Maritime: Why MWUN Rejected N100 million Offered By NIMASA To Offsets NNSL Disengaged Seafarers

By Stephen Ubanna

, Barely 40 years after the liquidation of the Nigerian National Shipping NNSL,, NNSL, following the suspension of cargo support for the government maritime agency by  former military President , Gen. Ibrahim Babangida , and subsequent  designment  of the  agency Seafarers, the Leadership of the Maritime Workers Union, MWUN,  who have taken up the matter with the Nigerian Maritime  Administration  and Safety Agency , NIMASA,  under the Leadership of Bashir Jamoh, OFR,  to pay the entitlements of the disengaged NNSL Seafarers appears to have made a headway.

Until 1999, the Nigerian government floated maritime agency which had almost been liquidated had some of its Seafarers absorbed by indigenous carriers like Globe SShipping, Haastrupp Lines, Cloverleaf Shipping, OceanSteamship, Interglobal Maritime Services, and Nigeria- America Lines but without being paid their pensions and gratuity by the company.

The situation was the same for other disengaged NNSL seafarers absorbed by Genesis World Wide floated by Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, who incidentally was a former minister of Internal Affairs, under former President Goodluck Jonathan, Bulkship Nig. Limited, African Ocean Lines involved in ship chartering to carry their cargo allotments.  

   Recall that Late Gen. Sani Abacha, a former Nigerian Head of State was said to have taken advantage of the then Nigerian Maritime Authority, NMA Act, 1987, promulgated by Babangida’s Administration to revive the defunct NNSL by urging he maritime regulatory agency in 1994, to give loans totalling about $74 million to some of the selected indigenous shipping Lines including NNSL but that was how far he could go.

Defunct NNSL Vessel with full compliments of seafarers disengaged in 1985

  Gerald Chidi, a -one-theme Managing Director of NNSL, had said that NNSL was killed by ‘’negative government interference’’, and disengaging the agency seafarers’ without payment of their pensions and gratuity. The erstwhile NNSL boss noted that the Nigerian government took advantage of its 100% ownership of the shipping Line to deny it of funds coupled with’’ the bureaucratic process in government’’ which was responsible for the collapse of the company.

 .As a prelude to the payment of the disengaged seafarers of the defunct NNSL, past and present Leadership the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, were said to have piled up pressure on Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state  and minister of Transportation  under former President Muhammadu’s Administration and the Leadership of NIMASA but  could not make a headway.

The Union Leaders may have read the body language of Adegboyega Oyetola, immediate past governor of Oyo state and now minister of marine and blue economy that under the present Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Administration and found that he will be willing to settle the defunct NNSL disengaged seafarers.

 It was not surprising why Prince Adewale Adeyanju, President-General, MWUN, had petitioned Tinubu, through the office of  Oyetola, the minister of marine and blue economy  about the non-payment of the NNSL disengaged   seafarers entitlements after  over 40 years after  .  

Prince Adeyanju, President-General, MWUN, who was said to have written the petition  may have won the heart of the the former Osun state governor  when he lammed   that while ‘’some of the seafarers who had worked with the defunct NNSL had died  without receiving  their disengagement benefits , those still alive  are living in penury and despair’’.

An aggrieved  Johnkennedy Ikemefuna, the Union’s Head of Media,   who could not hide his feelings had said that the protracted issue ought to have been  disposed  of long ago  but past governments’ insensitivity  to the plight of the seafarers  since  1985 they were  disengaged from the service had delayed the process. He was emphatic that between 1985 and now, the disengaged NNSL seafarers has not been paid their terminal benefits of gratuity and pension.

Given the inability of the MWUN, Leadership to penetrate the ranks of the ministry of Transportation officials and NIMASA management may have informed why the defunct NNSL retirees were said to have approached the National Industrial Court, NIC, in 1991 and on March 15, 202001, urging the Court ‘’ to dcompel NIMASA, being the agency responsible for the welfare of the seafarers to pay their gratuity and pensions. but.

