NPA: DOES THE CENTRE HOLD?
As Vessels come and go undetected Even with SAA
From Covid19 disruptions to Endsars Protests and imposition of curfew by state governments, the Nigerian Maritime industry have had to contend with operational hiccups such as gridlocks unending, bad access roads, poor traffic management, absence of truck holding bays, corruption and other criminalities culminating in cargo diversion to neighboring countries even as Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman continues to assure stakeholders of better days to come.
With conflicting positions between the Board Chairman of NPA, Chief George Rickets and the MD on impact of the fire incident on operations of the Agency, it is clear even to the deaf and blind that these are not the best of times for Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman.
Who Knows Better-Rickets or Hadiza?
The Board Chairman is businessman, with interests in logistics and procurement for the oil and gas sector. He is also into road and constructions as well as being a farmer with over 100 hectares of farmland producing and processing palms and other cash crops.
Apart from being a former commissioner in Cross River State, he was, prior to his appointment at NPA, a senatorial and governorship aspirant under the All Progressives Congress, APC. He is reported to be a big time supporter and financier of the Party in his state.
On her part, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, apart from being a former Bring back our Girls crooner, very little else is known about her prior to her appointment as MD, NPA.
Thus, when the corporate headquarters of an Agency such as NPA is gutted by fire, who would you rather go with-the Board Chairman or the MD?
Few days after the fire incident Chief Ricketts observed “The attacks on the NPA House and its facilities at Tin Can Island could lead to major disruption of its activities and the port economy as a whole”.
For over a week after the incident, the MD was understandably too traumatized to speak. When she found her voice she said “the situation has not affected operations of the authority in any way as we have continued to render our services unhindered.”
We dare to ask, what is the role of the Managing Director, Executive Directors and General Managers and other management staff whose offices are at the Headquarters? Could they be earning so much for doing very little or nothing?
If NPA operations are not affected by the fire incident at it Marina House, it is clear that NPA management has no contributions to port operations in Nigeria.
The salaries and allowance of these top management staff at NPA and other such places could be reasons why so little is left for national development after salaries across Nigeria,
Could a Man’s fingers be burnt and his body unaffected?
If NPA operations are unaffected it means its staffs at the head office have been idle and uninvolved in day to day operations. Is it possible for an Agency to function optimally when Administrations and Operations are not in sync?
In its official statement on the incident signed by the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Engr. Jatto Adams, NPA said “After an assessment of the extent of damage, it was discovered that apart from the annex wing that was burnt, many offices were vandalized, while computers, printers, water dispensers and other electronic devices were looted”.
“A total of Twenty-seven (27) vehicles, including cars, utility vehicles, pick up vans and staff buses were set on fire, while Thirty-three (33) other vehicles, twenty-two of which belong to members of staff were vandalized. A Toyota Prado SUV, a Bajaj Motorcycle and one Hilux patrol van were also stolen from the premises.
All assets of the Authority are comprehensively insured, and insurers are currently undergoing an assessment of the damages.
Insurance: Twist in the Narrative
Industry publication Marine and Economy quoted the Ms. Hadiza thus “The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) may not be able to replace some of the materials she lost when hoodlums attacked its headquarters building on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 due to inadequate finances as its allocation has been slashed, while it now operates a Covid budget which is limited in scope”.
What does comprehensive insurance mean? Is the MD preempting something? Maritime stakeholders noted that her statement on insurance is weighty and pregnant.
A journalist’s Account: MD’s Office Vandalized
“While being conducted round the burnt building, it was discovered that the board room, including many offices and many archival materials were razed, while the office of the Managing Director was also vandalized”.
“The Managing Director pointed out that apart from what was burnt, and the vehicles that were taken away, air conditioners, Television sets, Computers, tables, refrigerators, printers, water dispensers, electronic devices among others were also stolen. Shola Fadeyi, Marine and Economy, reports.
It is a mystery that an Agency could suffer these setbacks and operate optimally as insinuated by Hadiza.
It is either she is being economical with the truth or NPA lacks operational sync.
Vessels Come and Go Undetected: Nave Andromeda and the Stowaways
If not for eagle eyed UK Marine officials, the story of MT Nave Andromeda visiting Nigerian ports may never have surfaced even as the Multi billion Naira Secured Anchorage Area contract runs unchallenged as efforts by NPA to quash the SAA contract has been stoutly resisted.
Ocean Marine Solution Limited, OMSL, is in charge of the SAA.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi seems helpless too as he lamented the adverse effects of the contract on cost of doing port business in Nigeria.
Nave Andromeda brought NNPC wet cargo to Nigeria, discharged midstream and left Nigeria only for stowaways to be discovered on Board the Vessel in UK waters.
Following denials and claims that the stowaways on board were Nigerians, we contacted Maritime Agency officials for clarifications.
Whereas NIMASA has kept mum on the vessel, NPA told us exclusively that the Vessel, after checks on their charts and records was not captured as having visited any of Nigerian Ports.
Again, the General Manager, Corporate Communication, NPA, Engr. Adams Jatto in response to our enquiry said “We have investigated the vessel MT “Nave Andromeda” and below is our findings:
“The vessel was not declared in any of the ports. The vessel did not apply for e-SEN (Electronic Ship Entry Notice) in the SEN offices of the Authority. The vessel did not report her arrival to NPA neither was the vessel attended to by NPA as the Authority was not informed so she did not berth in any of the Ports”.
Curiously and astonishingly so, Pinnacle Time (industry publication) findings revealed that the tanker carrying NNPC cargo arrived Lagos on 18th September 2020 having departed Antwerp Port Belgium on 2nd September 2020. Top impeccable sources note that upon its arrival, the ship was escorted and guarded by personnel of the Nigerian Navy who remained with it throughout its ship-to-ship mid-stream operation at 15 mile location.
Neither NPA, NIMASA nor any other Federal Government Agency has disputed this assertion.
Dawn of Robotics?
Evidently, if vessels come and go, if offices are razed and vandalized, if computers and other working tools are lost and even if staffs don’t come to work, NPA operations are unaffected, it is either the raging storm and turbulence has impacted the MD severely or robots run operations for NPA-putting a big question mark on the salaries and allowances enjoyed by persons whose contribution to national revenue is zero?