By Ayo Fadimu
The battle of who will succeed the ailing Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 has shifted to the maritime sector as there are indications that Buhari may not contest in 2019 due to old age and advice from doctors to rest.
In order to sustain the position of the powerful cabals in the presidency, the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is being prepared for the job while a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is also jostling for the nation’s number one job.
While it is clear that El-Rufai is gunning for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket, Atiku on his part is still unstable and is contemplating on the platform to actualize his ambition although his media Adviser, Paul Ibe told Nigerian NewsDirect that Atiku is a bonafide member of APC.
Atiku, is one of the stakeholders in Intels. Apart from Intels, while the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Miss Hadiza Bala Usman is a loyalist of El-Rufai. She was the Chief of Staff of El-Rufai before her appointment as NPA MD. Before that, with the assistance of El-Rufai, she was the Administrative secretary of Buhari campaign organization and was also a one -time Special Assistant on Project implementation to El Rufai , then Minister of FCT, Abuja. She has also worked for the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) when El-Rufai was the Director General and caused an uproar when it was alleged that El-Rufai was then paying her in dollars as against naira by which other corp members were being paid.
In the latest feud between intels and NPA, Intels had alleged that NPA was owing $840 million and has subsequently pursued the payment by petitioning the National Assembly. But NPA claims Intels is not stating the truth that Intel has been sitting on its revenue amounting to about $952 million and another N3.3 billion. In a letter to the Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport, the Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, said Intels was indebted to the NPA at the Onne and Warri ports in respect of rents, lease and throughput fees.
She stated: “Intels has been collecting dues and charges on behalf of the agency since 2010. It is Intels that is rather indebted to NPA in respect of rents at its Onne base which currently stands at N3.3 billion.” The letter also stated: “The total agency commission to Intels computed in line with the executed agreement was $353 million for the period under review. This amount was deemed to have been deducted electronically from service boat revenue by Intels in accordance with subsisting agreement. The total sum of $68million is currently in Intels custody, pending the issuance of credit notes for project and finance costs.”
However, close observers of maritime sectors told Nigerian NewsDirect that the disagreement between the two organizations is more than economic interest but political interest.
“Intels is being hunted because of Atiku and the current MD of NPA is also an interested party. However, it will be disastrous for Nigeria’s economy if Intels is frustrated out of Nigeria in the face of harassment, intimidation and economic sanction” a maritime analyst told Nigerian NewsDirect.
Few months ago, Intels which has generated more than 200 million dollars to the coffers of the nation through NPA sacked more than 8000 workers due to harsh economic condition and might consider pruning its workforce if the current recession and feud with its regulator, NPA do not stop on time.
However, a close aide of Atiku said the former Vice-President should be separated from the faceoff between NPA and Intels.
“Atiku does not run Intels, the company has its separate management which is in charge of day to day running of the company while Atiku is just a shareholder like many other people” he said.
“I think what is required from both parties is reconciliation of accounts, which will show who is owing who and not media war as it is being done now”
All efforts to get reactions of both the General Manager, Public Affairs, NPA, Mr Mike Ajayi and Spokesman of Intels, SambolIsidor proved abortive as both men did not respond to text messages sent to them