The Federal Government, is set to commence the probe of the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman on Monday, over alleged non-remittance of over N165 billion operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) by the NPA management under her leadership.
This is as some reports suggest that the administrative probe panel, headed by the Director of Maritime at the Federal Ministry of Transportation, may also expand the scope of its probe in accordance with the presidential approval to audit the accounts of NPA.
According to the Punch, documents sighted showed that the government discovered some discrepancies in the remittance of operating surpluses by the NPA to the Consolidated Revenue Fund for 2 consecutive years under the leadership of Bala-Usman.
The findings from the report indicated that a total of about N73.61 billion (N56.3 billion in 2017 and N17.31 billion in 2018), which was generated within the 2-year period was not remitted to the CRF as expected by the government, although the suspended NPA boss provided explanations to the contrary.
Also, the Federal Ministry of Transportation in a May 4, 2021 letter to the President claimed that the NPA failed to remit N165.32 billion to the CRF from 2016 to 2020 and called for an investigation and audit of the financial accounts of the authority.
The suspended NPA Managing Director responds to audit probe
In a letter, with reference to MD/17/MF/VOL-XX/541, dated May 5, 2021, and addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President, Bala-Usman said the NPA was aware of Buhari’s approval for the Federal Ministry of Transportation to conduct an audit of the accounts of the NPA and its remittances to the CRF.
The letter was entitled, “Re: Request for the record of remittance of operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Funds account by the Nigerian Ports Authority.”
In the letter, she explained that the audited financial statements of the NPA provided operating surpluses in 2017 and 2018 that were contrary to what was arrived at by the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President.
The letter stated that the presidential approval for the audit of the NPA accounts arose from a correspondence between the Budget Office of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Transportation in which the budget office observed a shortfall of the authority’s remittances to the CFR.
The letter read in part, “Audited financial statements of the authority for the period 2017 and 2018 provides operating surpluses of N76.782 billion and N71.480 billion for 2017 and 2018 respectively as contrary to the sums of N133.084 billion and N88.79 billion arrived at by your office from the budgetary submission.”
“We wish to state that the authority’s basis for arriving at the operating surplus on which basis the amount due for remittance to the CFR is guided by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 as amended.
It is further based on the statutory mandate Part 1, S.3(1) (b) &(d) whereby the FRC issued a template for the computation of operating surplus for the purpose of calculating amount due for remittance to the CRF.
Accordingly, the figures so provided by the Budget Office of the Federation as the operating surplus for the respective years on which basis they arrived at the shortfall are derived from submission of budgetary provision not the actual amounts derived following the statutory audit of the authority’s financial statements.”
She argued that in line with the template issued by the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, the accessible operating surplus of the authority stood at N51.09 billion and N42.51 billion for 2017 and 2018 respectively.
“This amount will give rise to a remittance due to the CFR in the sum of N40.873 billion and N34.065 billion representing 80 percent of the surpluses for the year 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Accordingly, the authority consequently made a remittance of N42.415 billion and N33.969 billion for the years 2017 and 2018 respectively for the full amount required as remittance for the period.”
Bala-Usman also noted, “But thus far, the authority has made a remittance of N31.683 billion for the 2019 remittance. The sum of N51.049 billion has also thus far been remitted for 2020 while awaiting the audited financial statement to determine the final amount required for both 2019 and 2020 at which point the authority will make the payment of the balance as required.’’
She stated that based on the above, the authority wished to clarify that the computation of its remittances to the CFR was concluded from audited financial statements using the template forwarded to the authority from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and not budgetary provision.