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NPA: Oshiomhole Faulted On Embezzlement Claim

Again, Governor Adams Oshiomhole Is Faulted Over Claims That Npa Remitted Only N2bn Of The N62bn It Made In One Single Year

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has been faulted over his latest allegation that the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) embezzled N160 billion out of the N162 billion it generated last year.

A stakeholders group in the sector, Maritime Stakeholders Association (MSA), speaking in a statement made available to The UNION in Lagos, said the allegation by Oshiomhole is without basis and as such cannot be true.

The Edo governor, who is now noted for making unsubstantiated financial claims, had while addressing labour leaders at the National Delegates’ Conference of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Abuja recently, alleged that the management of NPA generated some N162 billion in one year but remitted only N2bilion to federation account.

Oshiomhole had said the figures he quoted were from an official report. But putting a lie to the claim, the stakeholders group, in the statement signed by its President, Abdullahi Mohammed, described the allegation as “blatant lie, unfounded and strange”, adding that the amount remitted to the federation account was what was due to the federal government after deduction of lawful expenditures as provided for by law.

The group accused the Edo state governor of “seeking cheap publicity” adding that his claim was “another deliberate attempt by the governor to rubbish the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan despite transforms recorded in the sector by the past government”.

The Nigerian Ports Authority establishment law, quoted as Nigerian Ports Authority Act, Cap N126 LFN, 2004, empowers the agency “to construct, equip, operate and provide seaport services to the general public”. According to the statement, “In pursuance of the above, the Authority was given financial autonomy under section 13-14 of the Ports Act to apply its revenue towards carrying out the operations, development of ports, purchasing of equipment before remitting the surplus to government”, the source reminded.

“Section 14 (1) of the Ports Act allows the Authority to maintain a general reserve fund into which it sets aside appropriate amounts for replacement, contingencies and other purposes. The monies are to be applied for purposes of the Authority with the approval of the Minster as provided under section 14(2). However, with the coming into force of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the appropriations in respect of the Authority are approved by theNational Assembly by virtue of section 81 of the constitution.

“Section 15 allows the Authority to apply its surplus revenues for its own purposes as it may determine. With the coming into effect of the 1999 constitution, the surplus revenues of the Authority were made subject to the consolidated revenue fund established under section 81(1) of the constitution.

This supersedes section 15 of the ports Act in order to bring it in line with the constitution. “It should be noted that what is remitted is the revenue surpluses after meeting all operational, maintenance, development and administrative cost as appropriated by the National Assembly under section 81 of the constitution in each year .

The Authority therefore deals with the revenues only as appropriated. “It should be pointed out here that Section 162 (10) specifically stated that revenues to be remitted must be as authorized by law. “For the avoidance of doubt, the Authority prepares annual reports not later than six months after the end of each year and submit to the Minister (see section 21(1) and (2) of ports Act) .

It is only then that revenue surpluses are determined for remittance under the Fiscal responsibility Act when all cost as appropriated for it by the National Assembly must have been settled”, the source stated.

The stakeholders group noted also that because of the peculiarity of the industry, “the requirement to pay all revenues directly to the Federation Account is not practicable as at the point of collection from third parties, the monies are not yet revenues of the Authority until the service and all associated costs are covered”.

“As a global tradition the Port industry must conform to outlined safety and operating standards. Hence the need to ensure that all operating expenses are undertaken before surpluses are determined and remitted to the consolidated revenue fund. “The retention of revenue, as provided for by the law, has enabled the Authority to successfully execute its mandate as enunciated in the Federal Government port reforms.

This has resulted in the growth of the general cargo handling capacity in the Nation’s sea ports. “In addition to the general improvement of cargo, the Authority embarked on massive capital intensive projects in the areas of improved navigational safety, port infrastructures and information technology.

The amount spent on these projects to get the system going is colossal and deserves timely interventions as desired by the financial autonomy accorded to the Authority in the existing law”, the group further stated.

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