Need to guard against the looting of maritime agencies

As a new government takes over the affairs of the country come May 29, 2015, there will be realignment of forces.

It would be the discretion of the incoming government to appoint new chief executives for the various ministries, departments and agencies or retain the ones they inherit from the outgoing government.

As it affects the maritime industry, there will be a new Minister of Transport under the new regime to replace Senator Idris Umar who has held that position for four years. The leaderships of maritime industry agencies including the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron may be affected by the wind of change that is sweeping across the country.

As it has happened during transition from one government to the other in the past, there is the tendency for chief executives that may be replaced by the new administration to want to appropriate certain privileges to themselves and their cronies as ‘parting gifts’.

It is a known fact that in our clime, people with access to the common wealth – and who may soon become outsiders to the system – will seek to use it to corner all the juicy advantages and create another world of limitless comfort for themselves, their relatives and cronies, which would automatically place them far above the rest of the people and ‘above the law’.

This mentality appears to be what guides the conducts of public officers in Nigeria.

This disturbing trend must however not be allowed to continue.

As they say in local parlance, “soldier go, soldier come, barracks remain”. While the chief executives who are mostly political appointees will always come and go, the civil servants or public servants as the case may be will remain longer in the organisation. Career civil servants who have spent, or will spend, a good part of their productive years in public service must therefore take on the responsibility of protecting the agencies against looting at this critical time.

There is a general tendency to blame politicians for the poverty, underdevelopment, and colossal tragedy of leadership that best describes Nigeria today. From military dictatorships to ‘democratic’ governments, all have conspired to reduce governance to the manipulation of public office to deceive and loot public funds for personal use.

But we can blame the politicians and ‘militicians’ only to an extent because they come and go. The only permanent feature of government – whether under military or civilian dispensation – is the civil service. This is why civil servants cannot escape responsibility for checking the rot at their places of work.

It is therefore imperative that workers and the poor masses do not pitch tent or connive with those who plan on looting their agencies. Rather, workers must maintain vigilance and blow the whistle when they notice any untoward acts in their organisations.

Leaders of workers’ unions must sensitise their members and campaign against the looting of their organisations.

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to as the source.