Its not true- Akpobolokemi
Fears of election manipulation may have gripped members of the Nigerian Indigenous Ship-owners Association (NISA), as indications unfold that Government, may be wishing to sponsor one of the candidates, for the Presidential seat.
The need to sponsor a candidate, (name with held) was said to have been muted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), to enable the agency develop the capacity to influence who emerges in a bid to prevent anyone who could later become a thorn on the agency’s flesh emerging.
To this extent, the Maritime First learnt that if the candidate finally agrees, not only would he be bankrolled, he may also leverage on the, good influence of the agency, for a smooth sail.
A NISA member who spoke on the issue said he has heard about it, and expressed his concerns, stressing the need for the agency, to be neutral.
“The Agency should not meddle in the internal affairs of the Association by sponsoring a contestant!”, the NISA member quipped, stressing that the NIMASA as a Government agency, should concentrate on the core responsibility of the development of commercial international and coastal shipping, maritime navigation safety and pollution prevention.
The NISA member recalled a similar development, wherein the NIMASA Board and Management was said to have travelled to meet Indonesia Shipowners’ Association (INSA) to appeal to their Agency, against the interest of the NISA, to come to Nigeria with their ships!
“This of course negates the spirit and intendment of the Cabotage Act which the Agency is established to implement!
” The executives of the Agency continues to wish they were ship-owners. They therefore continue to steer the direction of the Agency in direct confrontation with Shipowners.
“While they have a fundamental right to own ships, they cannot and must not use the garb of the Agency for things inimical to the growth of the shipping and maritime industry”, he reasoned further, noting that the Agency was yet to find it auspicious to sit with Nigeria Shipowners’ Association (NISA) to discuss how to assist the members to grow their business!
However, when the view of the NIMASA Director General, Patrick Ziaked Akpobolokemi was sought, he totally refuted the allegation, stressing the neutrality of his organization.
“Why should we be interested in sponsoring any candidate? What do we intend to achieve with that?”he asked, debunking the allegation in its entirety.
“We are not going to meddle into this election. It is not in the best interest of the agency; and it is not in the best interest of NISA”, he stated further, adding that his view is sacrosanct, irrespective of if even, any of the candidates may have said anything to the contrary.
“Candidates are free to say this or that. But, we (NIMASS) we also have the right to be neutral! We will not meddle into what does not concern us”, he emphasized in a telephone conversation at 22.28 hours Saturday, explaining that he personally sees the NISA elections as ship-owners family affairs, which the agency should not directly or indirectly be concerned with.
It must be recalled that one of the decisions taken at the last NISA general meeting was that the NIMASA would function at the NISA forthcoming election, as the Returning Officer.