After 55 months as its Director General, Patrick Ziakade Akpobolokemi will today formally hand over the running of affairs of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to one of the three Executive Directors he is leaving behind.
This is even as major stakeholders who spoke exclusively with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY have expressed divergent views on the erstwhile DG’s four and half years tenure.
Akpobolokemi was booted out of office on Thursday last week by President Mohammadu Buhari with a directive to hand over the reigns of the apex maritime regulatory agency to the most senior officer.
While it was not clear as at press time which of the three EDs would be picked as the most senior since they were all appointed same day about three years ago, some staff of the agency believe the mantle of leadership would fall on the ED Cabotage and Maritime Labour, Barrister Callistus Obi Nwabueze.
The other EDs are Capt. Bala Agaba (Maritime Safety and Shipping Development) and Baba Haruna Jauro (Finance and Administration).
Speaking exclusively to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on Sunday, President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun said, “What I can say is that it has not come as a surprise to a lot of people. The system has to move on and the important thing is who succeeds him and our intention as stakeholders is that a technocrat who is a professional on the field should be appointed to take over from him.
“If am to comment on Akpobolokemi’s tenure, I think he did well considering his background because whether we like it or not, he was able to bring professionalism to NIMASA for the fact that he allowed mariners to be brought into the key position and those who came in are core professionals who are adding value.”
But the Secretary of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Tunji Brown expressed a different opinion on the erstwhile DG’s tenure.
“The sack is a very welcome development and we (shipowners) are quiet happy for the sack. The sack was expected because of the change in government and though we know he had some good programme but all the same it was a welcome development that he was asked to leave,” he said.
The Director-General, Nigerian Chambers of Shipping, Ify Anazonwu-Akerele asked the Federal Government to appoint a technocrat to succeed Akpobolokemi.
She said sacking a DG that didn’t understand the industry was a welcome development but advised the government of President Buhari to avoid the mistake of appointing a non-technocrat to head the regulatory agency.
“Government should not appoint a politician but a technocrats that will put things in place. When Government appoints a technocrats that is knowledgeable about the industry we will all see a difference.
“If they (government) remove someone that is not knowledgeable about the industry then it is a welcome development and we think the same government will bring someone that is more of a maritime person. What I know is that it will be a good development when government appoints someone that is knowledgeable in the office,” she said.
The President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), Capt. Ade Olopoenia while speaking with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY also advised the President to appoint an expert to head the agency.
“We have said several times that government should appoint a square peg in a square hole and not someone that knows nothing about the maritime industry.
“The government should appoint a professional as the head on the agency,” he said.
The selection of Akpobolokemi to head cash rich NIMASA in 2010 was considered one of the most controversial appointments made by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Critics argued that the appointment was tinged with nepotism as Akpobolokemi did not possess the necessary qualifications to occupy the office of DG of NIMASA as stated in Sections 6 & 7 of the Act establishing the agency.
The Act had stipulated that the DG of NIMASA should possess “relevant experience and capacity applicable to maritime administration, recognized expert knowledge, qualification and experience in one or more of the following fields.”
As spelt out by the Act, the fields are maritime safety, maritime security, maritime pollution, nautical sciences and hydrographic and maritime engineering, finance, marine law, transport logistics, administration and marine labour.
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