By Innocent Orok
Political gladiators are at it again. There is an opening in a goldmine, money spinning agency, which is estimated to have been generating over N300bn annually.
Since its creation in 2007 , politicians have discovered the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to be a cash cow, especially to foot campaign bills and other frivolous expenses with funny subheads as expenditure profiles.
Tension is high, lobbying is being intensified, the Aso Rock Villa ‘Cabals’ are reviewing the status. Who will be the next NIMASA Director General?
Can Dr Dakuku Peterside clinched a second term in office?. Can his godfather, Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation and two time Campaign Director to President Buhari, beats the daring Cabals to retain the status quo?
Since its creation in 2007, no DG of NIMASA has secured a second term in office , except Patrick Akpolobokemi, whom Goodluck Jonathan reappointed in 2015 after the PDP lost the presidential election. But ‘Apos’ was sacked immediately the All Progressive Congress (APC) took over government in May 2015. He was subsequently arrested and arraigned by the EFCC along others for various misappropriation of funds and money laundering to the tune of over N10bn.
The NIMASA also has a common demeaning factor in its trend, that aside from the past DGs not getting their second term in office, they are always sacked unceremoniously, afterwards they all face EFCC. From Mfon Usoro to Ade Dosunmu, to Temisan Omatseye and Patrick Akpolobokemi, all have gotten their fair share of the EFCC treatment after office. If Dakuku fails to secure reappointment, will he also go the same way of his predecessors.?
Dr Dakuku Peterside is the 5th DG of the nineteenth years old agency and the second to complete his first tenure in office, taking after Patrick Akpolobokemi.
Peterside was appointed as the DG of NIMASA on March 10th 2016, after a turbulent time of lobbying which saw two Executive Directors of the Agency Callistus Obi and Jauro fighting to secure acting DG position of the money spinning agency.
NIMASA also has a history of being led by Politicians and non maritime professionals, except Mfon Usoro who is a Maritime Lawyer and Temisan Omatseye who owns vessels. Both were shown the way out in less than two years in the agency as they could not survive the political pressures and contracts racketeering practice in the system. In facts, while Mfon Usoro , the pioneer DG of the agency serves only nine months, Omatseye was sacked controversially after just two years and some months in office as NIMASA DG.
DOES DAKUKU PETERSIDE DESERVES SECOND TERM IN OFFICE?
This is the knacking question in the lips of both maritime stakeholders and the political class who have the sole power to either relieve Dakuku Peterside of his appointment or give him a second tenure in office.
For many maritime stakeholders, the Dakuku Peterside regime has not brought the desired change as a regulatory agency in the sector. Some have said that NIMASA under Dakuku is about seminars, award parties and media hype without physical performance to show for it.
Many are quick to point at the high rate of piracy in Nigeria waters unchallenged. Non disbursement of the CVFF, failure to establish a national shipping line as promised by the Transportation Minister in 2015 and failure to secure a seat at Category C of the IMO, despite huge expenses expanded on it.
Other odds that may stand against Dakuku Peterside reappointment are alleged wasteful spending on parties and awards, non submission of Management Audit report to the Auditor General’s Office since 2015 as discovered by the House of Representatives Committee and his inability to proffer solutions to various problems facing the shipping business in Nigeria.
Politically, if Dakuku Peterside gets his second term in office, automatically his tenure will out leave the Buhari administration . While President Buhari will leave office in May 2023, Dakuku if reappointed for the next four years will terminate in March 2024.
Politicians and the alleged Cabals are studying the situation, should Dakuku be given a chance , of whose interest will he represent in 2023 and beyond?
Has he been fair to the ‘System’ in his last four years in office? Apart from his benefactor, Rotimi Amaechi, who else has Dakuku been fraternising with politically and can they help him break the jinx ?
The stakes are very high, NIMASA is for ‘Sale’ again, Nigerians may witnessed a surprise appointment . But, whichever is the case, the Maritime sub sector needs a Performing Director General at NIMASA.