Nigeria: Stakeholders Bemoans Bala-Usman's Suspension

(file photo).
17 May 2021

Stakeholders in the nation's maritime sector have lamented the alleged lack of adherence to due process in the suspension of the embattled Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman.

The stakeholders who spoke in separate interviews said the suspension was unjustified, describing it as a setback for women inclusion in the maritime sector.

The suspension, they added, could slow down the reforms made so far in the industry.

The stakeholders also opined that the suspended MD should have been giving fair hearing urging that she should not be rubbished out of office for individual political interest.

Speaking with maritime with newsmen in Lagos, the immediate past President of Women's International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA), Mary Hamman explained that due process ought to have been followed in the suspension of Bala-Usman as Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority.

According to the former WISTA President, "The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said he is not aware of what is going on in the NPA since 2016, and that's why he set up that 11-man panel. To me, it's good for the suspended Managing Director because if her hands are clean, she will be exonerated. If otherwise, then she will face the music."

She added, "The only aspect I frown at is her not being queried before getting suspended. I am a retired civil servant and think that in line with civil service rules, she should have been queried first, and allowed to respond to the query before any action will then be taken on her situation.

"They should have followed due process because before you say somebody should go on suspension, she ought to have first being queried and allowed to respond to the query. Her tenure has just being renewed, so without allowing her to know what she has done wrong and even given the opportunity to respond before suspension shows a lack of due process."

Also speaking on the development, the Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Dr. Osita Chukwu described the suspension as unjustified.

He said the suspension was a ridicule on the nation's maritime sector especially now that Nigeria is recording gains among comity of nations due to her reform processes.

Osited posited that Bala-Usman has been making steady progress in the sector and does not deserve such treatment from the Nigerian government, especially when the allegations has not been substantiated.

"If an allegation is made, you should allow the person to defend herself rather than suspending her. This suspension is to ridicule the whole maritime sector. "For me, it's a very unfortunate situation. We were thinking that NPA has arrived taking cognizance of what the woman is putting in place. She has been the one making moves to reform the industry.

"A lot of things that were not done before now were now being done, take for example, the automation and seamless operations of the NPA. If they just push her out like that, I see a setback to the reforms. Despite several intimidations, she has continued with her work. Even during the EndSars protest, she did not relent, only for her to be rewarded this way, "he bemoaned.

Also speaking, the President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Increase Uche, said Bala-Usman's removal was a setback to campaign for women inclusion in government and the maritime industry in particular.

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