The Senate has summoned the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman over the non-payment of N1.16 billion voted for the payment of the retirees’ gratuity in 2018.
It has therefore mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the matter and report back to the upper chamber.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, who spoke with journalists after the committee’s sitting yesterday said the Red Chamber will not condone any act of short changing the retirees of their entitlements.
He stated that the committee has extended invitation to the NPA Managing Director as well as the board members to appear before it by February 4 to explain why they decided to hold back the fund allocated for the retirees.
He said: “The Board Chairman, MD and Board Secretary of NPA and its entire Board members are to appear before the Committee on the February 4, 2021 at 1p.m prompt at Senate hearing room 120, to come and explain the rationale behind their illegal act to deliberately deny the retirees of their legitimate gratuity entitlements amounting to N1,160,732,309.43 covering the period of January 1 to July 11, 2018”.
Akinyelure further stated “It is highly embarrassing that NPA board will sit in their boardroom and alter a budget, which has already been passed by the National Assembly and signed into law of Federal Republic of Nigeria, thereby shortchanging these helpless retirees with high level of impunity”.
The committee had earlier considered a petition brought before it by one Isa Usman Kunini and three others on behalf of 126 other ex-workers of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) versus Nigerian Ports Authority, over the non-payment of a significant portion of their gratuity by the NPA after their retirement in 2018.
The petitioners had requested the Senate to look into the matter by urging the NPA management to include the sum of N1, 160, 732, 309.43 being the outstanding amount that accurued to the ex-officers in the 2020 budget for immediate payment.
Kunini led the presentation of the retirees’ petition before the committee while the NPA management was not represented.
After the presentation, the committee Chairman, Senator Akinyelure declared that the Senate will never support alteration of budget figures already appropriated by any ministry or parastatal.
His words: “This Committee, which is the Ombudsman of the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria and voice of the voiceless Nigerians in the upper chamber of the National Assembly under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Lawan, would no longer sit back and allow any government agency and parastatals to alter the implementation budget as passed by the National Assembly under the guise of board approval contrary to Appropriation Act signed into law by the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria”.