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Amaechi romances Atiku with INTELS/NPA deal over his vice presidential ambition – Report

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Amaechi romances Atiku with INTELS/NPA deal over his vice presidential ambition - Report
Atiku and Amaechi

The Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi ’s alleged 2023 vice presidential ambition is the reason for his recent battles against the suspended managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, Per Second News is reporting.

Usman was suspended as part of a supposed move to allow independent audit of the accounts and remittance of the agency, but findings have shown the action to have had more to it than meets the eye.

This newspaper further learnt that the minister’s quest for his actualisation of a long-standing political ambition may be responsible for the preference of the restoration of all business relationships between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Integrated Logistics Nigeria Limited (INTELS) which might have allegedly led to the suspension of the NPA boss.

Sources told this newspaper over the weekend that by working for the restoration of INTELS contracts, the minister may have tried to kill two birds with one stone – building a financial war chest and worming himself back into the heart of former President Atiku Abubakar, who still aspires to contest for the presidency in 2023 and may be disposed to consider Ameachi as running mate, all things being equal. It is curious that the minister who was President Buhari’s two-time campaign director-general is now the main promoter of INTELS, a company owned by Atiku Abubakar, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart. 

Sources further told our correspondent that although Atiku recently announced his divestment from INTELS, it was all a ploy to hoodwink Nigerians.

“I can bet that he is still involved in the company. This was only a gimmick coming from the belief that government wanted to ruin his business interests, but all NPA wanted was just compliance with the laws. Why aren’t there problems on their other businesses for instance? The boat pilotage brings in a lot of money, but the contract has expired after a 15-year period, they were allowed to participate in the tenders, got disqualified for flouting the rules but the minister does not seem to want to hear that, ” a source familiar with the matter said Friday.

Recall that while inaugurating the administrative panel set up to probe the management of the NPA penultimate week, Amaechi had urged the panel to “examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of pilotage and other contracts of Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court rulings and presidential directives.”

Before the inauguration of the panel, managing director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman was asked to proceed on suspension to pave way for the investigation. Multiple sources in the know of the undercurrents between the minister and the NPA maintained that the main concern of the minister is the multi-million-dollar pilotage contract, which INTELS executed for the NPA since 2005.

The relationship was punctuated by numerous altercations since the Hadiza Bala Usman management took over affairs at the NPA in 2016 until it came to a terminal end in August 2020.

Disagreements between the two parties centred mainly on claims by the NPA that the company failed to comply with Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the government. There was also the NPA’s decision to break the monopoly of INTELS as the only oil and gas terminal in the country, a decision, which is believed to have been applauded by operators in the sector.

Our correspondent learnt that the minister had, following a presidential approval sometime earlier this year, requested the restoration of all contracts between the NPA and INTELS, which were hitherto suspended or terminated by the NPA. The agency was also directed to withdraw all court cases involving both parties. Bala Usman was said to have escalated the issue to President Muhammadu Buhari, providing more facts and insisting that the pilotage contract was not terminated but had expired by effluxion of time, which inspired the latter to seek the advice of the Attorney-General of the Federation. However, sources close to the minister suggested that his main anger resulted from Ms Bala Usman’s presentation of superior facts to the Presidency without his knowledge or approval.

This newspaper also gathered that the key thing is that Bala Usman was in the way of the plan to prepare the grounds for Amaechi’s 2023 ambition, which may include the possibility of leaving the All Progressives Congress (APC) if the party becomes too difficult to handle given the fact that Buhari would no longer be standing for elections, which will make the contest a free-for-all. ”This will not be too good for Ameachi who is not well liked by most party stalwarts including state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly, a south west APC,” leader said.

“The calculation is that even the PDP will implode given the controversy surrounding Atiku’s candidacy and the opposition of people like Governor Nyesom Wike to it. Then, that popular ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ philosophy will come in and Atiku and Ameachi may emerge in a calculation that is bound to shock many Nigerians.”  The minister may also benefit from his relationship with the Chinese in the preparation for this almighty 2023 ambition, said the party stalwart who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

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