The birth of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in 2007 was as controversial as its almost three years of existence and having already recorded two chief executives and three chairmen.
The progenitor of NIMASA is the National Maritime Authourity (NMA) which also had the misfortune of unstable leadership. Between 1987 and 2006 when it was eventually merged with the then Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC), it had at least six director’s general.
Before the name NIMASA was eventually adopted by stakeholders, the agency had borne the name: National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NAMASA). This was to be dropped for the current nomenclature of NIMASA courtesy of Act 17 of 2007.
A couple of years ago when Mr. Ferdinand Agu was removed and Engr. Charles Ugwu (now late) was appointed, an alarm was raised about the presence of banana peel at the then-NMA. Walking (or is it working) so cautiously, late Ugwu could only be smart for a short while, he fell to the intrigues of the powers- that- be, the politicians, the contractors and powerful stakeholders; including (sadly) the media.
Back to where we started from, that is, the birth of NIMASA which was the climax of weeks, running into months of intense lobbying between parties who are sympathetic to the interests of JOMALIC and those who were bent on entrenching the status quo ante called NMA.
The emergence of both Alhaji Tijjani Ramalan and Mrs Mfon Ekong Usoro as the first board chairman and the pioneer director general respectively was probably the first banana peel that the powers-that-be laid on the marble floors of the number 4, Burma Road, Apapa head office of the agency.
Intrigues, power-play, treachery were the hallmark of the short-lived tenure of the pioneer headship of NIMASA, and history have it that the emergence of Usoro’s successor; Dr Ade Dosunmu is intricately connected to the treacherous interplay of forces from within and from outside of NIMASA.
Since the exit of Dr Dosunmu last Thursday, many have recalled his recent face-off with the Senate committee on marine transport over budget related issues, others have fingered the fact that power has since changed from the hands of those who facilitated his emergence as the director general to other places and that he may have ran out of favour.
Whatever anyone says, NIMASA has the unenviable records of high turn out of chief executive officers. This is always because once the chief executive sets in, he or she is either overwhelmed by the plethora of interests or consumed by the same fire that he had helped to stoke. A few examples will suffice here.
Mr. John Patrick Egesi was removed as the director general of NMA in 1999 shortly after the return of democratic dispensation by the then-minister of transport, Dr (Mrs.) Kema Chikwe in pure pursuit of appointing a political god son of a high profile politician. His replacement was Dr George Eneh who was also removed by Chikwe’s successor, Chief Ojo Maduekwe to pave way for his play mate in Abuja, Mr. Ferdinand Agu. Agu was shoved out in what still remains the fiercest lobby in history for the soul of NMA. He lost to Engineer Festus Ugwu- the political godson of the then- governor of Enugu state, Dr Chimaraoke Nnamani.
As pointed out earlier, and just like the above, the tenure from Ugwu to Usoro and to Dosunmu was a battle against the banana peel that was well laid out by politicians, insider black legs, god fathers and god sons.
As for the newly appointed director general, Mr. Raymond Temisanre Omatseye, it is only a matter of time before the peel is laid –out waiting for the next fall.