The core mandate of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) may have taken a back seat as the fierce battle to control the soul of the super-rich government agency intensified.
The forced exit last week of the erstwhile Director- General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, has thrown up a macabre drama in which two of the three Executive Directors are at each other throat to control the enormous resources of the apex maritime regulatory body.
President Mohammed Buhari had last Thursday sacked Akpobolokemi and directed him to hand over to the most senior director in the agency.
Consequent on this, the former NIMASA czar, last week Tuesday, handed the staff of office to Barrister Callisus Obi, the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Caabotage Services, to hold forth till the substantive helmsman is appointed.
But barely three day as the acting DG, Obi was removed and Baba HarunaJauro, Executive Director Finance and Administration, was appointed.
Jauro had petitioned the presidency that , even though, all the three directors were appointed in July, 2012, but claimed that he was the most senior director, having resumed 24-hours before the others.
The Presidency found the claims of Jauro as correct and consequently asked him to take over the mantle of leadership at NIMASA.
This conflicting directive has however opened a gulf among the three directors who are now mutually suspicious of one another.
The development, Hallmark gathered, has polarized the agency along the support line for the gladiators.
Those who are in support of Barrister Obi in NIMASA were said to be livid with anger and regarded the action of Jauro as a coup against their benefactor while the supporters of Jauro were said to be regarding the other group as a potential threat who must be checked in their retaliatory move.
It was also learnt that Obi, who is still smarting from the” embarrassing situation ‘,’is said to have resolved to take back his own pound of flesh for what sources described as the humiliation visited on him by Jauro.
The development was said to have been more painful for Obi, who was said to have already launched a media campaign immediately he ascended the NIMASA high stool to launder his image to enhance his chances of retaining the coveted seat.
More disturbing was the unconfirmed report that the Igbo kinsmen of Obi felt slighted by the sudden removal of their ”son”, an action they claimed confirmed their long-held belif that the administration of President Buhari was out to ostracize them in his government.
The macabre drama in NIMASA has therefore created an acrimonious and tensed situation which has now stifled the performance of the agency.
”The Directors who are supposed to give direction to NIMASA, especially the acting DG, are now playing politics of survival to the detriment of the core functions of the agency”, a concerned stakeholder who craved for anonymity, told Hallmark.
The source, who is an insider, claimed that ”we are currently floating”, as the hitherto cohesive and strong command structure of the agency has recently been weakened by the latest in-fighting at the top echelon of the parastatal.
Although, the position of the third Executive Director of Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Ezekiel BalaAgaba, was not known in the melee, sources said he was not happy at the turn of event in the agency.
OsamgbiIsichie, the Deputy Director, Public Affairs of NIMASA could not be immediately reached for the official position of the agency.
Sources however said that the Presidency was clearly embarrassed by the unfolding drama at NIMASA and reportedly queried the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Transport for the mixed up.
It was also learnt that the Federal government has decided to immediate appoint a substantive Director- General to take over the affairs at the place in order to end the macabre dance going on at the agency.
However, maritime stakeholders have expressed disgust at what they described as the show of shame at NIMASA, asking government to quickly intervene.
The League of Maritime Editors on Monday proffered an extreme solution to the leadership duel at NIMASA when it called of the President to abolish the position of Executive Directors and appoint a home-grown substantive Director-General.
In a press statement sent to Hallmark, the President of the association, ,MrOvieEdomi, declared that the positions of EDs is ”a political post that has helped in entrenching corruption and conflict in the system”.
”Consequently, we call for the abolition of the Executive Director’s (EDs) position, a political post that has helped in entrenching corruption and conflict in the system. We equally call for the appointment of a NIMASA-groomed director-general, who is a maritime professional that understands the policy direction of the agency. By moral and professional standards, they are equally not qualified because all the EDs are part of the old order” Edomi noted.
Meanwhile, HarunaJauro, assumed duties as the acting DG of NIMASA yesterday.
In a press statement signed by Osamgbi, Jauro took over from Barrister Obi who will go down in history as the acting DG of NIMASA with the shortest tenure of three days.
While pledging his unreserved loyalty to the Acting DG, Mr Obi enjoined staff of the agency to support Mr. Haruna Baba Jauro. Barrister Obi assured that the excellent working relationship between him and the new Acting DG would continue in order to lift the agency to greater heights.
Mr. HarunaJauro expressed gratitude to President MuhammaduBuhari for the opportunity to serve the nation in his new capacity. He thanked staff of NIMASA for their commitment to duty and craved the cooperation of all for the realization of the mandate of the agency.
“I want to thank all staff of NIMASA for the commitment to the objectives of this agency and crave your cooperation so that together we can actualize the objectives for which the agency was set up” the Acting DG said.