More revelations have emerged on how the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, has allegedly been running the agency as if it were a private fiefdom rather than a public organisation.
Latest information made available by some senior staff of NIMASA exposes how Jamoh has relegated the roles of many of the agency’s substantive Directors to heads of units while he enthroned their subordinates, who are seen as his acolytes, to serve as heads of departments.
In government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), departments are usually headed by Directors (or General Managers as the case may be) while units are headed by Deputy Directors or Assistant Directors. However, in Jamoh’s NIMASA, the reverse appears to be the case.
Investigations by SHIPS & PORTS reveal that NIMASA has no fewer than 12 substantive Directors – more than enough to head the agency’s nine departments but only three of them are heading departments while the others are merely heads of units contrary to civil service norms. At present, Deputy Directors head six major departments of the agency.
The Departments in NIMASA, as listed in the agency’s organogram exclusively obtained by SHIPS & PORTS are Cabotage Services, Maritime Labour Services, Administration and Human Resources, Financial Services as well as Planning, Research and Data Management Services. The others are Maritime Safety and Seafarers’ Standard, Shipping Development, Marine Environment Management and Legal Services/Board Secretariat.
However, investigation by SHIPS & PORTS reveals that Jamoh placed Deputy Directors to head those department considered to be “juicy”.
The Deputy Directors in charge of the six “juicy” departments in the agency are Hamisu Gambo (Administration and Human Resources), Abdullahi Mustapha (Financial Services), Danjuma Babah (Procurement), Khurason Inuwa (Shipping Development), Aliyu Lawan (Maritime Labour Services) and Taiwo Olaniyan (Maritime Safety & Seafarers Standards). Curiously, five of the six are northerners while only Olaniyan is from the southern part of the country. Three of the five hail from Kaduna State like the Director General. They are Hamisu Gambo (Administration and Human Resources), Danjuma Babah (Procurement) and Khurason Inuwa (Shipping Development).
The 12 substantive Directors in NIMASA are Rita Uruakpa, Kabir Murnai, Aisha Jidda, Kehinde Bolaji, Heaky Dimowo, Isichei Osamgbi, Otonye Obom, Chris Amakulo, Sunday Umoren, Olamide Odusanya, Olubusola Akande-Obasanjo and Eric Oji.
However, only three of the Directors are heads of departments. These are Rita Uruakpa (Cabotage Services), Heaky Dimowo (Marine Environment Management) and Eric Oji (Planning Research & Data Management Services).
The nine remaining Directors, apart from Sunday Umoren who has been seconded to the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control as Secretary General, are made to head units which are ordinarily headed by Deputy Directors or Assistant Directors.
The Directors heading units are Olamide Odusanya (Internal Audit), Chris Amakulo (Data Management), Aisha Jidda (Reforms Coordination & Strategic Management), Isichei Osamgbi (Special Duties (External Relations & Technical Cooperation), Otonye Obom (Deep Blue), Olubusola Akande-Obasanjo (Western Zone Maritime Labour Services), Kehinde Bolaji (Servicom) and Kabir Murnai (Western Zone).
The case of Olubusola Akande-Obasanjo, who is the Western Zone Director of Maritime Labour Services is particularly curious because her position means she has to report to the Head of Maritime Labour Services Department, Aliyu Lawan who is a Deputy Director and her junior. Also curious is the case of Chris Amakulo who is a Director in the Data Management Services Department serving under a fellow Director, Eric Oji.
Kabir Murnai’s posting as Director in charge of Western zone also raises questions. This is because he is the only Director serving as the head of a zone. The other zonal heads are all Deputy Directors because in the structure of NIMASA, zones are units and not departments. Some officials of the agency consider Akande-Obasanjo and Murnai’s posting to a zonal office as vindictive since Directors of NIMASA typically serve in the headquarters.
“What is happening in NIMASA should be a source of concern to the Federal Government and to all well meaning Nigerians. The Director General has created a very clumsy situation where some people now report to their subordinates. Imagine a Director reporting to a Deputy Director or to a fellow Director! It is unheard of that junior Deputy Directors will be made to head Departments when you have sufficient number of substantive Directors. It never happened in NIMASA before the present Director General’s tenure. It is a shame that heads of departments have their seniors serving under them. I wish the government will beam its searchlight on the activities of the agency under the present Director General,” an Assistant Director, who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS on condition of anonymity, said.
Another senior staff of NIMASA said Jamoh has “killed” seniority in the agency.
“He killed seniority. He killed discipline in NIMASA,” she said.
Another senior staff, who begged to remain anonymous over fear of victimisation by the Director General, said, “He prefers people that kowtow. He knows that Directors are not pushovers. They will analyse and ask questions, and he can’t stand scrutiny.
“He wants to take contracts and proposals to the Parastatal Tenders Board (PTB) and get express approvals without anyone asking questions. If Directors are Heads of Department as they should be, they will have to attend PTB meetings and scrutinize every request that comes before them. They will ask questions before signing off on any document, but junior officers will not. They will just do the bidding of the Director General,” he said.
The imposition of Deputy Directors as heads of departments is already taking a toll on the agency. For instance, the Senior Staff Committee, which is the body of Directors responsible for overseeing issues affecting officers from Level 8 to Level 15, has not been able to meet for over eight months. This is because Hamisu Gambo, who Jamoh made the Head of Administration and Human Resources Department, is a Deputy Director and therefore not senior enough to call a meeting of Directors.
“The meeting of the Senior Staff Committee is usually convened by the Director of Administration and Human Resources, who is usually not just a Director but a very senior one. A Deputy Director cannot summon a meeting of Directors, so the Senior Staff Committee has not been able to meet for some time now. It means matters affecting the senior staff, including disciplinary actions, are in indefinite abeyance to the detriment of the organisation,” the staff said.
He said the three Executive Directors of the agency namely Victor Ochei (Executive Director, Maritime Labour & Cabotage Services), Chudi Offodile (Executive Director, Finance and Administration) and Shehu Ahmed (Executive Director Operations) all tried to call Jamoh to order over the anomalies in the agency without success.
Recall that on Monday, SHIPS & PORTS exposed how Jamoh installed only workers of northern origin as heads of the agency’s four zones and Abuja Office. Also, all but one of the agency’s Port Service Controllers in all four zones are northerners, with most of them being indigenes of Kaduna State like the Director General.
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