GROUP ALLEGES GANG-UP AGAINST NIMASA BOSS
A Lagos-based group, Ijaw Rights Agenda, has alleged that some interests not comfortable with the appointment of Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi as Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) are plotting to frustrate him.
In a statement signed by Mr. Iritei Imotongha and Macjuila MacChaty, its Execuitive Director and spokesman respectively, IRA said those behind the plot would fail.
The group claimed: 'Investigations have revealed that these interest groups, which are both from within and outside NIMASA, are fully determined not to only make the organisation unmanageable for him (Akpobolokemi), but also to instill fear in him to make him resign voluntarily, so as to pave the way for their own candidate.
'The interest group's plan is to ensure that NIMASA is left crisis-ridden…As such, they have selected some media to air and publish falsehood and distorted information on the person of the new DG and NIMASA as an institution. Meanwhile, they have also planned to make use of some internal civil servants to mislead the director-general in terms of programmes and policy implementation, so that at the end of the day, they would in turn state that he has failed in his responsibilities.'
The Ijaw group, however, advised those behind the move to back down, as the plot would hit the rocks.
'IRA wishes to educate those who are involved in this unholy gang-up against the NIMASA boss to have a rethink, as Mr. Akpobolokemi's elevation is a well-deserved appointment and a call to national service, which every Nigerian is entitled to if he or she is qualified.
'The DG is a former lecturer and Head of Department (HOD) of Business Administration at the Niger Delta University in Amassoma, Bayelsa State. Mr. President, in his wisdom, knew that the administrator was capable of handling and managing the affairs of NIMASA and has the pedigree, qualification and experience to handle the mantle of leadership at NIMASA before he was appointed. IRA would not stand akimbo and watch a situation where any Nigerian would be intimidated due to his tribe, race, colour or religion and appeals to all well-meaning stakeholders to give the new DG maximum support to take NIMASA to greater heights.'
In another development, Akpobolokemi has pledged his readiness to enhance the fortunes of Nigerian maritime players by activating the Coastal and Inland (Cabotage) Act and ensuring security of the nation's navigable waters. The Cabotage Act was passed by the National Assembly in 2003 to protect local maritime stakeholders against the stiff competition from foreign players in the sector by restricting vessels in domestic coastal trade to Nigerians.
The act provides that, 'A vessel other than a vessel wholly owned and manned by Nigerian citizens, built and registered in Nigeria shall not engage in the domestic coastal carriage of cargo and passengers within the coastal territorial inland waters, or any point within the waters of the exclusive economic zone of Nigeria.'
But apart from failing to generate tangible results in the maritime sector in line with its conceptualisation since 2003, foreigners have compounded the woes of their Nigerian counterparts by reportedly engaging in illicit maritime business in the country.
Akpobolokemi, however, assured newsmen in Lagos that his administration was capable of changing the trend and executing the Cabotage mandate of NIMASA.