It was wild jubilation galore yesterday at the offices of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Apapa, Lagos as the Federal Government announced the sack of Patrick Akpobolokemi as Director General of the apex maritime regulatory agency.
Akpobolokemi was seen mainly as a sectional and highly tribalised head of the agency as he used his five year tenure to promote what some of the staff termed “Ijawnisation of NIMASA”.
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday terminated Akpobolokemi’s appointment.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina announced the sack in a statement made available to journalists.
Adesina, however, did not give any reason for the decision which he said was with immediate effect.
He directed Akpobolokemi to hand over the management of NIMASA and all government property in his possession to the most senior officer in the agency who will remain in charge until a new Director-General is appointed.
He is the first head of a Federal Government parastatal to be sacked by the new Buhari administration.
“This is long expected. It calls for celebration. This man destroyed NIMASA when God gave him the golden opportunity to manage its affairs,” one of the staff whose identity would not be revealed for obvious reasons stated.
Another staff of the agency said the Federal Government should go a step further by probing Akpobolokemi’s tenure.
He said, “The level of fraud and atrocities can only be imagined. Akpobolokemi was an emperor who operated with absolute impunity. EFCC must arrest and prosecute him. They must recover the agency’s money from him.
“All those he employed and promoted above their levels and qualifications must also be sacked or demoted by the new administration.”
Ships & Ports had reported exclusively on Monday that the Federal Government had stopped NIMASA from making further payments for maritime security contract to a company owned by Tompolo – Akpobolokemi’s kinsman and benefactor.
Akpobolokemi was accused by the All Progressives Congress (APC) of sponsoring the hate campaign against General Muhammadu Buhari in the run up to the March 28 presidential election.
“In what has become a deliberate and orchestrated attempt to undermine and rubbish all performing and strategic institutions of the federal government of Nigeria, the APC has mounted relentless attack and vicious propaganda, all in the name of politics, to attack the Nigerian Army, Police, Directorate of State Security, NNPC and its latest victim, NIMASA,” Akpobolokemi had stated during a press conference in Lagos in February.
He advised Buhari, then the Presidential candidate of the APC to leave NIMASA alone “if he is smelling defeat” in the general election.
But in a swift reaction, the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) in a statement signed by its Directorate of Media and Publicity but now Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu said the maritime agency had transformed into a campaign outpost for the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“NIMASA Act does not envisage the involvement of the agency in political campaign. It certainly has no provision for hate campaigns against Buhari, nor does it allow for the funding of the activities of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN).
“NIMASA is trying to reduce this to a campaign issue, but the truth is that the conversion of a statutory government agency into one actively promoting partisan political actions of the President (Goodluck Jonathan) is of national significance. It assumes a more serious dimension when staff are denied their dues and money shipped out to fund illegal activities,” Shehu said.
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