NPA: Ajayi Begins Second Missionary Journey To Public Affairs

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  • As Naira plunges to 440 as dollar inflow drops

The former General Manager, Western Ports, Chief Michael Kayode Ajayi is expected to return this week to Marina, Lagos as the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), following recent redeployment exercise undertaken by the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman.

Ajayi was formerly the GM Administration where he engendered wide ranging administrative initiatives, was later deployed to anchor the Public Affairs, where he, single handedly and without Government funds set up an in-house magazine which netted over N26m, an amount which allegedly grew wings and disappeared shortly after Ajayi was deployed to Western Ports as the GM.

Chief Ajayi became popular as the GM Western Ports following his dedicated commitment to find enduring solutions to the chronic traffic gridlock in Apapa, a move which resulted in his coordinating a synergy which actually brought the Dangote Group, the Flour Mill of Nigeria and other stakeholders to a drawing board, in which Dangote and the FMN agreed to fund the rehabilitation of the Port – Ijora Bridge Access Road, fingered to be the major culprit of the Apapa gridlock.

The first Phase was already concluded, raising the hope that were Ajayi to remain just a little bit further in Apapa, the disappearance of any gridlock was merely a matter of time.

Highlighting a fear that the deployment might throw spanners in the hope of finding timely and enduring solutions to the traffic challenges of Apapa, a disappointed stakeholder who spoke on conditions of strong anonymity wished Ajayi well, even as he noted that the new GM Public Affairs might not find the desired motivation in Marina.

“There may be nothing to motivate him there anymore. He had occupied that position before, during which time he recreated an in-house magazine,  which without any management funding grew, and built up a profit of over N26.6m.

“The magazine came out regularly when Ajayi was in charge. NPA did not have anything to do with the magazine. Have you asked what happened to it thereafter? We learnt that even the whopping sum disappeared shortly after Ajayi was deployed to Apapa as GM, Western Ports!

“I have not seen anyone over there that can stand his achievement  in NPA. That is the truth of the matter. Nigerians are noisemakers. This guy doesn’t talk. He works. He is a workaholic. He also does not destroy other’s character”, he stated, highlighting how greatly, the Apapa community would likely missed the new GM Public Affairs.

“I can recollect that in 2007, as GM Administration, he actually organized and secured for the Authority, a fresh condition of service to tackle all the observed challenges based on his experience.  I may be wrong, but I think he was the one that conceived the new salary. He it was who also defended it before the two Ministries, before he followed it to the Salaries and Wages … Commission where he also got the approval for management.

“Nobody ever did that in the history of NPA”, he also indicated, pointing out that Ajayi as GM Western Ports initiated the moves which culminated into the sealing of the MoU between Dangote Group and the Flour Mill, for an eight-week non-stop rehabilitation of the Wharf – Flourmill – Ijora Bridge Access Road, of which the contractors were already working on the Phase one, an axis most notorious for bringing down container laden trucks!

“While a good Port access road may increase the revenue profile of the authority, it would enable us save unimaginable man-hours to attend to important assignments. It would also impact, positively on our health, you know!”, he explained further.

Speaking in the same vein, an industry watcher, Anthony Emeordi recollected how Ajayi assisted not only in beautifying the Authority’s Sports facility at Bode Thomas, but also using same to generate revenue for NPA.

“When was the last time you visited the NPA’s Sports facility at Bode Thomas?  If you visit Bode Thomas you would conspicuously see the Chief’s indelible marks. He conceived it when Lagos State was to host world Cup.

“The field then was bad, empty and water logged. He secured management approval for a well laid grass, stressing that it enable NPA earn money from those who would come and use it as a practicing pitch.

“I can’t be too sure now, but I think it was the person that that designed the Ijebu-ode stadium, who also helped to design that field, before he fixed the place up with air conditioners. He ran it as a relaxation centre for everyone, paying the workers as at when due. Yet when he was leaving, he prudently handed over N4m to his successor!”, the industry watcher concluded.

Would Ajayi, a senior Civil Servant with a most used but hardly appreciated Soul reenact the old magic as he again, takes over the mandate of reshaping, rejigging and re-engineering the public image of the Nigerian Ports Authority, only time will tell!

In the meantime, the naira was sold at the parallel market for 440 per dollar on Sunday, as the lingering foreign exchange scarcity increased to a new level.

The local currency, which closed at 436/dollar on Thursday, eased to 435 in the early hours of Friday. It closed at 439/dollar.

The naira had closed at 428 to the greenback on Wednesday, down from 424 on Tuesday, as lingering foreign exchange shortage weighed on the economy.

The latest declines in the naira value started on Wednesday, a day after the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee retained the benchmark lending rate at 14 per cent.

The MPC had after its two-day bi-monthly meeting left the Monetary Policy Rate unchanged, rebuffing calls for rates cut by analysts, stakeholders and some government officials, including the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

However, economic and currency analysts have said the decline in the value of the local currency against the dollar has nothing to do with the MPC decision.

At the interbank market, the naira closed at 307.79 on Friday. It closed at 307.25, 311 and 312 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively, according to data posted on the FMDQ OTC platform.

“There is shortage of dollar supply. Diaspora remittances have dropped. This is why you can see the rate dropping at the parallel market,” an economic analyst and Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said.

The development came amid depleting external reserves, which stood at $24.8bn last Monday.

The latest data posted on the CBN website showed that the foreign exchange reserves were down by 3.4 per cent from a month ago to its lowest level in more than 11 years, as the apex bank sells the greenback at the interbank market to support the naira.

Economic and currency analysts had said there had been no significant policy response to the fall in the reserves, further fuelling the concerns.

The Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria had said the naira would recover by Monday due to the introduction of Travelex, a licensed forex dealer.

Travelex, an international money transfer organisation, would begin to distribute forex to the BDC operators on Monday (today).

The President, ABCON, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said the forex distribution would be efficient and uniform across ABCON members, unlike what was obtainable in the past.

According to him, Travelex has the technology to sell forex to about 1,000 BDCs in a couple of hours, which is a major advantage.

Additional report from Punch