An internal memo of the Nigerian Ports Authority dated January 24, 2020, and seen by SaharaReporters has shown how management of the agency had been siphoning public funds.
In the document with reference number: Ref: HQ/GM/C&SC/OP/VF/045 and addressed to the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, by the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication, Engr Adams Jatto, and titled: Review of airfare rates (local), the management could be seen engaging in sharp practices by jerking up the current rate of local airfares astronomically.
In the document, Jatto said, “The Division has observed the recent hike in prices of local tickets across the country.
“In view of the above and in order to keep abreast with reality of our times, it is hereby recommended that the rates for local flights be reviewed upwards accordingly as detailed below.”
Outlined on a table in the document, the NPA management proposed and approved between N180,000 to N320,000 for a return trip on business class depending on the state to be visited, and between N150,000 to N290,000 for a two-way journey on economy class subject to the route.
Despite this glaring inflated rates, the leadership of the NPA approved the amounts on January 28, 2020 – four days after the proposal was submitted.
However, findings by SaharaReporters indicated that a round trip airfare anywhere in Nigeria costs between N44, 000 and N75,000 regardless of airline and class of seat.
This means that on the lowest category of airfare rates approved by the NPA management, officials of the agency would pocket N75,000 per staff flying such trips.
On the highest fares approved, officials could rake in as much as N245,000 per staff that uses such facility.
When put together, this will run into several millions and even billions annually, further piling pressure on public treasury.
Over the years, the NPA has earned a notorious reputation as being one of Nigeria’s most corrupt agencies.
In 2009, Bode George, Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority from 2001 to 2003, was sentenced along with five other board members of the agency after being found guilty of charges including offering contracts beyond their approved limits.
In August 2017, the EFCC probed former officials of the NPA over a $20m bribe scam.
Despite the purported anti-corruption stance of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the NPA continues to be linked with all manners of corrupt practices.
Public Relations Officer of the Agency, Mr Kingsley Ukalabia, could not be reached for comments as called placed to his telephone number failed to connect on Sunday afternoon.
A text message sent on explanation on the contents of the document now in circulation was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.