By Stephen Ubanna
For years, past and present Managing Directors of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, had turned the Authority Corporate and Strategic Department as an operational Department by appointing Staff with with Engineering background and Auditors to Head the Department.
Between 2010 and April, 2021, it has been from one Engineer, to another or Auditor, being appointed as the General Manager and Head the Authority Corporate and Strategic Communications Department, thus making mistakes here and there because they do not understand the language of Public and Media Relations. Even when the Professionals who had been in the system for years tried to put them through,they had proved too difficult to change from the engineering, Finance and Auditor’s Language to the Public Relations and Media Language to be able to fit into the system.
The fallout was that the agency lost its position as the media and Public Relations pride of the nation’s maritime agencies of the Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state led ministry of Transportation. The situation was so bad that as the agency had continued to receive bashing from the Media which became too worrisome to the Management as one external Consultant or the other was engaged to address the situation.
Take for instance, Hajia Hadiza Bala, Usman, a former Managing Director of the Authority had worked with Engineer Jato Adams, now retired as the General Manager and of the Authority Corporate and Strategic Communications. Last April, Hajia Usman, had appointed Olaseni Alakija, a Non-Public Relations person, to Head the Department following the retirement of Adams from the agency after cloaking the mandatory 35 years required by Law.
Bello-Koko, acting Managing Director of the Authority and who incidentally was the agency Executive Director, Finance And Administration, during the former Hajia Usman led Management Team may have watched the performance of the Engineers and Auditors that have Headed the Department and thus, did not want to make the same mistakes of his Predecessors by appointing another Engineer or Non –Public Relations Staff to Head the Professional Department.
This may have informed why he had decided to break the jinx by appointing Ibrahim Nasiru, who had served as an Assistant General Manager under two or three of the General Managers , and at different times has been signing the Authority officially issued Statement to the press . He was said to have also served at different times as acting General Manger of the Department when the position became vacant following the retirement of the Substantive Head of the Department.
Recall that in the press release he had issued last April when Alakija, was appointed to replace Engineer Adams, who had retired from the agency, he has given it a Professional touch by stating that ‘’it is in furtherance of the management’s commitment to motivating its workforce and building a formidable succession plan in line with the Federal Character principle’’.
True to the Statement, barely eight months after he had issued the Statement, it was his turn to succeed Alakija, the former General Managing overseeing the Department who retired from the Authority. Nasiru, according to a Statement issued by the Authority and signed by him was among the seven Assistant General Managers, elevated to the position of General Managers and Heads of Department.Signs that Nasiru, may succeed Alakija, the former General Manager, emerged about four months ago, when he started overseeing the activities of the Department following his retirement from the Authority.
He may have won the heart of Bello-Koko, the Authority acting Managing Director and the entire Management Team, based on his performance, within the short period , which was very outstanding which may have informed why they did go out in search of another Engineer or a Non-Public Relations staff to Head the Department . It was not surprising that Nasiru, described as one of the longest serving Assistant General Managers in the Department was promoted and appointed to Head of the Department to continue from where he had stopped.
There have been celebrations in media and Public Relations circles, that at long last, the Management of NPA, have seen reason to appoint a Professional with Public Relations and Media background to Head such a strategic Department in the agency in order to restore the lost image of the Authority with his vibrant Team.
Recall , some of the Public Relations staff had adopted a ‘’sit -don – look’’, attitude in the Department , awaiting for the General Manager to direct them on what to do. Proposals submitted to the Managing Director’s office meant to be handle d in the Department never came out as it developed K-leg in the office.
Even securing approval letters from the Managing Director’s office for running Media jobs based on the General Manager’s verbal approval to facilitate payment was difficult to get for the beneficiary out of fear on how to defend it, even with evidence to show that the job has been done. Perhaps, the only exception was Eng. Adams, who the Departmental staff had described as a fast learner could not do much because he was said to have been frustrated by Hajia Usman, the former Managing Director, who was very domineering to prove that she is the boss.
Nasiru was said to have been promoted alongside seven other General Managers and 10 Assistant General Managers. Among the newly promoted General Managers and Heads of Department were Moltok Jsephine Adar, who was a former Assistant General Manager, overseeing the agency Oversea office bu now t appointed to Head the SERVICOM Department, Ahmad Umar, AGM , Accounts, now General Manger Human Resources, Shidu- Shabi Khadija Ife, AGM, Environment, who became General Manager but his place was moved to the Managing Director’s office, meaning that he would be Coordinating the activities of the NPA Chief Executive office, CEO, and Ngini Chukwuma, a former AGM, Management who was also promoted to General Manager was deployed to Head the Authority Lands and Asset Administration.
Others were Odunsi Opelowa, an AGM, Finance, who many had speculated would be retained in the Department if promoted to General Manager and Mohammeed Shehu, who was the former AGM, Procurement but with his promotion to the enviable position of a General Manger, he was made to oversee the agency Tariff and Billing Deparetment.
Bello-Koko, the acting Managing Director, may have gladdened the heart of the beneficiaries of the agency recent promotion exercise when he disclosed that ‘’this is in line with the management’s commitment to employee’s motivation and service excellence’’.While congratulating the newly promoted General Managers and Heads of Departments and Assistant General Managers ‘’to regard their new appointments as a call for duty and service to the nation’’, he urged them ‘’ to put in their optimal best to achieving the vision of the Authority’’. The good news is that all the appointments take immediate effect, meaning that all the new General Managers and Heads of Department including the Assistant General Managers have resumed in their new Offices to work with the new Management.
Maritime watchers believe that Bello-Koko, the acting Managing Director of NPA and his Management have made the right appointments of the Heads of Department, by putting’’ the right square pegs in the right holes’’ and not adopting the trial approach of his Predecessors in the appointment of Heads of Department.