By Segun Oye
The suspension of Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, as the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has been generating interest since it was announced by Senior Presidential Media Aide, Garba Shehu.
In a statement on Thursday, Mr. Shehu said “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation under Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.”
This development appears not to go down well with maritime sector players who opine that the suspension of the erstwhile NPA MD runs contrary to a Federal Government circular signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and dated May 19, 2020.
The circular titled: “APPROVED DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE AGAINST CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PARASTATALS, AGENCIES AND DEPARTMENTS” reads:
Government has observed with concern, the arbitrary removal of Chief Executive Officers and its impact on stability and service delivery.
Accordingly, Mr. President has approved the following streamlined procedure for the discipline of Chief Executive Officers of Government Parastatals, Agencies and Departments in accordance with the Public Service Rules (PSR).
i. When an act bordering on Serious Misconduct against a Chief Executive Officer is reported, It shall be the duty of the Supervising Minister through the Permanent Secretary to refer the matter to the Governing Board for necessary action in line with the relevant provisions of the Establishment Act and the principles guiding Chapters 3 and 16 of the Public ServiceRule;
ii. The Board shall in line with due process, issue him/her a query requesting an explanation with respect to the specific acts (s) complained about;
iii. The Board shall forward its findings and recommendations to the Minister for further consideration and necessary action;
iv. In the event that the Governing Board is the initiator of the report on the alleged serious misconduct, the Minister on the advice of the Permanent Secretary ensures that sub-paragraphs (ii) & (iii) above have been complied with, fully;
v. Where the Chief Executive is also the Chairman of the Board, the Minister, on the advice of the Permanent Secretary, forward the Ministry’s position along with the recommendations of the Board and the explanation of the Chief Executive Officer to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) for processing to Mr. President, for a decision;
vi. It shall be the responsibility of the SGF to further advise Mr President on the next course of action, based on the outcome of the final investigation;
ix. The SGF shall implement and or convey the approval and directives of Mr. President on every disciplinary case against the Chief Executive Officer in the Public Service.
From the above, it is clear that the laid down procedures regarding suspension/removal of a Chief Executive Officer of MDAs and in this case, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, was not followed.