In the twilight of the tenure of former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, some aggrieved staff of the agency sent a petition to the Federal Ministry of Transport alleging what they called “absurd personnel management practice by the executives of NIMASA”.
The workers accused Akpobolokemi and members of the NIMASA executive management team of recruiting into key positions without advertising vacancies and favouring a certain region of the country in total disregard to the principle of Federal Character.
The workers accused their former Director-General of adopting a personnel administration system that was “alien to both public and private sector personnel management practice in Nigeria and perhaps beyond”.
“The approach by the team from 2010 turned logic upside down in personnel practice. It is on record that the Director-General conducted personnel management as a personal and private business where all known procedures and relevant establishment committees in decision-making process on personnel matters were set aside.
“The grand design to eliminate certain sections of the workforce either on ethnic or regional grounds should not be allowed or encouraged in the agency,” the workers stated.
Akpobolokemi, according to the workers, employed mostly his kinsmen and cronies and placed them at Grade Levels far above their qualifications.
“Taking a closer look into the details of the newly recruited officers, one can easily see that in an ideal set up, none of the beneficiaries merited the positions given to them if based on entry qualification into public service, year of graduation, stint in public service and federal character principle,” they further alleged.
With regards to staff promotion, the petitioners also accused the former Director-General of being selective and parochial.
They claimed that some newly employed Assistant Directors and Deputy Directors were promoted to the next grade level barely a year or so after their assumption of office.
“The strategy adopted is by piecemeal postings and periodic staff movement in acting capacity for some officers from one department to another under the guise of repositioning exercise. After a little while (usually not up to one year), the favoured officers will be presented for confirmation to a substantive Grade Level,” the workers added in their petition.
These allegations are serious and came as a surprise to many Nigerians.
It is indeed absurd that while some officers of the agency have been on the same Grade Levels for upwards of 10 years, others were recruited and promoted to the next Grade Level within a year.
There is the reported case of two persons who both graduated in 2004, did their youth service together and were both employed almost at the same time into NIMASA. One was said to have been placed on Grade Level 9 while the other was employed as an Assistant Director on Grade Level 15. There is absolutely no rationale for this absurdity.
The former Director General’s penchant for disregarding civil service rules and regulations, the Federal Character principle and even the principle of fairness has only succeeded in polarizing NIMASA – dividing the agency along ethnic lines and creating suspicion among the workers. This is distracting and must not be allowed to continue.
It has therefore become imperative for the current management of the agency led by Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who was appointed to head the nation’s apex maritime regulatory agency on March 10 2016, to redress the wrongs done by the previous administration by right-sizing the agency.
Peterside will etch his name in gold by placing all employees on the levels appropriate to their experience and qualifications. He must also ensure that those who have stagnated on the same Grade Level for more than four years are promoted.
Professionalism and merit, rather than parochial interests or ethnic consideration, must be the watchword at the federal government agency.
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