By Stephen Ubanna
Muhazu Jaji Sambo, CON, an Engr. And an immediate past minister of Transportation from Taraba, home state of Theophilous Danjuma, a retired Army General and former minister of Defense, during former Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration , appears to have given an insight why he turned down the May 26, 2023, date proposed by the League of Maritime Editors, popular , LOME, to hold an ‘’Appreciation for him and Prince Ademola Adegoroye , the minister of state until he leaves office’’.
The Taraba state born Politician , who was said to have had a gubernatorial ambition at one -time in the state on the platform of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, had said that he was discouraged because he the League members want to use the opportunity of his ministerial position ‘’to grab some funds from him’’.
The Former minister of Transportation who was aid o have asked the Leadership of the Association to re-present the proposed Appreciation dinner to him on a later date after President Muhammadu Buhari, has dissolved the Federal Executive Council, FEC, for consideration.
He had expected Timothy Okorocha-Paul, the President of the League and his members, to completely drop the proposed Appreciation dinner for him and the minister of state since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu , has been sworn in on May 29, 2023, as Nigeria’s new President.Unknown to him, the League members were not interested in organizing the Appreciation dinner for him and the minister of state for their outstanding performance within a short stint in office.
Given the assurance by Elder Asu Beks and other close friends of the ministers’ who are members of the LOME, may have encouraged him to accept the Friday, June 9, 2023, date, slated for the Appreciation dinner at Eko Hotels and Suits in Lagos. The LOME, members who may have done their homework were said to have reached out to the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and other industry stakeholders, for support. The Association got it.
It was therefore not very surprising why the 400 people capacity Hall used for the Appreciation dinner for the two ministers at the Eko Hotels and Suits, was filled up that more chairs were brought in to accommodate more guests that had continued to arrive from different parts of the country , showing that ‘’Engr. Sambo is a man of the people’’
. One of the masquerades who was said to have graced the occasion was Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu, Chairman,House Committee, on NIMASA, who was said to have left all her official engagements in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory FCT, to be at the dinner in person.
Even Architect Ferdinand Agu and Cletus, Obi, both former Director Generals of the agency were said to have been present at the League organised Appreciation dinner for the two erstwhile ministers of Transportations to have a one-on –one interaction with them for their transformational effort in the nation’s maritime sector.
Magdalene Ajani, Permanent Secretary ministry of Transportation, and the ministry’s accounting officer, who addresses Engr. Sambo as ‘’Senior’’, following their secondary school days in In Maiduguri, Capital of present day, Borno state may have used the opportunity of the LOME, dinner , to describe the duo,Engr.Sambo and Adegoroye, the minister and minister of state, respectively, as ‘’jolly good fellows to work with and who do not carry the ministerial title on their head or look down on their staff, which shows their high ‘’level of humility’’.
Engr. Sambo, who was said to have worked at NPA and Nigerian Inland Water Ways Authority, NIWA, where he has headed the Lagos office until his retirement in 2021 and subsequent appointment by the Katsina state born Nigerian President as the minister of state, ministry of Works and Housing, under the close watch of Babatunde Fashola, a former governor of Lagos state and political ally of Tinubu, the incumbent Nigerian President is the minister.
Many believe that Engr.Sambo, has used his maritime background and opportunity of his redeployment to the ministry of Transportation in July 2022, as the substantive minister, of Transportation, following the resignation of Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of governor of Rivers state and the then minister to pursue his Presidential ambition on the platform of the APC, ‘’to establish himself as a performer and goal getter’’ alongside, Adegoroye, the minister of state.
The foursome, Emmanuel Jime, Executive Secretary, NSC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, Managing Director, Nigerian ailways Corrporation, NRC, , Muhammed Bello-Koko, his Couner-part , in NPA, and Bashir Jamoh, OFR, and Chief Executice Officer, CEO, of the NIMASA, were said to have used used the provided by the Appreciation dinner toeulogize the immediate past ministers of Transportation for their support , to get projects executed in their espective agencies.
Jime , a one-time member of the House of Representatives and the Executive Secretary , NSC, who had alluded ‘’to the rivalry among the CEOs, of the agencies under the ministry of Transportation’’ , had said that the former minister had stood his feet down to resolve the areas of frictions between the CEOs.
The NSC, boss who was said to have made reference to the Cargo Tracking Note, CTN, in which one or two of the agencies chief, were said to have opposed it. He had said that Engr. Sambo, used his position to get the Federal Executive Council, FEC,’’ to approve it for implementation by the NSC.
As a prelude to implementing the CTN, Jime , the NSC, Executive Secretary, was said to have assured ‘’shippers and manufacturers that shipping companies will bear the cost of the CTN when fully implemented’’. An Appreciative Jime, who was said to have started an unfinished quarrel, had made guests laugh uncontrollably when he asked question : who is a slave?.
He has alluded to the he Housa/ Fulanis’ claims that the Tivs are slaves In apparent response to Jime’s emotional outburst, the former minister of Transportation was said to have had asked him ‘’to cast his mind back to how he smuggled him in to his present position.
