Former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has accused the immediate Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, (NPA), Hadiza Usman of documenting false narrative in her book titled: “Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority.”
Hadiza had in the book chronicled her emergence and struggles while she was in the office as managing director of NPA.
But speaking at the annual lecture organised by The Niche with the theme: “Why we stride and slip: Leadership, Nationalism and the Nigerian condition,” held in Lagos, Amaechi said the former NPA boss omitted the offenses which led to her removal.
Daily Trust reports that this is the first time Amaechi would respond to claims against him in Hadiza’s book.
Hadiza had also alleged that Amaechi orchestrated her removal from office in February 2022 because she failed to shower him with favours.
She was suspended from office in May 2021 over alleged non-remittance of about N165bn operating surpluses into the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account of the federation by the NPA.
Amaechi at the lecture said he had been refraining from responding to the claims in her book, stating the lies were just too many.
Amaechi further disclosed that as managing Director of NPA with N2.5m approval limit, she approved a contract of N2.4bn.
According to him, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) found out that despite the lack of appropriation, the contract was inflated by N58m which she was asked to refund.
He said, “There is a huge debate in the past six months whether I should respond or not. I said I would respond today but 90 percent said I should not.
“The lies were too many. For instance, she claimed she was not invited by the panel. I even came with the memo of the president, where the president endorsed her removal.
“Count one is in the question of the fact that the panel says she is guilty; count two is due to the fact that a Managing Director of NPA with N2.5m approval limit can approve N2.8b contract with no appropriation…
“Why is that document not published because prominent Nigerians are involved. She gave waivers to prominent Nigerians, which she has no power to give and these are dollars accruable to Nigeria’s economy but she was bold to write a book or is it a pamphlet and Nigerians are following her, launching the book, so how will Nigeria move forward?
“But let’s wait until they bring the original copy because if I give you the photocopy, you will say it is fake. I will show you the original but I won’t allow you to read it because you would see the names of those prominent Nigerians that were indicted by the panel. I will rather read the areas that concern her and leave those prominent Nigerians, they didn’t look for my trouble.
“But to show you how bad the situation was for me as the Minister of Transport, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, the President and Vice President including the Minister of Transport will approve an agreement for Lekki Deep Sea Port, the MD of NPA will change it and when queried, she will say for national interest, so we are for Biafra interest?” he asked.
Also, Hadiza had claimed in the book that Amaechi was angry because she did not buy him a birthday gift.
But contrary to her claim, Amaechi said she used to buy him birthday’s gifts until he became a Minister when he told her to stop buying him birthday’s gifts.
“She gave me a lot of birthday presents, from the time I met her to when I became a Minister. When I became a minister, the last birthday present she gave me was a big returnee bag. So I said no, that I am Now a minister. You are now my subordinate, but she lied. Would you believe that somebody who worked under me from 2013 will not give a birthday present” he said.
He said that the political class now rides on the strength of ethnicity to achieve their aim of winning political offices, adding that the scheme brings to bear division among the citizens.
“Most times, we elect those who openly show that they are ethnic leaders and they are there for their ethnic group.
“Our political elites constantly run to their ethnic bases to provoke ethnic debate each time they fail to win advantages in their struggle for power and privilege at the national level,” he said.
He said the country is in dire need of a leader with a nationalist mindset that promotes diversity, equality, and inclusion in governance.
“I doubt that we had a national leader. The only person near the figure of nationalism is President Obasanjo. A national leader has the ability to galvanize the totality of a nation around the common national banner.
“Genuine nationality leadership transcends ethnicity, religion, region or geography. The truly remarkable leader is the one that rises above these limitations to take the nation to that place where they long for,” he said.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the Niche Ikechukwu Amaechi stated that the lecture was aimed at addressing issues affecting the country.
“Nigeria is at the crossroads, no doubt. All the indices of human development are pointing south. Why are we thriving and sliding,” he said.