The Banana Peel is regarded as something on which a person may slip and fall. It is a figurative warning for those who occupy positions to avoid it or fall into humiliation on account of it.
Most people who are familiar with her emergence as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) are not likely to be surprised about the suspension of Hadiza Bala-Usman last week by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While her appointment as NPA’s first female CEO in 2016 didn’t elicit any known opposition, but surprises, her reappointment even six months before the expiration of the first tenure sent shocks and created panic in some quarters.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in January re-appointed Hadiza Bala Usman as Managing Director of NPA, for another five years. This, unfortunately, is the beginning of her travails and eventual suspension.
She is publicly known as having the ears of President Buhari, so what went wrong?
As expected, Hadiza’s alleged infractions are coming to the media space, and they are a legion. From alleged abuse of corporate ethics to alleged non-remittal of revenue, and contract splitting., she has been accused of several others.
The first letter that surfaced was the one written by Minister of Transportation; Mr Rotimi Amaechi to the President, titled; “Remittance of Operating Surplus To The Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) Account By Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from 2016 – Date”.
The letter out rightly accused the suspended NPA Managing Director of not accounting for outstanding unremitted balance of over N165billion for the period 2016 to 2020. After this, other letter have also surfaced
In her defence which she sent to the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President and which also in public domain, Hadiza argued that, NPA, under her watch had remitted all that were due as Consolidated Federation Revenue, as stipulated in the fiscal responsibility Act of 2007.
Yes, a panel has been constituted to probe her. We can comfortably predict that she will be found guilty and she may not return to the NPA!
As its typical of any CEO who has stepped on a Banana peel, more allegations are likely to surface in days to come.
We confirm that, the panel will go beyond the allegation of non-remittance into Federation Account. It will look into award of contracts. It will also look at the Accountant General Annual Audit Report for 2017, which was released in 2019 and which raised questions over N7.5 billion contracts that were allegedly not properly accounted for. She will be drilled to helplessness!
The panel to try her is headed by the Director of Maritime Services (DMS) in the Federal Ministry of Transportation, with whom she has had issues.
So, what did Hadiza do wrong and whom did she offend for her to be sent packing from the sixth floor of the magnificent corporate head office of the NPA in Lagos? The simple truth is that she mismanaged relationship and deluded herself to be untouchable.
If her offences were just that she didn’t remit into Federation Account or contract splitting or financial infractions, she will not be so sacrificed by her supervisory Minister. She would have been ‘protected. In Nigeria, they all do it! Bring out a CEO in any government agency, who is completely free of all the allegations leveled against Hadiza, we will show you a saint!
The Banana Peel that Hadiza stepped on, are in the manner of her ascendancy to become the helmsman at the NPA, the way she carried on during her first tenure, her relationship with the NPA board and the Executive Management. Most importantly is the manner in which she secured her second term.
It is an open secret that, the suspended NPA MD was accused of allegedly bypassing the Minister of Transportation in some important procurement matters, and other issues.
It is also an open secret that, the manner in which the new board of the NPA was reconstituted without the Minister’s input smeared the relationship with the suspended MD.
It is not so much about the alleged infractions. The Banana peel are the personalities connected to her office as NPA MD. These personalities are found in the Governor who nominated her for the job, it’s also found in the Minister whose responsibility it is to supervise her. It is also found in the Directorate level at the Ministry of Transportation. Finally, the infamous Banana peel is rooted in the management which she headed.
Perhaps, the most dangerous peel is when an insider is interested in the job of the CEO. There is a history of such in the NPA. It was in public domain that Engr Omar Suleiman was interested in becoming the Managing Director of NPA, even there were denials of such intent. But eventually, he upstaged his CEO; Alhaji Habib Abdulahi.
Prior to last week when his name came up as Hadiza’s replacement, the name Mohammed Koko (Executive Director, Finance and Admin) had been rumoured in many quarters as eyeing his boss’s job. But, there was no evidence.
The lesson to learn here is that, appointments such as this, are at the discretion of some persons. To last in such offices, the first lesson is to avoid the Banana Peel!