Notwithstanding, the verbal attacks , the NSC, helmsman had explained that Engr. Sambo could get the agency’’ to the point where it could be said that it is now in better position to begin the implementation of the CTN, noting that for six years, the agency have been pursuing the implementation of the CTN.
Engr. Okhria, the Managing Director, NRC, who was said to have been given the Microphone, going by the order of the programme, for the League Appreciation dinner for Engr.Sambo and Adegoroye, the minister of state, by Osagie Edward , an Assistant Director ,’’ to tell world what he knows about the duo and , working with them , had described them as a ‘’different set of top government functionaries, who carries everybody along.
The NRC, helsman noted that initially the bad thought that Engr.Sambo, will not want to have anything to do with him because of his close working relationship with Amaechi, a former minister of Transportation. He disclosed that the fear vanished after the minister and the minister of state had invited them for a closed door meeting where they were properly briefed about the activities of their respective agencies.
Bello-Koko, the NPA, Managing Director, who had said that he was not around within the very week the duo were appointed as substantive minister and minister of state in the ministry of Transportation. The NPA, boss, who had said that his heart stands still whenever he gets the minister’s call or invitation.
Making reference to how Engr. Sambo, the former minister of Transportation relates with him, particular, he had said that there was an incident in which the Taraba state born former minister of Transportation called him for discussionHe opined that that the discussion they had that day in question made him to understand that ‘’this is someone that could be upset with you today and the on the agency matters.
According to him for any agency Chief not to cross his path or play into his hands ‘’, you must always update him before committing funds into any project. This may have informed why Jamoh, the NIMASA, boss, had won his heart within the nine months he was in over as he was said to have always kept him abreast of the agency actions and projects earmarked for execution and the cost implication for approval.
The NIMASA, CEO, had cited the completion of its office complex at the FCT and Port Harcourt, which would save the scarce funds spent by the agency to pay for rented apartments on a yearly basis which runs into millions of naira.
Jamoh’s only regret , was that the former minister, who has t given the agency all the ministerial approval to achieve all that much is no longer in the office to Commission the Lokoja, Capital of Kogi state, in the north central geopolitical region.
The former minister , who was said to have worked closely with Sambo, , decribed as ,’’ Mr. Projects’’ , in Industry circles , had said said his Commitment towards capacity building and infrastructural facilities development , had led o the official ground-breaking ceremony of the Institute of Maritime Studies at the University of Lagos, south west Nigeria.
He may have gladdened the heart of the minister when he asserted that through his support and ministerial approval, no fewer than 300 of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme have been sent to Greece and the Asian country of India for training as ‘’Licensed Deck and Engine Officers , as well as Naval Architects’’.
Last May, Jamoh , led NIMASA, which is never tired of spending money on new projects , which was said to have had the approval of the former minister , celebrated by LOME , procured and commissioned five new Patrol and security boats , five refurbished , Search and Rescue /Pollution control boats , four staff ferries and Search and Rescue clinic and an Administrative building in Lagos.
Senator Tolu Adebiyi, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, who was said to have represented Boss Mustapha, a former Secretary to the g Government of the Federation, SGF, who ought to have the Appreciation diinner organised by the Maritime Journalist may have tried to pull Jamoh’s, legs, as he has tried to find out from him where he is getting money to finance the multi-million naira projects, that are regularly being Commissioned when other agencies are crying of paucity of funds.
This is where the trio, Chudi Offodile, Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Abdullahi Mustapha, Director, Financial Services and Mrs.Olamide Odusanya, Internal Audit, deserve Commendation for their strategic management of the agency funds and blocking areas of revenue leakage, thus making money available for the execution of industry stakeholder –oriented projects.
Perhaps, the greatest of the achievements of Engr. Sambo, in the nation’s maritime sector within the nine months in office was his singular efforts in securing the Presidential approval for the disbursement of the over $365 bilion, Cabotage Finance Fund, CVFF, to the indigenous ship owners, which Amaechi, the immediate past minister of Transportation failed to do. The former minister minister had said that he had secured the Presidential within a day, which was the fastest to e gotten by any minister that had served under the previous Administration. He had said that while there were some former ministers who had running battles with their Permanent Secretaries for heading the minstry’s Tender Board, but he never had any problem with Ajani, the ministry Permanent Secretary, who is a professional bureaucrat to the core.
An elated Jamoh, had said that Engr. Ambo had used the nine months in office ‘’to ensure that’’ the two critical components of the funds were on ground to facilitate its disbursement’’. Describing the former minister of Transportation as a workaholic, and Ajani, the Permanent Secretary as ‘’Margret Thacher’’ because of her no nonsense attitude, the NIMASA, Director General, had said that ‘’the Law guiding the funds and the regulations needed to be approved by the National approved had already been approved’’.
Indeed, with the ministerial support to the Jamoh led implementing agency of the CVFF, Jamoh was said to have worked the modalities with the Primary Lending Institutions, PLIs for the disbursement of the fund without furth delay.