By virtue of their positions and/or the status of the organisations that they head, the following personalities and organisations shall be in the radar in 2018. The roles that they played in 2017, their action or inactions, coupled with expectations of maritime industry stakeholders will certainly put them and/or organisation under watch.  Assistant Editor; Dapo Olawuni unveils some of those that will play prominent roles in 2018.  

Hadiza Bala Usman Of The NPA

No doubt, whatever apprehension that met her appointment have all been doused, except for incurable critics, who may still think that she has not justified her  choice as the first  female Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Ports Authourity(NPA).

Hadiza Bala Usman has in the course of doing her job stepped on toes. That has to be, especially if you want results. Her stand against logistics service providers; INTELS is by far the most pronounced, but she had taken on a lot more issues and ‘enemies’ since she was appointed.

Of course, she enjoys the firm confidence of her employers (the President and the Minister of Transport, especially). She also has the Governor of Kaduna state watching her back.

While she may have her way in all she does at the NPA, the strategic position of year 2018 in the general elections of 2019 may put the NPA boss in more ‘trouble’ than limelight. She is rumoured to have political ambition, this makes her a soft target for the opposition.  It is not unexpected that she would be accused of inactivity; opposition may come hard on lapses in port operations and bad access into the ports. 

The main opposition party (PDP) may fight dirty, especially if former VP Atiku Abubakar gets the party’s ticket.  All in all Hadiza Balla Usman is too politically exposed to be ignored in 2018. 

Dakuku Peterside Of NIMASA

Dr Dakuku Adolphous Peterside (DAP); the incumbent Director General of NIMASA never hides the fact that he wants to be Governor of Rivers State, having contested once.  Of course, his appointment was a compensation for losing the governorship elections to Nyeson Nwike in 2015.Of course, since he lost the Rivers elections in 2015, Dakuku Peterside and the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike have been at each other's throat.

Since he was appointed as DG, he has left no one in doubt that his attention is needed more in Rivers state than at NIMASA or the Nigerian maritime industry.  He has been unequally dividing his time between Rivers politics and the maritime industry. 

His biggest achievement is his emergence as Chairman of Association of African Maritime Administrators (AAMA) in April 2017. His lowest was the failure of Nigeria at the December 2017 Council elections of the IMO. To say that the loss of IMO Council election will hunt the DG of NIMASA is to say the obvious. 

As the 2019 elections draw near, attention will be more on Dakuku as politician from Rivers than on Dakuku as the DG of NIMASA.Maritime industry stakeholders have equally criticized the NIMASA DG of being distracted by his political expedition in Rivers; they say he has little or no time for his national assignment.

For these reasons, Dr Dakuku Peterside is a must-watch in 2018.

 The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) 

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents which prides itself as the oldest freight forwarding group is set to hold its national elections in 2018. 

For ANLCA, every election year is a year of intrigues and apprehension.

It has been confirmed that the association has zoned its presidency to members who operate from the South East after its incumbent president, Prince Olayiwola Shittu who hails from the South West. He is billed to vacate office in March.

Two candidates from South East are currently jostling for the coveted seat of the President; they are: a member of the association’s Board of Trustees; Mr. Tony Iju Nwabunike and incumbent vice president; Mr. Emenike Nwokeji. For the Vice presidency which has been zoned to South West, two ex-chairmen of Tin Can Port chapter; Prince Kayode Oyinlola and Dr. Kayode Farinto are expected to slug it out. Former Chairman of the Association Electoral Committee (ASECO); Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila is reportedly gunning to become the Secretary General of the association. 

Meanwhile, there are rumours that the association’s incumbent Secretary General; Dr. Oparah Ogu is also interested the position of President. He was even rumoured to be the favourite of the incumbent President; Prince Olayiwola Shittu.  Shittu is acknowledged to have raised the bar with his sterling performances. 

We are told that one of the aspirants for the position of President has opened a branch of his business in Lagos, a reminder of what Shittu did in 2010.

The association is too strategic in the Nigerian maritime, aviation and associated businesses to be left alone to just anyone to lead. Probably that is why the coming elections are very crucial. 

In politics, three months is still a long time, a lot of alliances and re-alliances are expected, but the elections and the personalities that will eventually mount the saddle puts ANLCA in the radar too.  Kaduna Inland Dry Port:  

If there is anything for which the Nigerian Shippers Council would be happy for, it is the commissioning of the first dry port in Nigeria. After so much delay, President Muhammadu Buhari on January 4th, 2018 commissioned the Inland Dry Port in Kakuri, Kaduna State. For the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, it is a dream come true after almost two decades of conception.

