President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly suspended Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Ms Bala-Usman, an ally of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, was first appointed as the NPA MD in 2016.
Confirming the suspension to newsmen, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said the development was to allow for investigation into allegations against her.
Shehu who noted that Mohammed Koko has been appointment as MD in acting capacity, however did not disclose reasons behind the suspension of Ms Bala-Usman.
Neither did he disclose details of the allegations against Ms Bala-Usman.
Notwithstanding the development has been linked to the alleged face-off between Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, and Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
Officials at the NPA praised Ms Bala Usman as “highly competent and innovative” in her leadership role, but said her long-running battle with Rotimi Amaechi ultimately led to her removal from office.
“The minister removed her because he could not intimidate or control her,” an official said under anonymity. “It is unfortunate that the minister has now sacrificed competence for undue loyalty.”
Officials said Messrs Koko and Amaechi are allies, but the minister was able to easily promote the finance director because it was a choice that appealed to the president’s sentiment.
“Amaechi knew that the president would be indifferent as long as the replacement is a northerner,” the official said.
Heritage Times also gathered that Amaechi and El-Rufai are at loggerheads over the 2023 presidency.
A source close to the government said he was not surprised that Usman’s removal is being connected to the Amaechi – El-Rufai feud.
“Hadiza’s removal could be a result of their disagreement. I heard some information about it today and it could get messy.
“My take is that as the head of the ministry that supervises the NPA, Amaechi might have recommended the suspension of Hadiza. Whatever is happening will be clear in a matter of days.
“I don’t think it’s entirely politics or a witch hunt. I believe some infractions perpetrated were presented to the President”, he added.
El-Rufai appointed the embattled NPA boss in 2015 as his Chief of Staff. In July 2016, Buhari appointed her as NPA MD, after nomination by the governor.
In March 2020, the President denied Amaechi’s ally, Dakuku Peterside, a second term as Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Buhari replaced him with Bashir Jamoh, the former Executive Director, Administration and Finance. Some analysts blamed El-Rufai for Peterside’s fate.
Heritage Times learnt Jamoh is the father of the wife of Tunde Sabiu, Personal Assistant to the President.
Amaechi had ensured Peterside got the APC governorship ticket for Rivers in 2015, but the latter lost to Governor Nyesom Wike.
With Buhari in office, Amaechi successfully pushed Peterside’s nomination for NIMASA, an agency also under his ministry.