Bashir Jamoh, DG, NIMASA&Prince Adeyanju: President- Gen. MWUN

Acting on the Court ruling, Jamoh led NIMASA, and Adeyanju, MWUN, President General   were said to have reached an agreement which had resulted in in ‘’the physical verification of the affected seafarers/next of kin as the case may apply, the nature of the appointment of all affected seafarers and the exact amount due to such beneficiary’’.

T Many believe that the management of NIMASA may have expedited action to ensure that the Federal government takes all the necessary actions to bring to a conclusion the issue of the defunct   NNSL workers as theywere said to have  communicated to Oyetola,  the minister of marine and blue  and who in turn had reached out to the President  touched by the MUN President- over the non- payment of the  of the gratuity and pensions of the defunct NNSL  seafarers. Recall that the minister had   decried the continued Federal government’s refusal to pay the entitlements of the former workers of the defunct NNSL. The intervention of the minister may have forced   Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, who had witnessed the ups and downs  of NNSL, despite efforts by the old NMA, to  bow to pay the gratuity of the  defunct NNSL Seafarers  but the pensions are yet to be paid, meaning that that the MWUN  battles with NIMASA continues.

But Jamoh, the NIMASA helmsman who has made it clear to the industry operators that the issue of  industrial harmony  is of  uttermost  interest  to his  Administration  , according to an insider is doing everthing within his powers to achieve that. He had confirmed that the agency and MWUN had been on the  issue for a while, noting that the  agency had offered  N100 million payment  as entitlements to the  defunct NNSL Seafarers which MWUN was said to have rejected.

Bashir Jamoh: DG, NIMASA, Delivering A Speech At The Signing Of Agreement With MWUN Over Payment Of Entitlements Of Disengaged NNSLSeafarers

He may have Nigerians when he disclosed that  ‘’some  of the defunct NNSL Seafarers  demanding settlement  did not even  have any employment letter ‘’.

This may have encouraged him as disclosed by Edward Osagie, an Assistant Director and the agency spokesperson   ‘’to follow the lead of  from the supervising ministry of  and ensure  the physical  verification  exercise of the defunct NNSL seafarers  is brought to a logical conclusion without further delay.  Osagie may have spoken the mind of the NIMASA Director General when he stated that ‘’the minister will be duly updated by the agency about the steps so far taken to resolve the non-payment of gratuity and pensions of the defunct NNSL seafarers.

The NIMASA Director General may have gladdened the heart of the Leadership  of MWUN, who has championed the cause of payment of the defunct NNSL disengaged  seafarers  when he declared that he look forward  to closing  the issue  in month to come.

Given Jamoh’s insistence  on peaceful resolution of the plight of the defunct NNSL disengaged seafarers since 1985 may have given Prince Adeyanju, the MWUN, President General, the ammunition   to also state of the Union Commitment  ‘’to peaceful  resolution of the disputes  between the two parties  to ensure  the rights  and privileges of the workers  are well protected, without  disrupting  productivity in the nation’s maritime sector.

He was said too have commended the Jamoh led NIMASA Management for taking the bold initiative to settle the defunct NNSL  seafarers of over 40 years, urging others to follow suit.  ‘’I will like to commend the NIMASA Director General  for the unflinching  commitment  to industrial harmony’’, revealing that he is always on ‘’phone calls to resolve any issue’’. 

He was said to have alluded the N100  million  offered by the agency to offset  the terminal benefits of the defunct NNSL  disengaged seafarers  and why it was declined by the Union.  He would want the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, under the close watch of MMohammed Bello-Koko, Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC and the Nigerian Inland Water Ways Authority, NIWA,  to also add money to what NIMASA  had already provided , noting that ‘’it is the only way it can  go round the  beneficiaries’’.

It s on record that during the port Concession implemented by former Pesident Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006,  the Dockworkers were said to have been paid a flat rate of N200,000.00 each.  Prince Adeyanju, the MWUN, President -General had said that  ‘’this is what they want should happen this around , putting into  consideration  the realities of the situation on ground now’’.   

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