The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation has queried the “excessive increase in administrative expenses” of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
The audit query, a copy of which was obtained by SHIPS & PORTS last week, demanded explanation from the management of NPA on why administrative expenses such the cost of insurance and licenses rose astronomically from N1.182 billion in 2016 to N3.809 billion in 2017, an increase by about 222.1 per cent, while “professional charges” rose more than ten folds from N638.482 million in 2016 to N7.208 billion in 2017, representing 1,029 per cent increase.
The Auditor General, Adolphus Aghughu, in the audit report dated May 24, 2021, also queried the rise in NPA’s “cost for repairs and maintenance” which increased from N209.044 million in 2016 to N1.039 billion in 2017, representing an increase of 397.3 per cent.
Based on the query, the Auditor General asked NPA to provide the list of items insured, insurance policies, budgetary provisions and reasons for the escalation of the cost in 2017 by 222.1 per cent for audit scrutiny.
The Auditor General also requested NPA to explain the nature of the professional services that gulped N7.208 billion in one year, as well as the names and addresses of the professional firms the money was paid to, and the report of professional services rendered.
Aghughu also asked the NPA management to explain, with breakdown, the increase in repairs and maintenance in 2017 to N1.039 billion from N209 million in 2016, giving a difference of N830.46 million (per cent increase of 397.3).
The Auditor General also accused NPA of under-remitting its operating surplus to the Federal Government by as much as N19 billion in 2017.
“It was observed on Page 15 of the Financial Statements that the operating surplus for the year 2017 was N76,782,268,000 and N42,414,819,000 was appropriated for the year.
“However, during vetting, it was discovered that the sum of N61,425,814,400 should have been the appropriate operating surplus to be transferred to Consolidated Revenue Fund using 80 per cent as a basis, hence an under remittance amounting to ₦19,010,995,000 be remitted without further delay.”
The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman was suspended on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 5 for alleged financial misdemeanour. The President appointed the agency’s Executive Director, Finance & Administration, Mohammed Bello-Koko as acting Managing Director pending the findings of an administrative panel of set up to probe her tenure.
The administrative panel, which has requested the staff of NPA, stakeholders and the general public to submit memoranda on the activities of the authority, has its terms of reference as follows: (i) examine and investigate the administrative policies and strategies adopted by the Management of Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with extant laws and rules from 2016 to May 2021; (ii) 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; (iii) examine and investigate compliance with the communication channel as obtains in the public service: (iv) examine and investigate the procurement of contracts from 2016 to May 2021; (v) determine the revenues, expenditures and remittances to government by NPA from 2016 to May, 2021 vis-à-vis Government Financial Regulations; (vi) come up with suggestions and advice that would strengthen the operations of Nigerian Ports Authority; and (vi) any other matter that may be necessary in the course of the assignment.