By Godwin Oritse
INTELS Nigeria Limited has alleged that the current management of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, deliberately frustrated attempts to address the issues raised by introduction of Treasury Single Account, TSA, in the execution of its pilotage agency agreement.
INTELS said the issues arose because the pilotage agency agreement signed in 2010 did not envisage TSA, and as such did not factor it in its implementation.
INTELS spokesman, Bolaji Akinola, stated in a statement obtained by Vanguard that series of meetings, letters and proposals on how to resolve the TSA imbroglio were rebuffed by the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman.
“Deliberate stumbling blocks were placed on the path of resolving the issues and this is indicative of a sinister motive,” INTELS spokesman, Bolaji Akinola said in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
However, reacting swiftly, Cheif Executive Officer of NPA, Hadiza Usman, said boats pilotage monitoring and supervision contract with INTELS Nigeria Limited remained terminated.
The NPA boss told newsmen in Lagos, yesterday, that the contract was terminated on the advice of the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minster of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami.
According to her, the legal advice was contained in an AGF’s letter dated September 27, 2017, which was a response to NPA’s May 31, 2017 letter in which it sought clarity on the matter.
Usman said she had raised letters and held several meetings with INTELS management to comply with the Federal Government’s directive on the Treasury Single Account, TSA, since she assumed office 15 months ago.
She said: “They (INTELS) maintained their stand not to make payment to NPA. They want to deduct 28 per cent commission and other costs.
“NPA says a TSA account has been opened and that at the end of the month, there will be reconciliation of accounts but INTELS refused.
“Will I spend 15 months talking to a company to comply with the constitution of the country?” she asked.
Usman explained that all further attempts by the NPA to get the company obey the payment directive was met with excuses.
She said the NPA management would proceed on a transitional arrangement to engage another firm.
On fear of job losses, the managing director said the workers would be absorbed by any entity that took up the job.
On repair of port access roads, Usman said she had sent so many letters to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to provide clarity on budgetary provisions for the port access roads.
Similarly, she said the bad state of Ikom bridge in Cross River State had not allowed containers to move to the northern part of the country.
The managing director, however, said it was not under the purview of the NPA to provide N1.8 billion for the rehabilitation of port access roads.
On the controversial contract on buoys, she said that the NPA management had discovered concerned officers that misguided the authority on the contract.
“We need buoys. We are going to buy more buoys.
“We hope that the controversy will be resolved to enable the firm – Marina Energy- to continue,” she said.
But speaking further, Akinola said that on May 5, 2017, INTELS sent a letter to NPA proposing the opening of a jointly signed account between the company and NPA on which the boat service revenues would have been directed, but noted that this proposal, like many others, was rebuffed.
He also faulted claims by NPA that the contract was terminated based on the advise of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
“At what point are revenues eligible to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund? NPA acting on behalf of the Federal Government entered into a profit sharing agreement with INTELS. 72% of the revenue goes to NPA while 28% is for INTELS.
“The objective interpretation of the Constitution should be that the revenue due to the Federation should be the 72 per cent due to NPA,” he said.
Akinola also said that NPA could not fault INTELS in the execution of the contract, “which we handled most diligently”.
According to him, “INTELS faithfully implemented the covenants of the agency agreement and also substantially boosted government revenue.
“We took the pilotage service from a revenue stream of a few thousand dollars per month to a multimillion dollars per month service hence attracting the envy of many.”
The company also said that the persecution it is currently facing is “rather unfortunate” and will certainly not stand the test of time.
The INTELS spokesman said those who criticize the company’s operation are “either ignorant or plain mischievous” of the company’s monumental achievements and value addition to the Nigerian economy.
He said the present management of NPA is pandering to the antics of the company’s detractors at the expense of government revenue, huge investments and several jobs, contrary to the position of fairness and objectivity that it should have adopted.
“It is clear that there is more to all these than the TSA issue because all our attempts to resolve the TSA imbroglio met with brick wall. There was no sincere or genuine desire to address the issue. What was evident was a clear case of giving a dog a bad name to justify hanging it,” he added.
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