Ehe nation’s Maritime stakeholders on Monday, assembled at the Eko Hotel, Lagos to honour the master mind of the country’s most successful privatization / concession program, Chief Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi, who Sunday attained the symbolic age of 70 years.
The stakeholders said it was important that the Ibadan High Chief be celebrated, despite his desire to lie low, because he was still mourning his kinsman, the Are Musulumi, Chief, Alao Arisekola, who only a few weeks ago died in the United Kingdom.
Sarumi, the only Nigerian to have both served as CEO of both the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Nigerian Ports Authority consequently acquired unique experiences, all of which he deployed into the development of the nation’s most successful privatization project.
Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi, a revered Ibadan High Chief, was until his retirement on 31st May 2007, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigerian Ports Authority, a conglomerate of over 8 port complexes and terminals distributed extensively over 850 kilometers of the country’s coastline and handling general mix of cargo, containers, roll-on, roll-off, and onshore and offshore oil and gas consignment in the country’s oil-rich Niger Delta Region.
Prior to his appointment to the post in 2003, he had served on the country’s Transport Sector Reform Committee, a stint that gave him full grasp of port sub sector reform imperatives, a wealth of experience that assisted him to mid- wife, arguably, the most comprehensive, successful and ambitious reform initiative ever embarked upon in sub-Sahara Africa.
Sarumi who is fondly called today as the father of port reform in Nigeria, deprived himself of so many things, including comfort and time for his family, all in the attempt to ensure the success of the port reform exercise which he inherited while at conceptual stage. Today, the nation is enjoying the fruit of his selfless service as the ports are now generating more funds into the federation purse, besides being more effective and efficient in operation as a result of the reform programme which he pursued with vigor, energy and everything he had. Although, there were some casualties in terms of job loss as a result of the port reform, Sarumi made sure that all those affected were adequately compensated, with their pension fully paid.
Prior to his appointment as Managing Director of NPA in October 2003, he was Managing Director of Nigerian Shipper’s Council for over 7 years, during which period he pioneered extensive reforms in the area of shippers’ protection, enlightenment, information and education. His indelible foot prints at the council are still there for generations yet to come to see. He initiated the inner container deports also known as dry ports in six geographical zones of the country after committing the Royal Hascony to carry out the feasibility studies on dry ports in places outside the littoral states. As a genius in ports operation and maritime trade, he conceived the dry ports to serve not only as a tool to decongest the ports, but as a trade facilitation tools as goods could be consigned to the inner ports instead of having all imported goods at the sea ports and by so doing, reduce cost for shippers
He was between 1997 and 1998 the Chairman of Union of African Shippers Council, a position he used to bridge information and relational gap between providers and users of shipping services in sub-Sahara Africa.