Ship owners, Master Mariners, others shun NIMASA, NPA boards inauguration

Ship owners, Master Mariners, others shun NIMASA, NPA boards inauguration
• ISAN to sue FG over Kefas’ appointment
• Anenih promises rapid transformation of NPA

The atmosphere inside the Lagos Hall of the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, last Thursday afternoon, could have easily passed for a political rally rather than the inauguration of the Boards of Directors of very serious and business-oriented government agencies – the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The crowd surged.
The traditional institution was not left out, with the Dein of Agbor, His Royal Majesty Benjamin Ikechukwu Keagborekuzi I, standing out conspicuously among the royals.
The youthful Chairman of the new Board of NIMASA, Agbu Kefas, a retired Lieutenant-Colonel of the Nigerian Army (NA), was obviously overjoyed by his appointment.
Kefas stormed the venue of the inauguration with more than 200 guests.

NIMASA had to hire a separate hall to keep most of the guests away from the main arena.
Different stories also flew around the venue about the manner and circumstances surrounding the exit of Kefas from the Army.
But conspicuously missing from the crowd were the professionals in the maritime industry that the new boards had been appointed to serve.
Unlike what obtained in the past, prominent maritime industry operators and associations, including the Indigenous Association of Nigeria (ISAN), the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMAREST) all shunned the event.
Their action may not be unconnected with criticisms trailing the appointment of the relatively unknown Lieutenant-Colonel Agbu Kefas (rtd) as Chairman of the NIMASA Board; and controversial politician, Chief Tony Anenih, to head the Board of the NPA.
Anenih, however, seems ready to surprise his critics.

Speaking on behalf of the members of both boards, the former Minister of Works promised rapid implementation of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda at the NPA.
“We are aware of the responsibility of our appointment and we understand the pivotal roles that these agencies play in the Nigerian economy. While thanking Mr. President for considering us fit for these appointments, I wish to assure him, on behalf of my colleagues, that we will put in our best in the service of this nation,” Anenih stated.
Earlier in his address, Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, said that the appointment of the new Board members has come at a time when the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan is being vigorously pursued.
Umar said that the maritime sector remains a key sector of the economy, whose enormous potentials need to be further harnessed to meet the expectation of government.

He said: “It is in realisation of its contribution to the nation’s GDP and the numerous potentials that Mr. President decided to host a Maritime Sector Retreat in July 2012. The retreat provided a unique opportunity for stakeholders to identify and highlight challenges and offered suggestions on how to move the industry forward based on four key issues namely safety and security, local content and cabotage, ports and customs and revenue enhancement.
“These are the four modules upon which specific findings and recommendations were premised. Let me use this opportunity to inform you that the outcome of the Retreat is currently receiving necessary government attention.
At the appropriate time and in no distant future, an approved Action Plan on the Implementation Strategy would be made public.”
Government, according to the Minister, is bestowing enormous responsibilities on the chairmen and members of the boards of the two agencies.

“As Governing Boards, you owe it a duty to the Government and indeed the nation, to effectively guide the agencies in implementing Government policies and programmes in line with the mandate of the agencies.
“As you are aware, Mr. President has signed Performance Agreement with all Ministers on specific deliverables in his resolve to transform and change the approach to governance in such a way that each sector is challenged to deliver not only on the input and output but also the outcome and indeed the direct impact of each project to the citizenry. The Performance Agreement is cascaded down between the Ministers and all Directors of all the Ministry and Heads of Parastatals. As members of the Boards of Directors of the Agencies, you are expected to acquaint yourselves with the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Specific to your Agencies and assiduously work towards meeting the targets set in the Performance Agreement,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, ISAN has threatened to sue the Federal Government over the appointment of Kefas as NIMASA Board Chairman.
General Secretary of ISAN, Captain Niyi Labinjo, said that the association is heading for the law court because the appointment contravenes the NIMASA Act of 2007.

Labinjo also lambasted the Federal Government for politicising appointments into the boards of the maritime agencies, even as he stated that the appointment of Anenih and Kefas was a clear indication that government has been taking a dangerous political gamble with the shipping sector.
“Labinjo stated: Why we do not expect anything from this government is because the morning shows the day.
A government that can bring Tony Anenih as Chairman of the Board of NPA, despite his poor outing the first time, a government that can bring a Lieutenant-Colonel to head NIMASA, despite copious provisions in the law that you cannot be a member of the board of maritime agencies if you do not have maritime discipline or training, cannot be said to be serious about developing the sector.
“What value is retired Lieutenant-Colonel Kefas bringing to NIMASA? What value did Anenih add to NPA in his first outing? What value will he bring now?”
He said that, despite the Presidential, Maritime Retreat hosted by Jonathan last year, where ISAN led other stakeholders to educate the President on the importance of shipping and on measures to adopt to advance the cause of the maritime industry, “the President still condescended to taking retrogressive actions as can be seen in his appointments into the boards of sensitive agencies like NIMASA and NPA.”

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