New NPA boss: Square peg in a round hole

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

When This­day News­pa­per re­ported that it was re­li­ably in­formed that Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari was set to ap­point Hadiza Bala Us­man as the new MD of The Nige­ria Port Author­ity (NPA), I dis­missed it as one of those re­ports aimed at dent­ing the al­ready dented im­age of the Pres­i­dent by the “South­ern News­pa­pers”. How­ever, on deeper re­flec­tion based on the well known re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Trans­port Min­is­ter who is re­spon­si­ble for the su­per­vi­sion of the NPA and on whose rec­om­men­da­tion we were told Mr Pres­i­dent acted, and Hadiza’s boss, Malam Nasir el-Ru­fai, I de­cided to keep my fingers crossed to see how things un­fold.

Not long there­after, we saw a Press Re­lease by the Min­istry in­form­ing us of Hadiza’s ap­point­ment which ef­fec­tively con­firmed what This­day News­pa­per al­leged. I have never met Hadiza in per­son, but I have read about her since her days at the BPE as an aide to el-Ru­fai when he held sway as the DG of the gov­ern­ment pri­vati­sa­tion Agency, the Bureau of Pub­lic En­ter­prise.

A cur­sory look at Hadiza’s CV shows that, she is 40 years old which is quite in­ter­est­ing and en­cour­ag­ing, with a Postgraduate Diploma. But all her life, she has never worked a side the one year she spent in her fa­ther’s think-tank, Cen­ter for Demo­cratic De­vel­op­ment Re­search and Train­ing (CEDDERT) in Zaria ex­cept as an aide to Mal­lam el-Ru­fai. From his days at the BPE, to FCTA, and to the Good Governence Group(3G) which he co-founded when he was be­ing chased by Yar’adua gov­ern­ment and to the Kaduna State Gov­ern­ment House where she was serv­ing as his Chief of Staff be­fore her ap­point­ment. If we are to be hon­est with our­selves, a per­son with that cre­den­tial is not qual­i­fied to han­dle a del­i­cate task of man­ag­ing our port. Be­ing a per­sonal aide is en­tirely dif­fer­ent from head­ing a ev­ery strate­gic agency like the NPA.

Some e-rats may try to jus­tify this non­sense by cit­ing the case of Osita Chi­doka who was ap­pointed Corps Mar­shall of the Fed­eral Road Safety Corps with­out any ex­pe­ri­ence aside be­ing a Spe­cial As­sis­tant to a Min­is­ter and in the Pres­i­dency and other sim­i­lar ir­ra­tional ap­point­ments by the past gov­ern­ment. My an­swer to them is sim­ple: We are tired of the sta­tus-quo, that was why we de­manded for change, and through shared ef­fort, and the will of God we got it.

Pres­i­dent Buhari should be care­ful with the way he han­dle some of these is­sues. He should not ap­prove all the junks be­ing wrapped by his min­is­ters as rec­om­men­da­tion with scru­tiny. Be­cause, Hadiza’s ap­point­ment clearly in­di­cated that Mr Pres­i­dent’s gospel of re­form in the Trans­port sec­tor is not for real.

I thought the seat should be ad­ver­tised, cer­tain num­ber of can­di­dates should be pre-qual­i­fied, in­ter­view and or ex­am­i­na­tion con­ducted prefer­ably by a for­eign con­sul­tant, and the can­di­date with the high­est score ap­pointed. With that, we are sure of the qual­ity of the per­son so ap­pointed. Let’s call a spade by its name: el-Ru­fai ask his friend, the Min­is­ter of Trans­port, Ro­timi Amaechi to rec­om­mend Hadiza for the post and cor­nered the Pres­i­dent to ap­prove the rec­om­men­da­tion of the Trans­port Min­is­ter.

How­ever, what we have now is a clear case of square peg in a round hole which clearly in­di­cated a clear ev­i­dence of nepo­tism!

Muham­mad Auta, Jalingo muham­madauta@gmail.com

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