Habib Abdullahi: One man, twice lucky

Until December 16 2011, Mallam Habib Abdullahi was the General Manager, London office of Nigerian Ports Authoruty (NPA) but when the Federal Government relieved Ms. Aina Egharevba (Marine and Operations), Engineer Yusuf Haruna (Engineering and Technical Services) and Mr. Tola Atekoja (Finance and Administration) of their appointments as Executive Director of NPA, the baton fell on the most senior General Managers in the three departments to serve as Acting Execuitve Directors.

Habib Abdullahi was subsequently redeployed from London to serve as Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration.

Sources close to him said he was displeased with the redeployment and protested vehemently. He was content serving the organization and his fatherland in London. Other Acting Executive Directors, appointed alongside Abdullahi include Shotonye Etomi (Marine and Operations) and Sunny Nwobi (Engineering and Technical Services). Of the trio, Habib Abdullahi is the last man standing as the others have since retired from service.

By August 2012, the Federal Government was shopping for a new NPA Managing Director to replace Engr. Omar Suleiman. Abdullahi emerged the favoured one and was handed to the NPA top job on 12th August 2012.

By early 2014, Abdullahi had fallen out with the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar and the Minister reportedly vowed to throw him out of office at all cost.

Umar recommended one of his own assistants, Ali Ndabawa as Abdullahi’s replacement. As fate would have it, the day former President Goodluck Jonathan signed the memo approving Ndabawa’s appointment was the day former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) strongman and then NPA Board Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih coincidentally visited the Presidential villa.

“Chief, it is good to see you. In fact I have just signed the letter approving a new MD for NPA,” Jonathan reportedly told a bewildered Anenih.

“No Mr. President, you can’t do that to me. I think you should have at least conferred with me as the Board Chairman before removing the present MD. What did the young man do to warrant such treatment?” Anenih queried.

And that was it. The President called for the memo and cancelled Ndabawa’s appointment. Habib Abdullahi’s job was saved.

But he wasn’t as luck on April 29, 2015 as Jonathan, smarting from a major electoral defeat by General Muhammadu Buhari and at the instance, again, of Idris Umar, signed a memo removing Abdullahi; replacing him with a fellow Kano indigene and prince – Sanusi Lamido Ado Bayero.

Abdullahi quickly handed over the reigns of office to Bayero and returned to London – living the quite life, away he so much cherishes.

But destiny had a surprise in store for him as President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday last week asked him to return to his duty post.

Buhari terminated Ado Bayero’s two months reign at the NPA House, Marina, Lagos “with immediate effect”.

A statement by the presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina on Thursday directed Bayero to hand over the management of the NPA and all government property in his possession to Abdullahi.

The President also wished Bayero well in his future endeavours.

No one has been as lucky as Mallam Habib Abdullahi and what he makes of his second coming as NPA helmsman will be seen over time as he formally takes over from the man he handed over to, two months ago.


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