Akpobolokemi confirms flouting Federal Character principle
… As Senate alleges ethnicity in NIMASA recruitment
The nation’s apex maritime regulatory organ, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), is presently being run in utter disregard to the principle of Federal Character that serves to help weld Nigeria’s varied peoples in some semblance of equity.
No less a person than the the incumbent NIMASA Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, made this startling revelation when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character.
Akpobolokemi, who had been summoned to appear before the Senate Committee on Federal Character, which is investigating alleged job racketeering in the government agencies, had admitted that NIMASA is not up to 80 per cent compliant to the Federal Character principle.
NIMASA, according to him, is doing everything possible to ensure that it complies in its recruitment exercises.
On the alleged compulsory retirement by so-called “golden handshake” of certain staff, who had not attained their due date, Akpobolokemi claimed that there has never been a time that the NIMASA forced anybody out of service.
He said that those who quit NIMASA left voluntarily.
Noting that there the “golden handshake” was a reality, the NIMASA boss explained that the four staff who were leaving would also be sent to the United Kingdom (UK) for pre-retirement training at the expense of the Agency.
Many other members of staff, according to him, have been expressing their willingness to leave service before their due date of retirement.
Beaming its searchlight NIMASA, members of the nation’s upper legislative house had accused Akpobolokemi of allegedly flouting the Federal Character principle in the apex maritime regulatory agency’s recent recruitment exercise.
The NIMASA Director-General denied the allegation of favouring certain states or geo-political zones of the country in retiring people from the service.
The Senate Committee on Federal Character faulted Akpobolokemi over alleged forced retirement of certain Deputy Directors and Directors, who, under the guise of “golden handshake”, were replaced on the ground of ethnicity by younger and inexperienced personnel.
Contributing to the matter, a member of the committee, Senator Ali Ndume, said that the so-called “golden handshake” allegedly dispensed to four NIMASA staff retired four years before their due date, was “an arm-twisting exercise aimed at creating space for some younger elements from a particular zone of the country.”
Also speaking, Committee Chairman, Senator Dahiru Awaisu Kuta, described the last recruitment exercise conducted by NIMASA as unhealthy.
Kuta noted that during that particular exercise, Bayelsa State allegedly had 25 persons employed, while neighbouring Rivers State had only three people recruited.
Urging the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission, Prof. Abdulrahman Oba, to furnish the committee with the names of the right and genuine candidates that would fill the posts being vacated by the affected people in the NIMASA “golden handshake” retirement exercise, Kuta posited that this would help to ascertain whether the Agency has totally violated the Federal Character principle.
Meanwhile, immediate past Director, Planning Research and Statistics of NIMASA, Mallam Jarma Bulama, who recently retired voluntarily from the agency after 28 years in the civil service, has denied quitting in order to benefit from the controversial golden handshake offered by Akpobolokemi.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY had reported exclusively in its Monday edition that Akpobolokemi had ordered three Directors and four Deputy Directors of NIMASA to proceed on retirement, with a package of so-called golden handshake of financial incentives, even when they were not yet due for retirement.
Beneficiaries of the controversial retirement package were offered between N107 million and N200 million, with a view to creating space at the agency’s directorate cadre for Akpobolokemi’s acolytes and kinsmen to fill.
“I had since wanted to retire from the service. In fact I had wanted to retire ten years ago, but I waited for this long. I started work at the age of 28 and after another 28 years of work and now at 56 years of age, the best thing is for me to leave. We all started work when we were young, but now some of us have three, four or five children and some of them have graduated so the best thing to do is to quit so as to allow them come in. If we don’t leave, they won’t be able to come in,” Bulama told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on the sidelines of a send-off party organised in his honour at the Rockview Hotel, Apapa, Lagos on Wednesday.
Bulama, who once served as Director of Finance and later as Director of Shipping Development in NIMASA, also advised civil servants to plan ahead for their retirement.
“I am not afraid to retire ahead of time. I believe I should leave at a time when I will still be useful to myself. I don’t want to become old and useless before leaving service,” he stated.
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