On the Se­nate, ports and rev­enue leak­ages

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

One is con­strained to join is­sues with Mr. Ya­haya Sadique, sup­pos­edly a Kaduna-based writer over an ar­ti­cle au­thored by him and pub­lished re­cently. The ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “The Se­nate, Ports and rev­enue leak­ages” is to say, the least a dis­ser­vice to the cause of truth. Although it hinges its premise on the ports and at­tempts by the se­nate to in­ves­ti­gate al­leged rev­enue leak­ages at the ports, it dwells ex­ten­sively on a state­ment re­cently is­sued by re­spected elder states­man and for­mer Mil­i­tary Gover­nor of Kaduna State, Col. Umar Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd). And that is re­ally pa­thetic.

One finds it dis­taste­ful that Mr. Sadique would dis­par­age a man who has re­mained one of the most com­mit­ted pa­tri­ots and has never shied away from speak­ing his mind on na­tional is­sue no mat­ter how con­tentious they are. To in­sin­u­ate that the states­man is un­der the in­flu­ence of the NPA, is to say the least, a dis­grace­ful po­si­tion not ex­pected of any­one con­ver­sant with and na­tional his­tory and na­tional in­ter­est at heart.

But it does not seem that the writer un­der dis­cus­sion is in tune with the cur­rent state of af­fairs go­ing by the con­tent of his ar­ti­cle es­pe­cially as it con­cerns the NPA. Any­one fa­mil­iar with the cur­rent state of af­fairs at the NPA would read­ily tes­tify to the in­creas­ing level of trans­parency at the agency.

Just on Tues­day this week, a re­port in The Na­tion quoted states­man and for­mer Gover­nor of Ogun State, Chief Oluse­gun Osoba as say­ing the fol­low­ing about the new ad­min­is­tra­tion at the NPA. “If any­body is com­plain­ing about Hadiza Bala Us­man…it must be that such peo­ple are not trans­par­ent. And if you are not trans­par­ent and com­pli­ant to the rules and reg­u­la­tion of NPA, you will run into trou­bled wa­ters with Hadiza Bala Us­man.”

How does this dif­fer from Umar com­ments made about her just a few hours be­fore Osoba said the fore­go­ing?

From what I have read about the NPA in the past cou­ple months, its man­age­ment has shown com­mend­able com­mit­ment to in­sti­tut­ing a cul­ture of trans­parency at the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Con­cern­ing their re­la­tion­ship with the Se­nate, the only pub­lic com­ments that can be at­trib­uted to the NPA are those which of­fered ex­pla­na­tions on is­sues raised by the Se­nate com­mit­tees and went on to as­sure of its readi­ness to pro­vide fur­ther in­for­ma­tion. Two ex­am­ples of these are state­ments en­ti­tled: “NPA wel­comes Se­nate’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of its JV En­ter­prises,” pub­lished in the July 7, 2017 edi­tion of Lead­er­ship and “No ev­i­dence of 282 miss­ing ves­sels, says NPA,” pub­lished in the July 27, edi­tion of THISDAY. From this, it is ev­i­dent that the NPA does need not any mouth­piece to com­mu­ni­cate its opin­ion to stake­hold­ers in the Nige­rian project.

Hav­ing said that, there is a need for me to high­light the part of re­port of The Na­tion of Au­gust 3, 2017, which he quoted in his ar­ti­cle. He had writ­ten: “…To sup­port this po­si­tion, which Col. Umar seemed to align to, the same pub­li­ca­tion stated more than four in­stances where ves­sels had come to Cal­abar Port and ex­ited the Port with­out any proper doc­u­men­ta­tion.” He went ahead to list these oc­ca­sions when ves­sels were not prop­erly doc­u­mented and con­cluded that: “If these are true, then the NPA has tac­itly ad­mit­ted that in­deed ves­sels en­ter the Nige­rian wa­ters and dis­ap­pear with­out doc­u­men­ta­tion. This tacit ad­mis­sion val­i­dates the po­si­tion of the Se­nate that in­deed, ves­sels do en­ter Nige­ria’s territorial wa­ters un­der the watch of the NPA and exit with­out doc­u­men­ta­tion, hence the Pub­lic Hear­ing by Se­nate to look at the rev­enue leak­ages in the Ports. This tacit ad­mis­sion by the NPA there­fore ex­plains the aver­sion of the MD of the Nige­rian Ports of Au­thor­ity to hon­our the in­vi­ta­tion of the Se­nate Com­mit­tee and tes­tify at the Pub­lic Hear­ing.”

My own un­der­stand­ing of the part of the re­port in The Na­tion is dif­fer­ent. In my own un­der­stand­ing, the ships quoted in the ar­ti­cle by Mr. Sadique have noth­ing to do with the 282 ships that were said to be miss­ing. On the con­trary, they ex­pli­cate the con­clu­sion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into ac­tives of the Cal­abar Chan­nel Man­age­ment Com­pany and the at­tempt to hood­wink the NPA by the ap­pear­ance and dis­ap­pear­ance of these ships which were sup­posed to have been de­ployed as part of the com­pany’s dredg­ing con­tract.

Fur­ther­more, in the THISDAY re­port of July 27 ear­lier cited, the NPA ex­plained that it was pre­sented with a num­ber of doc­u­ments on July 20, 2017 while an­other set was passed on to it through the Nige­rian Ship­pers Coun­cil on July 24, 2017.

The re­port said af­ter look­ing through the doc­u­ments, the NPA dis­cov­ered that of the 29 items handed over to it, only five ves­sels were iden­ti­fi­able with the other 24 items be­ing rep­e­ti­tions of the five iden­ti­fied ves­sels.

The re­port fur­ther said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was un­able to con­duct a mean­ing­ful re­view of the doc­u­ments sent through the Nige­rian Ship­pers Coun­cil be­cause they did not in­clude data like ves­sel names, ar­rival date of ves­sels, port of ar­rival, name of ter­mi­nal and no ro­ta­tion num­ber of ves­sels that will en­able ver­i­fi­ca­tion. It also said that the sit­u­a­tion had been com­mu­ni­cated to the Se­nate Com­mit­tee.

What is clear from the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the NPA is that it is com­mit­ted to the war against in­dis­ci­pline of the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion. And as it con­cerns Col. Umar, one does not know what a man of his con­vic­tion, a man who stood against wrong de­ci­sions taken by his su­pe­ri­ors in the mil­i­tary, should be ac­cused of false­hood by Mr. Sadique.

For me, Col. Umar called the at­ten­tion of Nige­ri­ans to is­sues that are per­ti­nent to na­tional sur­vival. It is a pe­riod in our coun­try when men and women of virtue are scarce, Umar is one of such and we should not grudge him for iden­ti­fy­ing peo­ple like him and stand­ing with them. No, we should not!

Obi, a mar­itime busi­ness an­a­lyst, wrote this piece from Lagos.

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