The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has sought the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on ways to recover the authority’s N13.595 billion trapped in some commercial banks.
New Telegraph exclusively gathered that the Managing Director of NPA, Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman, along with the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mohammed Bello-Koko, met with the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, last week Tuesday in Abuja to explore the easiest means of retrieving the funds.
Sources privy to the meeting said that the NPA managing director briefed the governor on the challenges facing the authority following the trapped funds in some banks.
Although the managing directors of the affected banks were said to have sent letters to the apex bank about the trapped funds, Tuesday’s meeting was, however, convened to seek the apex bank’s intervention in facilitating the recovery of the funds.
The source said: “The NPA management, led by its MD, met in Abuja with Emefiele, during which Usman briefed the CBN governor on challenges facing the authority following the trapped funds.
The bank promised to step in and work with parties involved towards paying the money in a manner that will not cause threat to the health of the banks. “It is not that the banks cannot pay.
The banks offered to pay in three instalments, an arrangement the NPA is not comfortable with. The argument of the management is that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is a government policy that directed banks to move all government agencies’ deposits to the CBN, while the banks chose to hold on to the funds in their vaults.”
On assumption of duty last month, the Usman-led management discovered that about N13.595 billion belonging to NPA was trapped in three commercial banks. About $24.1 million (N9.399 billion at N390 to a dollar) of the sum was lodged with a new generation bank.
Nothing about the trapped funds was mentioned in the handover report given to the Usman-led management. Another trapped 6 million (N2.09 billion) is also in some banks.
The last tranche of $5.4 million (N2.106 billion) is in NPA’s TSA at CBN, although some top officials of NPA had feigned ignorance of its existence. These discoveries were unearthed by the new NPA management as part of its ongoing reform at the organisation.
The new team, which assumed duties on July 18, also discovered that NPA had been losing about $38 million (N14.820 billion). According to investigation, the NPA management has opened up discussions with the affected banks.
Meanwhile, the NPA boss has lauded the implementation of TSA across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, describing it as the best policy that ensures openness in the affairs of MDAs. Hadiza said TSA implementation came at the agenright time, saying that her agency was in total support of it. She spoke to New Telegraph in Abuja on the sideline of a sensitisation workshop on Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS) organised by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning for permanent secretaries and chief executives of government agencies on Monday.
“TSA is a very good policy, it is important to put all our revenues in one single account. And for us at NPA, we will ensure full compliance,” she noted. On what she considered the authority’s immediate challenges since she took over, the NPA boss said it would be premature to point at challenges, considering she was still on tour of port formations.
She said: “I am sure you have been following my visit to ports. I have just visited Calabar and some other places where I made some policy statements during my visit.” She also disclosed that the agency was not in a hurry to downsize, but would rather beef up its manpower by hiring more qualified hands in no distant time.