NPA: Audit Report Accuses MD, Hadiza Bala Usman Of Financial Recklessness, To Refund N5 Billion
Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has been asked to refund the sum of N5.18 billion following an audit of the activities of her agency by the office of Auditor General of the Federation, AGF.
The audit report which accused her of administrative arbitrariness, financial recklessness and a disdain for due process, said the inflated contracts and operational expenses by over N5.18 billion within two years.
The fraud was uncovered following an audit query of activities of the agency between 2016 and 2018.
The audit report also accused the NPA’s Managing Director of gross “betrayal of public trust” as demonstrated by her flagrant abuse for due process in the way and manner she runs the agency.
Highlights of the damning report, which was published in the current edition of the Shipping World Magazine, include her refusal to remit VAT deductions running into billions of naira and in foreign currency denominations to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
For instance, the query highlighted unremitted deduction to FIRS to include N3,667,750,470, $148,845,745.04, Euro 4,891,449.50 and £252,682.14.
The NPA under Hadiza Bala Usman was also accused of “excessive increase in administrative operational expenses” extra budgetary expenditures on hotel accommodation and under disclosure of expenditures on hotel expenses”, Corporate Social Responsibility Projects, diversion of funds through the Nigerian Port Today and sponsorship of National Assembly Programmes, amongst others.
The audit team reviewed the Authority’s policy on implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility Projects/ Programmes and discovered that records relating to CSR fell short of the level of compliance with the Public procurement Act 2007.
In 2016, the NPA spent N286,412,628.00 on CSR while in 2017, the figure rose to N2,496,248,775.00 and N5billion in 2018. The report noted that “beneficiary needs were not properly assessed or identified before the implementation of CSR projects/ programmes.”
The Audit team also made the shocking discovery that there was no evidence of compliance with public procurement Act and that most of the CSR projects/ programmes were inflated.Delivery of CSR items were not accompanied with delivery letters and that in most cases, there was no evidence of actual items delivered and who signed for them.
For instance while a contract with Ref. HQ/GM/PROC/CON/C.11/PBT/16/322 dated 16/10/17 was awarded in favour of Messrs Ecomaxx Engineering Projects Ltd for the supply of items to the old people’s Home Yaba, Lagos to the tune of #19,760,460.00 which was paid vide invoice no HQ/CS/0711 dated 01/06/17, there was no documentary evidence that the items were indeed delivered to the Home.
In the same vein, the contract for supply of items to Yaba Children’s Orphanage followed the same pattern. For instance, whilst a contract awarded in favour of Trans-secure Ltd was #19,467,000.00 the survey conducted by the audit team found out that #6,520,500.00 was the actual market price.
The team accordingly ordered that the sum of #5.18 billion be recovered from Bala Usman being the value of “inflated amount under her watch.”
It was also observed that total expenditure by the Authority increased astronomically by 128% from #87.47 billion in 2016 to #198.98 billion in 2017 without any justifiable explanation. Of particular concern was the administrative expenses which increased by 72% from #26.126 billion in 2016 to #44.93 billion in 2017.
For instance that whereas in 2016 N22.16 billion was expended on revenue monitoring, the amount rose to a whopping N1.06 billion in 2017, an increase of over 4,689%. Similarly, overseas training rose from N20.48 million in 2016 to N470 million, an increase of over 2194%. Also, whereas N15.31 million was spent on vessels / craft in 2016, the amount rose to N117.4 million in 2017, an increase of 666%.
The excessive expenditure of pollution control also attracted the scrutiny of the auditors who insisted that Bala Usman must tell Nigerians why and how N4.2 billion was spent in 2017 as against N29 million in 2016, an increase of 14,310 %. Other over bloated increase in expenditure include local and foreign medical expenses, legal fees, Corporate souvenirs and expenditure on other government agencies which rose from N50.29 million in 2016 to N338.59 million in 2017, a 573 per cent rise.
The report also queried various expenditure incurred by the NPA on behalf of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi for which a whopping $604,598.95 was paid without supporting documents. Hadiza Bala Usman was asked to refund the said sum into government treasury.