public office. The truth is that no one owes you anything!

In any case, I only worked with him between December 2014 to May 2015. So, how many birthdays would have gone past within that period that I would have given him “a lot of birthday presents,” as he claimed.

If indeed I offered him a present while he was Minister and he turned down my gift, why then did he complain that amongst my “many crimes”, was the fact that I never gave him a birthday present? The Minister should please stop ridiculing himself by fabricating these stories that do not add up.

It is a good thing to see that the former Minister has finally recovered from his failed presidential bid and is crawling back into public life. However, he should not and cannot make Hadiza Bala Usman the subject of his attempt at a rebound.

Mr Amaechi would definitely have his perspective of the events of the five years I served Nigeria as Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority under his supervision. There is no problem with that, but when he shares his perspective, I suggest that he endeavours to stick to the facts and resist the apparently usually overwhelming urge to speak arbitrarily and spread falsehood.

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