With a debt profile in excess of N1.17 billion from the Calabar Port alone, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has vowed to block all revenue leakages in the company, while also pursuing huge debtors including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), terminal operators, and a host of others.
NNPC alone owes the Calabar Port about N152 million, even as it was gathered that it owes the Authority N5 billion. Calabar Port total debt profile for nine years also includes outstanding of N397 million operational, N293 million Estate and $1.5 million terminal operations.
Usman, said her administration is currently assessing the debt profile and determined to aggressively pursue all its debtors to recoup the money as soon as possible.
She said: “We have a huge debt profile and with NNPC in particular. Indeed NNPC owes NPA and quite a number of agencies also owe us. We are assessing that and we will process it with aggressive recovery of everything that is due to us. Some of the terminal operators are also owing, we will be very strict with monitoring and compliance and ensure that the terminal operators pay as at when due and everything that NPA is owed, we will aggressively recover it.”
On the revenue leakages, Usman said: “One of the critical mandates I have is blocking revenue leakages. By doing this, we are going to ensure that whatever financing measures we are going to put in place are appropriate to prevent any situation where the Federal Government is shortchanged in the lease agreement and concession agreements among other with a view to ensure that government is not shortchanged.
“There are many areas of revenue leakages that are of human intervention. We seek to ensure that we deploy Information Technology (IT), which will prevent human interference in data and reduce issues of human manipulations and inadequate data provisions. My administration will ensure this as we move towards implementing single window,” she said.
Usman also expressed concern over joint venture agreements on dredging projects, stressing the need to launch a probe into the spending and further review of the dredging contracts.
She said: “This is a very fundamental thing. In fact our meeting with the Calabar Channel Management further highlighted the need to look at it critically, because some of the funds expended in capital dredging is not translating to the amount of money when it comes to maintenance dredging. So, the cost of dredging maintenance should not be that high. With the data we are having, I think Calabar channel will determine the way we will embark upon other joint ventures as related to dredging.
“It is something that I see constantly and we believe that it is a good time to have flashlight on capital dredging versus maintenance dredging and see how come they spend that amount of money and where it is going to,” she said.
The NPA boss however denied reports of sacking workers, explaining that the Authority is rather planning to employ new hands, while also noting that NPA has quite a number of ageing workforce and that her administration is putting in place mechanisms to develop knowledge transfer.
“They have good knowledge about the operations and transaction and we believe these should be transferred to younger officers. We would embark upon recruitment; we have been working on it but awaiting approval,” she said.