From being the Chief of Staff to the Kaduna State Governor to becoming a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption and onward to the Nigerian Ports Authority as its Managing Director, Hadiza Bala-Usman has not only shown that competence is not gender-defined, but she has also shown that a moribund system can still work if the right people with the right mindset can be employed to revive it.
After 4 years of meritorious and excellent stewardship at the Nigerian Ports Authority, Ms. Bala-Usman was reappointed into the same position by President Buhari for another and continuous 4-year term.
Since her reappointment in January 2020, Bala-Usman has not reneged on her mission to reform the Nigerian Ports Authority and make the agency a lot more efficient than it already is.
With a setback in October 2020 when the revenue-generating agency incurred more than a billion Naira losses to hoodlums who took advantage of the #EndSARS protests in the country, the management of the NPA under Hadiza Bala-Usman was shaken as 317 of the agency’s computers as well as photocopiers, were looted among other office equipment.
Apart from the office equipment looting, A total of 27 vehicles, including cars, utility vehicles, pick-up vans, and staff buses were set on fire, while 33 other vehicles, 22 of which belong to members of staff were vandalized. A Toyota Prado SUV, a Bajaj Motorcycle, and one Hilux patrol van were also stolen from the premises.
Shaken but undeterred, Hadiza Bala Usman instantly swung into action by conducting an integrity test on the area that was burnt to determine how safe it is for NPA personnel to go to the other wing of the building because they are linked.
Having made sure that NPA properties are properly insured, Hadiza immediately sought the help of the Federal Government to close the gap left during the repair especially for areas that were not covered by insurance.
One step at a time, the NPA management pulled itself together to rebuild a post-crisis work environment as Hadiza Bala-Usman earmarked N807million for the rehabilitation of the burnt portion of the agency’s building.
Hadiza who was one of Financial Times’ most influential women of 2014, CNN’s most inspiring woman of 2014, and Ebony Magazine amongst the 2014 100 most influential black women in the world, upon her reappointment, has not for a day stuttered about her commitment to reposition the NPA to work for importers, exporters, and Nigerians in general.
As part of Hadiza’s efforts aimed at finding a permanent solution to the problem of truck congestion around Apapa and its environs, the Authority announced the commencement of Eto, the Electronic Truck call-up system designed for the management of truck movement and access to and from the Lagos Ports Complex and the Tin Can Island Ports, Apapa, Lagos.
This is the very first time that the NPA will be using technological advancement in its truck all-up at the ports. With the Eto App, the NPA can easily schedule the entry and exit of all trucks into the ports remotely.
This means that all trucks doing business at the ports will be required to park at the approved truck parks until they are called up into the port through the Eto app.
The electronic call-up system for Apapa & Tincan Island Ports is set to go into operation.
The system will minimize the human intervention element in truck movement in & out of the Ports as this is part of the efforts to ensure the smooth running of the business at Nigerian Ports.
As a result of this innovation by the Hadiza Bala-Usman-led NPA management, a permanent solution to the problem of truck congestion around Apapa and its environs will be witnessed as the new system, which is expected to enthrone transparency, an orderliness to truck movement as scheduling is done automatically will also bring an end to the intractable Apapa traffic.
It is barely 2 months after her reappointment into the NPA, and as evidently seen in her adoption of technology to solve real-life issues, one cannot underestimate what to expect in the next 3-4 years.
Hadiza Bala Usman in just a short period from her reappointment has yet shown that her initial appointment was not a fluke but a case of the right peg in the right hole.
If for nothing else, she might as well go down in history as not just one of the most competent and effective Managing Director at the NPA but also one of the best hands employed by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Yinka Falade writes from Lagos…