By Stephen Ubanna
It did not come to many as a surprise to many as Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and minister and now minister of Transportation recommended Bello –Koko, who has been acting as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Port Authority since May, 2021, following the suspension of Haji Hadiza Bala Usman, over alleged cases of Corruption to President Muhammadu Buhari , a retired Army general,for Confirmation.
Bello-Koko, who had served under the Hajia Usman led Management as the Authority Executive Director, Finance and Administration, before his appointment as acting Managing of the Federal ministry of Transportation agency, had demonstrated over the last eight months of being at the helms of Affairs of the agency that he knows what he was doing as he had re-positioned the Authority on ‘’the part of growth and improved on its revenue generating capacity and amount paid into the Federation Account.
Within the eight months he was said to have acted as the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the agent, he was said to have made the Lagos ports of Apapa and Tincan Island to operate above their installed capacity .Note that these were ports that were built to handle 500,000 TEUs but could now handle about 700,000 TEUs, which means more money for the government. This is evident with the amount that was paid into the Federation Account between January and November, 2021.
Mohammed –Koko, the NPA, boss, had said that that the Authority earned N256.28 billion as against the expected target of N214.65 billion , showing N71.70 billion or 120%, more than what was set it by the government for the period. In achieving the improved revenue collection, the former acting Managing Director , now confirmed by the Katsina state born Nigerian President , had successfully blocked areas of revenue leakage at ports and also reduced the Authority operating expenses by 20% .
Recall that the past Management of the Authority have always problems complying with the quarterly remittance of its Operating surplus to the Federation Account due to lack of Funds, fueling speculations making the rounds that the officials , Concessionaires and other port users were not doing the right thing Bello-Koko, may have known that he cannot follow that footstep of his predecessors of non-remittance of Operating surplus to the Federation Account that he has to have fully enforced the Law to ensure that the right charges and levies, are paid by the Concessionaires, shipping Companies, shipping agents and other port users both in Local and foreign currency at the ports.
It was not surprising why the Authority transferred to the Federation Account about N90 billion in six months under his close watch. There are indications that the Authority exceeded its 2021 revenue projections and the projected N80 billion into the Federation Account in 2021. With his confirmation as the substantive CEO, of the Authority by the retired Army General, Bello –Koko, and his Management Team including the port Managers would intensify their revenue drive.
An informed source told the Magazine that there have been celebrations in maritime circles, over the appointment of the Kebbi state born NPA, Managing, as the substantive Head of the Authority.
Given the good working relationship between the Authority and the United Nations, UN, maritime Agency, International Maritime Organisation IMO, may have encouraged the NPA helmsman to commend the agency, stressing that ‘’the synergy , particular, the IMO support ,towards electronic data exchange in Nigerian ports’, have been of immense help to the ports efficiency.
The NPA , CEO, was said to have opened up recently while reacting to the pledge made by the UN marime Organisation ‘’to support the Nigerian government in its efforts to develop Port Community System , PCS, for electronic date exchange for its port complex.
A release that was said to have been monitored on the IMO website by the officials of the Authority had stated that from January to June ,2022, the International maritime Organisation will ‘’work with NPA to conduct analysis of the current situation at the nation’s seaports and forward recommendation on the governance, business model, technology and identity any gaps to be filled’’.
IMO Leadership may have taken this bold initiative to ensure that the nation’s seaports benefit from ‘’effective Operational country-wide PCS to enhance the economy of the country which had witnessed a down-turn over the years and still gasping for breath..
Bello-Kiko, the NPA, CEO, may have taken advantage of the IMO PCS Statement, to give an insight on the extent of work done on the phase II, of the country’s port project which began in 2021 with series of webiners between August and November 2021, aimed at creating awareness among industry stakeholders about key aspects of the PCS.
This multi-million naira project, which was said to have been started by bello-Koko’s Administration, according to an insider were said to have identified the opportunities and challenges for developing a national PCS in Nigeria.
It was learnt that more than 60% of the senior Management Staff of both the Authority and other sister agencies like the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the close watch of Bashir Jamoh, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, which has Hameed Ali, a retired Amy Colonel as the Comptroller General, , Nigerian Immigration Services, NIS, , Agricultural services, Health services, ministry of Transportation, , Terminal Operators, and shipping Companies had participated in the training exercise. Other. Other maritime stakeholders that were aid to have participated in the PCS training are the shipping Companies, shipping agents, importers and exporters.
Ibrahim Nasiru, General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications of the Authority , had further confirmed what Bello-Koko, the Managing had said that the PCS , which is a neutral Platforms will ‘’allow the exchange of electronic data information between the various industry stakeholders, stressing that ‘’ that it will become an increasingly important part of simplifying cross-border trade, in the West and Central African Sub-regions.