NPA saga: ‘Hadiza disobeyed Buhari’s order on LADOL’

Alarm: Hadiza controlling NPA communication channels from suspension
Hadiza Bala-Usman

For the suspended managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, doesn’t rain…it pours.

Since the announcement of her suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari last week, various allegations have surfaced against her, giving indications as to why she may have been suspended.

Fresh reasons emerging on the Hadiza suspension centers on gross insubordination to superior government officials, specifically President Muhammadu Buhari who the National Mail learnt in June 2020 waded into the land lease agreement dispute between the NPA and Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL). The NPA, under Bala-Usman’s watch, had terminated the 25-year lease agreement the between the NPA and LADOL.

It was disclosed that President Buhari had directed the Bala-Usman-led NPA to comply with the Federal Government’s approval of a 25-year lease agreement with LADOL, meaning the land agreement be restored.

This Presidential order, which was disobeyed by the suspended NPA helmsman, was conveyed in a letter the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), sent to the NPA, via a letter dated June 3, 2020, titled: “Re: Brief on the LADOL Free Zone Disputes and the Need for the Federal Government to Intervene Urgently.”

The letter, addressed to government agencies reads: “I wish to refer to a letter Ref No. PRES/97/HAGF/93 dated May 27, 2020 from the State House, Abuja and to convey Mr. President’s directive as follows: “That NPA complies with Mr. President’s subsisting approval for 25 years lease covering 114,552 hectares granted to Messrs. Global Resources Management Limited (GRML) in 2018.

“That all relevant agencies comply with the legal opinion attached hereto which is geared towards resolving the dispute, restoring investor confidence to the industry and bringing NPA’s actions in conformity with the extant laws and federal government’s policy on local content. Accept the assurance of my warm regards, please.”

Ms Bala-Usman had revoked the lease agreement with the firm via a letter dated November 14, 2019 and addressed to the Managing Director of Global Resources Management Limited (GRML), the parent company of LADOL. The letter was signed by NPA’s General Manager in charge of Land and Asset Administration, Mr. Yusuf Ahmed.

Another rather very contentious issue Bala-Usman had was her violation of an agreement with a stakeholder in the sector: the decommissioning of the BUA Ports Terminals Port Harcourt, Rivers state.

While the suspended MD of the NPA caused a “Notice of Termination” to be issued to BUA, interestingly, the NPA failed to abide with the provisions of the Lease Agreement, especially the dispute resolution provisions. The agreement provides that certain steps must be taken where there is a dispute which if cannot be resolved amicably, then the matter should be referred to arbitration.

BUA, in the process, had revealed that the NPA actually failed to carry out any of its own obligations under the Agreement, which obligations are necessary and required for a concomitant obligation by for any meaningful reconstruction. For instance, under the agreement, the NPA has the specific obligation to dredge the ports, repair, renew, rebuild the quay walls and provide security for the terminals. It did not do any of these.

A high ranking source in BUA revealed that it was the failure of the NPA to provide the required security that led to the nefarious activities of hoodlums and vandals who over a period of time cut the pipes and steel beams of the berths thereby affecting their stability and consequently making remedial works imperative.

“As a matter of fact, within three months of Ms. Bala Usman assuming office, she went to Port Harcourt and in her haste to stop BUA, the Hadiza Bala Usman led NPA immediately terminated the contract without any recourse to the provisions of the lease agreement, which does not grant her or the NPA such powers. As a responsible corporate citizen, which appreciates the coercive powers of the NPA as an agency of Government, BUA approached the Federal High Court for the protection of its rights and investments. The court dutifully granted an injunction restraining the NPA from giving effect to the Notice of Termination and also ordered parties to proceed to arbitration in accordance with the terms of the Agreement.  In essence, NPA was enjoined to await the outcome of the arbitration proceedings,” BUA said in a public statement.

BUA further alleged that the NPA and its MD, upon realising their grave error, initiated arbitration proceedings as stipulated in the lease agreement. However, while the arbitration process is still ongoing, the Hadiza Bala Usman led NPA has once again disregarded the entire judicial process and went ahead to decommission the terminal allegedly based on the contents of a letter we wrote to the NPA seeking to perform remedial works  on some parts of the terminal that were vandalised.


The failure of Bala-Usman’s NPA to follow dispute resolution options as enshrined in agreements it reached with partners has done the Authority more harm than good. For instance, the agency has been enmeshed in avoidable litigations which may not end in government favour and also incurring costs. It has also taken its toll on investors’ confidence.