By Eric Elezuo
Investigations have revealed that prior to the emergence of Hajia Hadiza Usman as the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigeria ports were stinking of corruption. As a matter of fact, several underhand financial dealings have been discovered.
One of such is the huge debt running into billions of naira owed the agency by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its agents between 1992 and 2000, which were neither paid nor accounted for up to date.
Documents made available to the Boss revealed that huge debts, which are both in local and foreign currencies, were incurred by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from business transaction with the ports authority running into billions of naira, precisely N3, 815,963,056.41 and $801,307.69 during the period 1992 to 2007.
The findings, according to investigation, were revealed following the 2002 and 2005 reconciliation of NNPC indebtedness to NPA carried out by the then management of the ports authority.
The debts, investigation further revealed, were accrued from charges on oil vessels that berthed at jetties across the country, pilotage and other services rendered by the ports which the NNPC benefited from.
However, a reliable source within the ports authority told The Boss that the debts were swept under the carpet by successive managements of the ports authority over the years under questionable circumstances. Majorly, foreign vessels and agents were the biggest culprits in the shady deal as they owed the largest amount of the debt.
The break-down on a port by port basis of the indebtedness revealed that a total of N3, 113,759,560.22 and $755,777.30 were incurred at the Lagos port complex, making it the largest amount out of the said debt.
Of the over N3 billion owed at the Lagos port, Expo, a shipping agency owed N1, 806,276,786.12 between 1996 and 1998, and $755,777.30 between 1995 and 1999.
Schenker owed N1, 261,197,614.75 between 1994 and 1998 while NNPC/Daddo owed N4, 455,595.74 from 1992 to 1994, N5, 344,082.41, N31, 227,548.95 and N5, 257,932.25 in 1998, 1999 and 2000 respectively.
At the Port Harcourt port, the sum of N647, 594, 761.17 and $45, 530.39 debts were unaccounted for.
The breakdown of the amount showed that Expo owed N105,247,233.82 and $45,530.39 between 1995, 1997,1998 and 1999 while NNPC/Daddo were indebted to the tune of N1,163,873,54, N6,575,974.18, N10, 424,483.75 in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Another transaction in the years in review between the NPA and NNPC indicated that between 1993 and 1999(before appointment of agents), the sum of N521,864,004.88 were owed by NNPC, while a supplementary account for 1993 had the sum of N1,777,056.91 debt.
A subsidiary of NNPC, Nigerian Petroleum Refining Company, in 1993 also owed N542, 139.09.
In the report, the total sum of debt incurred at the Delta Port, Warri, amounted to N64, 398, 639.68.
Out of the said amount, the sum of N15, 640,812.55 was owed by Expo from 1996 to 1998. NNPC/Daddo, between 1998, 1999 and 2000, were indebted to the tune of N3, 851,343.28, N18, 176, 530.48 and N5, 615,797.49 respectively.
An old account between NNPC and NPA also revealed the sum of N32, 345,750.86.
“A further reconciliation exercise of NNPC/EXPO account in NPA Lagos port complex from 1995 to 1999 with available records as at March 22, 2005 showed that NNPC indebtedness to NPA amount to N1, 806, 276,786.12, which includes N15million paid by NNPC but did not reflect in NPA’S statement of account,” the report stated.
The above report is one of several questionable practices which were the order of the day at NPA.