Arewa Youths under the umbrella of Concerned Northern Forum (CNF) have said that the North would defend the embattled Managing Director of Nigeria Airport Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, saying her suspension was a deliberate case of witch-hunt, blackmail and bullying.
At a press conference held at Arewa House, Kaduna, yesterday, the group faulted the investigative panel set up by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, alleging that it was meant to disparage and victimise her because of her refusal to allow the minister “unfettered access to the purse of the NPA with which he hopes to assemble the financial war chest to fund his desperate bid to contest for the Presidency of Nigeria in 2023.”
The chairman of the CNF, Alhaji Mohammed Salihu Danlami, said: “We have noted the grand plan of a witch-hunt by the Minister against Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman in the manner with which he has moved from one purported offence to the other all in a desperate attempt to tarnish her image.”
According to him, Amaechi had initially commenced with a spurious allegation of non-remittance of monies to the coffers of government, which met a brick wall, as the managing director had made the remittances.
Danlami added: “Having failed on that line of offence, Amaechi then moved and developed a far-fetched TOR for the panel to conduct all manners of inquiry across administrative procedures, communication channels and procurement.
“We have followed every details of this unfortunate development and wish to unequivocally state that we regard Hadiza Bala Usman’s suspension without following due process not only as an assault on women inclusiveness in governance, but also as an attack on northern Nigeria, and a well-orchestrated attempt by Amaechi to embarrass the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for rewarding the uncommon character, competence and capacity with which Hadiza Bala Usman discharged her duty to Nigeria by recently renewing her appointment as the head of NPA for another five years.”
Danlami further explained that at the time Hadiza Bala Usman was first appointed to head the NPA in 2016, the agency was a cesspool of corruption and had become incapable of adding value to the Federal Government to the level expected of an entity that is the gateway to the Nigerian economy.
“Hadiza Bala Usman immediately set out to reposition the NPA for greater operational efficiency and revenue generation by blocking all avenues of corruption that hitherto undermined the agency. In a bid to achieve this noble objective, she unavoidably stepped on the toes of very powerful political figures with vested interests in the running of the NPA.
“Specifically, she insisted that all revenue generating operation of the NPA must fully comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the Federal Government. This meant that all companies who had been operating with impunity in handling monies belonging to Nigeria were called to order, and that concession agreements skewed against national interest were reviewed.
“In no distant time, her patriotic actions yielded results with the NPA posting unprecedented remittances in billions to the coffers of the government from 2016 to date.
We at the Concerned Northern Forum felt very proud of the giant strides of Hadiza Bala Usman especially when we read in the news how global bodies such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH), amongst others, in recognition of her strides at the NPA, appointed her to head strategic aspects of their operations,” he said.
Danlami noted that the group was shocked at the embarrassing news of her suspension and investigation, adding: “Whilst we are not opposed to probity in governance, there appears to be a sinister and clandestine motive behind the setting up of Amaechi’s administrative panel of enquiry when there is a clear procedure to discipline erring chief executives of parastatals as approved by Mr. President himself in a circular dated May 2020.
“It is evident that he has set up this kangaroo panel of inquiry to do his bidding. In which world does a complainant become the judge and jury over a case?
Furthermore, we are curious to ask why only our amazon, Hadiza Bala Usman, was asked to step aside in an organisation whose decision making is carried out by an executive management composed of a Managing Director and three Executive Directors?
“Could she have single-handedly carried out all of the allegations for which she has been suspended? Why then was she singled out for embarrassment and reputational damage? These are questions Rotimi Amaechi must answer,” he added.