The appointment of embattled Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman has been described as one of the grevious mistakes of the Buhari administration by a leading licensed customs agent, Lucky Amiwero.
He said she lacks work experience and that places she had worked before coming to NPA never qualified her for such assignment of national economic significance.
Amiwero who is President of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) said Hadiza was thrown up for the sensitive assignment by virtue of political patronage without experience or knowledge about such critical national assets, saying she is unfit for the job.
Speaking to reporters in a telephone interview, Amiwero added that her management style set the nation’s ports backwards as expectations of becoming a load center, transhipment hub and a preferred port by users were not achieved under Hadiza.
According to Amiwero, managing ports for optimum impacts goes beyond making revenue for government but supporting local and international businesses using the ports to grow international trade.
“You know me for one thing, which is the truth. One of the greatest mistakes the government has made is Hadiza Bala-Usman.
“Because when you look at the whole concept of the port, you will agree she is not fit for the task.
“I have been involved in the port activities for a very long time. I am saying this based on the truth. Hadiza has no experience in the port. Look at people who have been manning the port before Hadiza; people like Sarumi, Gwandu and many more have been in the port before they left.
“Hadiza was brought politically and that destroyed the whole port system. We don’t have a working port. Our port system is zero. The components of the port is supposed to be driven on three aspects which was actually designed by the World Bank.
“Firstly, the regulators is supposed to be the Shippers Council, as given to them by the Jonathan administration and solidified by the present dispensation.
“Secondly you look at the engineering aspect of the port itself, which is the land lord function.
“Thirdly the port concessionaires, because if that is not in place, what you will have are lease operators, because their contract is on lease.
“Till now, we don’t have a contract for concessionaires. There is no concession in our port system, but leasing.
“I know this because I am part of the system when it comes to port operations, international trade and reforms in customs. So you have a woman without any experience about the structure and working of an ideal port being in charge.
“The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is not a regulator, they are service providers, because they are to provide service to take care of the channels, engineering, pilotage and other areas. If you check the law, it is very clear.
‘But what has happened is that Hadiza was brought in politically, and that destroyed the port system completely. The ports are not about politics. If you go round the world, the port system is not politicised. If you don’t have a good port, then you will drown economically
Our port is not to generate revenue as some think and I think the government is making a very big mistake about that.
“The functions of the port authority is to see how to make the ports a load centre, transhipment centre or the preferred port. Are we the load centre, transhipment centre or preferred port? The answer is no.
“We are not classified under any of these. Our transhipment is lost. It is been handled by Togo, Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana” he said.