Port reform icon, Sarumi clocks 70

Chief Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi, OFR, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from October 15, 2003 to May 2007, clocked 70 yesterday.

Sarumi executed the the Federal Government’s port reform programme which led to the successful transfer

terminal handling operations from NPA to private companies.

Stakeholders in the maritime industry are today organising a colloquium at the prestigious Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos to honour the port industry icon.

Born in the Ayepe area of the ancient city of Ibadan, capital of present-day Oyo State on July 6, 1944, Sarumi has over the years become synonymous with transport and logistics management, particularly in the maritime sector.

Sarumi looms larger-than-life in the industry, but his ascendancy as a technocrat was no fluke.

Sarumi started his education at Progressive Day School, Ibadan.

He then proceeded to Ayedade Grammar School, Ikire, in present day Osun State, from 1958 to 1963. He returned to his hometown for his A-Levels at Government College, Ibadan (1964-1965).

It could have been due to some other exigencies, but the alignment to Ibadan of the trajectory of the academic life of the young man was unmistakable. He graduated from the University of Ibadan with BA (Hons.) in Geography in 1969. Undoubtedly, a payoff such as “proudly Ibadan” will stick well with Sarumi, who holds the prestigious traditional title, Aare Parakoyi of Ibadanland.

Sarumi honed his skills in port and shipping administration in over four decades of academic and professional studies, as well as industry experience. Armed with his Geography degree, he had taught school for a few years before he joined the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as a Traffic Officer in 1973. By 1980, he had risen to the post of Traffic Manager. Between 1985 and 1990, he was variously the Port Manager, Calabar Port, Lagos Port Complex, and Tin-Can Island Port Complex, respectively.

Appointed Zonal Coordinator, Western Zone, NPA, in 1990, Sarumi returned to the Lagos Port Complex as Port Manager, serving on this particular tour of duty at Nigeria’s premier port from 1991 to 1995. He moved on to the position of General Manager, Marine Services, NPA, a post he held until he was appointed the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in September 1996. As the NSC’s helmsman for over seven years, Sarumi pioneered extensive reforms in shippers’ protection, enlightenment, information and education. Between 1997 and 1998, he was the Chairman, Union of African Shippers’ Councils (UASC), a position he used to bridge information and relational gap between providers and users of shipping services in sub-Sahara Africa. In October 2003, he became the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the NPA. Until his retirement on May 31, 2007, Sarumi, as the NPA boss, presided over a conglomerate of over eight port complexes and terminals distributed extensively over 850 kilometres of Nigeria’s coastline and handling general mix of cargoes, containers, and roll-on, roll-off as well as onshore and offshore oil and gas consignments in the country’s oil-rich Niger Delta region. Prior to his appointment to the post, he had served on the Transport Sector Reform Committee, a stint that gave him full grasp of port sub-sector reform imperatives, a wealth of experience that assisted him in the onerous task of midwifing unarguably the most comprehensive and ambitious port reform initiative ever embarked upon in sub-Sahara Africa.

Sarumi studied and obtained a Certificate in Port Administration at Tokyo International Centre in 1977, under a scholarship awarded by the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In 1978, he won a fellowship of Netherlands University Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC), which enabled him embark on extensive study of some Dutch and French ports under a programme of attachment to Delft University Institute of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering. In 1980, Sarumi was invited by the Ports Authority of New York and New Jersey, United States of America (USA) to study Port Planning at the defunct World Trade Institute, World Trade Centre, New York. He also studied Shipping at the Cambridge Academy of Transport, United Kingdom (UK) in 1993.

In the course of his illustrious career, apart from the UASC, Sarumi also represented Nigeria on a number of international groups such as UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) Committee on Shipping, Geneva, Switzerland (1986); UNTACD Committee of Port Experts, Geneva, Switzerland (1987 – 1989); Chairman, Committee of Experts of Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA.) Cote d’Ivoire (1998 – 2003); and Treasurer, Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA), Lagos, Nigeria (2003 – 2007).

No doubt, Sarumi is a prophet that is welcome abroad and at home. Over the years, Nigeria has routinely called on him to serve in several strategic committees. Just as routinely, he has always obeyed Nigeria’s call. Always, he has served meritoriously. He was Member, National Dock Labour Committee, Lagos Port (1979-1984); Chairman, Head of Federal Parastatals, Cross River State, Calabar (1985-1987); Chairman, NPA Committee on Re-organization of Dock Labour System (1989); Vice Chairman, Federal Government Committee on Port Operations (1990); and Zonal Coordinator (West), Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation (TCPC). Of course, he had distinguished himself in the Transport Sector Reform Committee.

In spite of his tight working schedule in the civil service, Sarumi made out time for philanthropic activities. It was inevitable that these tapped of his immense organisational and managerial abilities. Therefore, he was President, Ikeja Lions Club (1993-1994);  and Zonal and Regional Chairman, Lions Club. (1994-1996), just to mention a few.

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (FCILT), UK, Sarumi is a holder of Nigerian National Honour of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR). Sarumi is currently the Chairman of Fobat Group of Companies, with interests in marine logistics and consultancy, real estate and agriculture. He offers consulting and advisory services in marine training, logistics and general administration.

(1985-1987); Chairman, NPA Committee on Re-organization of Dock Labour System (1989); Vice Chairman, Federal Government Committee on Port Operations (1990); and Zonal Coordinator (West), Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation (TCPC). Of course, he had distinguished himself in the Transport Sector Reform Committee.

In spite of his tight working schedule in the civil service, Sarumi made out time for philanthropic activities. It was inevitable that these tapped of his immense organisational and managerial abilities. Therefore, he was President, Ikeja Lions Club (1993-1994);  and Zonal and Regional Chairman, Lions Club. (1994-1996), just to mention a few.

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (FCILT), UK, Sarumi is a holder of Nigerian National Honour of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR). Sarumi is currently the Chairman of Fobat Group of Companies, with interests in marine logistics and consultancy, real estate and agriculture. He offers consulting and advisory services in marine training, logistics and general administration.

 



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