NIMASA: Stakeholders dub tabloid editorials as ‘hand of Esau’.

Former DG, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi

…task agency to dissociate itself from the editorial.

Stakeholders may have begun to read meanings into a June editorial of a freight and energy tabloid which counselled the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to do away with the experiences of the Nigerian ship-owners in the establishment of the proposed national carrier, noting strongly that the editorial actually came, shortly after the agency announced that it would work on new criteria that might be exclusive of Nigerian ship-owners.

The respondents, consisting mostly of industry watchers, and port users also counselled NIMASA to dissociate itself from the editorial captioned, “Failed Ship-owners shouldn’t manage proposed national shipping line” before Nigerians begin to draw the unfortunate conclusion that the agency whose sole responsibility is to grow the industry might have no better objective than the destruction of the very platform, for which it was set up.

“As much as I want to respect editorials as seeds of independent imaginations and logics of informed individuals, I cannot but developed my fears, in so far as this particular editorial goes”, highlighted one Anthony Emeordi, a port operator, noting that one of the reasons the editorial deducted, for advising the NIMASA Director General against investing in the experiences of the group was that some of them, when they had money, had “spent their fortunes in non-profiting frivolities like acquiring traditional tittles, (and) bagging honorary doctorate degree from institutions where they made bogus and unrealistic promises to carry out development” projects.

Emeordi, while stressing the unique importance of experience, as the best teacher, also advised the agency, to go beyond the realms of semantics and rhetoric, and begin the implementation of whatever ideas, especially the equipping of the operators with their ‘esusu’ collected money called the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), stressing that a situation where the agency had collected the money for over 10 years, hides it in banks, at a rate only the agency knows, without the slightest indication of when the money would be put to fruitful use was to say the least, evil.

“I am not a saint. And I don’t think the people in the agency are saints either. You are a journalist. If I ask you, how much was the total collection now, I am sure you don’t know. If I ask you at which interest rate it was kept in the bank now, I am also sure you won’t know. Let alone, if I should ask you, the procedure through which the agreed interest rate was concluded….

“And you want me to believe that all is well with the CVFF? If I believe the way you are defending the agency right now, then, I may as well believe anything”, he concluded, saying that information in respect of the CVFF as a public fund, should be available for everyone.

But in the response of an industry watcher who pleaded for anonymity, the agency had lost its vision; and may soon emerge as full blown bull, in a china shop.

“My Brother, leave the issue of CVFF out of it. Let us ask ourselves how much the agency is presently dolling out now on monthly basis for the platform it hired from the Global West group. Didn’t they tell us it would be on no cure- no pay? Are they still paying on the basis of curing? If you don’t know, go and investigate and you can there after come here, for further enlightenment”, he concluded, pointing out that when the chips were down, Nigerians would know the truth.

Speaking in the same vein, another respondent, a shipmaster who also pleaded for anonymity sought to know what progress NIMASA had recorded for the country in the past three years, in the area of its core function of shipping development? He laughed when the Maritime First said the agency had sent over 2500 students for overseas training.

“Have you asked them how much that idea had gulped? Have you asked them if the same objectives could not be achieved at far cheaper cost? And have you asked them where he cadets would work in Nigeria, if the country continues to remain without ships?

“Have you asked them what had actually sustained Iranian economy, when the Western world turned the heat, through sanctions upon it? Have you also asked them whether up till now, Nigeria does not deserve to have any ships of her own?” he asked, stressing that he had begun to pray for a post Jonathan era, in the maritime.

An importer, Mrs. Bolutife Ajayi however spoke eloquently, in respect of both the agency and the Director General, Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, stressing that she had monitored the management style and was satisfied that the former university teacher has a lot to offer.

“You know people don’t usually appreciate anybody’s good efforts when they are in office. When Baba Obasanjo was in power, remember how several people treated him like what have; yet today he is treated as a saint. The same would be of President Jonathan. And the same would also be of this present DG. He is doing a good work. And with time, this would also come to show”, she concluded.