According to its promoters, the project is expected to generate over 5,000 direct employments with capacity to handle 29,000 tonnes of cargoes yearly. However, maritime stakeholders have argued that without a functional rail system from the ports to Kaduna, the dry port may not enjoy the anticipated patronage. For instance, the manifest for cargoes destined for the ICD Kaduna would read ‘Lagos/Kaduna’, meaning that such cargoes would first land in the Lagos port from where they would be moved to the Kaduna ICD without examination. Considering the bad state of Apapa port roads, It will be very expensive to do business at Kaduna ICD. 

The challenge of available and efficient rail system (which is beyond the Nigerian Shipper’s Council or the concessionaires of the Kaduna facilities) may put the dry port (and of course the Shippers’ Council) in a tight corner in 2018.  

 The CRFFN And Its New Board: 

Since its creation more than one decade ago, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has known little or no peace.  It last had a Governing Board about six years ago. Since then, all efforts to stabilize it have failed.

Every year, the CRFFN has remained a body to watch for the same reasons. Last year, the issues were not different from those of the previous years.  But the recent constitution of its governing board came as a shock to many. President Muhammadu Buhari recently appointed Hon. Donatu Ozoemena, Benson Edosomwan, Abubakar Tsanni, Hassan Jonga, Sen. Bisi Oyewo and Otunba Moshood Tijani. 

However, many see this development from two perspectives - it may be what it is needed to reinvigorate the Council.  The new board is populated by politicians with no idea of freight forwarding or even the CRFFN, maybe its albatross. Out of the lot, only Otunba Moshood Tijani is a known freight forwarder. He was also member of the old Governing Council. 

Statutorily, the chairman of the Governing Council of CRFFN must come from elected members. For having a half-filled governing council that excludes statutory members who must be practitioners, and for having a governing council that can not have a chairman, the CRFFN is in for a lot more crises in 2018. It’s very prominent on the watch list. 

 Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron: 

Another outfit to watch out for in 2018 is the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron, Akwa Ibom State. The Federal Government in 2017 appointed a Rector for the academy in person of Comdr Duja Ifedua. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi simultaneously set up an Interim Management Committee headed by Chief Adebayo Sarumi to function side-by-side with the new Rector of the academy. But since the appointments were announced, the academy has been plunged into further crisis. The indigenes of Oron held several protests to kick against the action of the minister; they argued that an indigene of Oron should have been appointed as Rector. 

For an academy that has not known peace since the demise of its Rector; Dr Joshua Okpo, the minister erred in the appointment of a management committee to superintend over the Rector. The indigenes are absolutely ignorant that the academy even though located in Oron, does not belong to Oron, Akwa Ibom or the South-South. It is a Nigerian institution. The power play and intrigues which have been playing out since the demise of Okpo, coupled with others issues firmly puts MAN Oron on the watch list in 2018. 

 Palletization Policy: 

The Federal Government in 2017 directed all containerized cargoes coming into Nigeria to be on pallets.

According to Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, this would aid manual examination of consignments while the country awaits the acquisition and installation of functional scanners at the seaports and land borders. However, stakeholders in the maritime sector, especially the Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) kicked against the policy, their argument is that the policy would lead to high freight rates because a cargo that ordinarily should be stuffed in a single container would require two or more containers. The other argument by the stakeholders is that Palletization would encourage invasion of port and terminals by rodents and pests. It is an ill-conceived policy that is likely to raise dusts in 2018.

 The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders

Since December 2017, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has been upbeat with preparations for chapter elections. According to the association’s National Electoral Committee (NECOM) the chapter elections are expected to hold in February 2018. Chairman of the committee, Okey Nerus has promised a free and fair outing at all chapters.

Issues of alleged godfatherism and threat to lives of contestants are already playing up as campaigns hot up. 

Perhaps, in an attempt  to  further shake-off the toga  of being a tribal group, many  new faces are coming up and the elections might see the emergence of freight forwarders from ‘other tribes’ taking strategic positions in NAGAFF.

For instance, at the Apapa chapter, a contestant, Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim has picked a nomination form. Until late last year when he was booted out of the association over allegation of forgery, Tanko was the chairman of Apapa chapter of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents. 

Whatever happens with its chapter elections, NAGAFF will remain prominent and it will remain an institution to watch in 2018. Reason: It continues to have a body of elected chapter leaders and selected national executives. This is a novel brand of democracy that is unique only to the association.