By Sola Omoniyi, Lagos
Former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has slammed the immediate past Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, (NPA), Hadiza Usman for documenting a false narrative in her book titled: “Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority.”
Amaechi spoke as the guest speaker at the 2023 TheNiche Annual Lecture themed “Why We Stride and Slip: Leadership, Nationalism, and the Nigerian Condition,” held on Thursday in Lagos.
Recall, that former President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) after complaints from the then Minister of Transport, Amaechi.
Buhari then sacked and replaced her with Mohammed Bello-Koko as the feud between her and Amaechi grew stronger.
“There has been a huge debate in the past six months about whether I should respond or not. I said I would respond today but 90 per cent said I should not,” Amaechi said.
“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 because a Managing Director of NPA with an N2.5m approval limit can approve an 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 enough 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 would 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.
Amaechi added: “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 since 2013 would not give me a birthday present?”