NIMASA has lost focus, needs urgent rescue — Director

Credit to Ship & Port

A Director at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said the agency, under its former Director-General Bashir Jamoh, “totally lost focus” and is in need of “urgent rescue”.

The Director, who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS on condition of anonymity, said over the past four years, NIMASA abandoned its core mandates and became a mere contract-awarding agency to the detriment of the maritime sector.

“You only hear about the Deep Blue Project but we all know that project was the brainchild of former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. The credit for the reduction in piracy in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea therefore goes to Amaechi and the Nigerian Navy.

“Unfortunately, under the past DG, NIMASA cannot point to any concrete achievement in terms of its core mandates. The implementation of the Cabotage law and disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF) was not done; the ship registry remains as it has been for many decades; shipping development, which is a focal mandate of NIMASA, was abandoned. Even the deployment of the floating dock acquired more than five years ago remains a mirage. So there is no concrete achievement that NIMASA can point to under Bashir Jamoh.

“The former DG also sidelined Directors. He used their juniors, who were his cronies, to head departments. It is a most unfortunate development. In my over 30 years of service, I never experienced this kind of thing before. It is very bad. There was too much focus on man-know-man and on contract awards. Everything is contracted in NIMASA now. That is why there has been so much attention on the agency, and this has damaged its reputation.

“The new DG has a lot of work to do. First, he needs to reorganize the agency and bring back professionalism. Directors must be made to head departments and the issue of using cronies must be brought to an end,” the senior NIMASA official said.

He also called on the new NIMASA Director General, Dr. Dayo Mobereola, to review the relocation of the agency’s head office to Victoria Island.

He said, “Apapa is where more than 70% of our primary stakeholders are. The remaining 30% are outside Lagos. It therefore does not make any sense to relocate the agency to Victoria Island, and then the staff will be commuting to Apapa to do their work. It does not add up. I pray the new DG will look into this matter dispassionately and move the head office back to Apapa.

“Also, the new head office building in Victoria Island is about half the size of the one we have at Burma Road. So I don’t see any value in moving there. It doesn’t even have a waterfront we can say we will use a boat to shuttle between the place and Apapa. So what is the rationale behind this decision?”

Recall that on June 7, 2023, SHIPS & PORTS exposed how the former Director General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, allegedly ran the agency as if it were a private fiefdom rather than a public organization.

The SHIPS & PORTS report exposed how Jamoh relegated the roles of many of the agency’s substantive Directors to heads of units while he enthroned their subordinates, who were seen as his acolytes, to serve as heads of departments.

In government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), departments are usually headed by Directors (or General Managers as the case may be) while units are headed by Deputy Directors or Assistant Directors. However, in Jamoh’s NIMASA, the reverse was the case.

At the time of publishing the report, investigations by SHIPS & PORTS revealed that NIMASA had 12 substantive Directors – more than enough to head the agency’s nine departments but only three of them were allowed by Jamoh to head departments while the others were mere heads of units contrary to civil service norms.

Under the erstwhile Director General, Deputy Directors served as heads of six major departments of the agency. The Departments in NIMASA, as listed in the agency’s organogram exclusively obtained by SHIPS & PORTS are Cabotage Services, Maritime Labour Services, Administration and Human Resources, Financial Services as well as Planning, Research, and Data Management Services. The others are Maritime Safety and Seafarers’ Standard, Shipping Development, Marine Environment Management, and Legal Services/Board Secretariat.

An investigation by SHIPS & PORTS revealed that Jamoh placed Deputy Directors to head those departments considered to be “juicy”.

The Deputy Directors in charge of the six “juicy” departments in the agency were Hamisu Gambo (Administration and Human Resources), Abdullahi Mustapha (Financial Services), Danjuma Babah (Procurement), Khurason Inuwa (Shipping Development), Aliyu Lawan (Maritime Labour Services) and Taiwo Olaniyan (Maritime Safety & Seafarers Standards).

SHIPS & PORTS had also exposed how Jamoh installed only workers of northern origin as heads of the agency’s four zones and Abuja Office. Also, all but one of the agency’s Port Service Controllers in all four zones were northerners, with most of them being indigenes of Kaduna State like the former Director General. You can read the full report here.

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