Blackmail And Mischief Merchants: Why They Want Jamoh’s Job

Blackmail And Mischief Merchants: Why They Want Jamoh’s Job
Dr Bashir Jamoh, DG, NIMASA

The history of the National Maritime Authority (NMA) now the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) is replete with invasion of interest from within and outside to lead by supplanting the substantive head of the agency at a material given time. The lobby and scramble get worse with every new administration in office.

Unfortunately too, NIMASA is one agency where personalities change with assumption of office with the exception of a few past leaders. Some director-generals  of NIMASA assumed office  with the air of an untouchable god because of their closeness or flaunted relationship with the sitting president or the minister and end up sacrificing performance on the altar of the touted relationship.

Therefore, the lobby now by some power brokers to unseat the DG of NIMASA is not new. The Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) is faced with a similar tread of blackmail by interest peddlers and not the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) is spared. 

However, the difference between the happenings now and before is that there is a band of ethnic bigots who had held meetings on how to take over the key agencies in the transport sector and have deployed the services of some gullible media outlets to achieve their agenda.  

Their strategy could be “push them out” by all means.  Some people have argued that a section of the country was made to preside over these agencies for decades not minding their capability.

This is not entirely true because they have been series of intervening mixture of ethnic, professional and political  considerations  that birthed a reflection of the national plurality in the leadership of the agencies in the past civilian and military regimes.

So giving breath to the alleged agenda of domination by a band of  ethnic pirates will be demeaning and counter-productive.   Instead, let the agencies on derailment be refocused. The priority should be on building sustainable and performance-driven institutions not going for the waist and legs of their leadership who are in any case still relevant for at least one year in office to give direction to the new ministers under President Bola Tinubu.

This is not to say that the invasion of the maritime sector by civil society organizations by declaring a clean bill of health for NIMASA, asserting that numerous allegations of financial misappropriations against it are false is healthy.  

On point is that no allegation in particular was said to have been investigated and concluded. No details on any was provided. They had a blanket investigation and made conclusion that has raised more public relations and criminal concerns.

Many of the allegations however against the leadership of NIMASA seem not to be adding up in numbers, especially the case of padding up the agency’s training budget by 500 per cent. It worth mentioning  that in a private innocent chat with this writer, a director in NIMASA had lamented that the DG has not trained workers since assumption of office three years ago.

This lamentation was shared by some members of staff. What does this imply? Simply, the training budget allegation is unfounded.  There are many other cases as this.  

Meanwhile, pained by the trend of mischief and blackmail, Dr Bashir Jamoh, the Director General of NIMASA has given an insight into the barrage of allegations against him in recent times in some sections of the media.

Reacting to the recent attack on him which borders on financial prolificacy, nepotism and corruption, he said all these campaigns of calumny are sponsored by people who are after his job in NIMASA.

Speaking with an online medium, The Nigerian Economy, in an interview from Ghana where he was attending a conference, the embattled NIMASA DG declared that he was tired of hearing the barrage of allegations which has become a pastime for his distractors.

He also attributed his travails to his close relationship with former President Mohammed Buhari which he claimed  his accusers are exploiting to drag him in the media.

Jamoh is married to Buhari’s niece and his daughter is married to Buhari’s nephew.

“From what I gathered, one, they (his enemies) are looking at my relationship with the previous government.

“Two, too many people are after my seat. I think they are the ones sponsoring all these malicious accusations, but it is not enough for me to deny the accusations.

“I want to charge all journalists to delve into the issues and see for themselves, whatever accusations they have against me”

Jamoh said he was getting tired of hearing the myriads of accusations against him, wondering what it all portends for his enemies and the country at large.

Jamoh denied all the accusations and reports of corruption against him saying that budgeting is done according to the needs and priorities of the agency and approved by the national assembly.

“Some of these allegations have gone to the SSS. I am very tired. I think in the future many good people won’t like to work for the government because there is no point for me burning my youthful age serving my country.

“I spent seven years serving Kaduna State Government, and now, 30 years serving the Federal Government, only for somebody to take paper and biro and start to write fictitious lies against me. What will I do with this money?

“This is not the first time these people are doing this. They alleged that I have N45 trillion. The entire budget of NIMASA from its days as NMA till today is not up to that.

“The bank they said I have N1.5 trillion, the entire banking assets and deposit of that bank are not up to N1.5 trillion.

” I have never maintained an account with Fidelity Bank. I don’t have a foreign account and I don’t have any company account.

“My account is one salary account. So how do I get that money? They said that I inflated the NIMASA budget.

“How do I inflate the budget, when the budget goes through the national assembly?

“They said the budget for training went up by 500%. I was the head of training at the agency before I was promoted to the Executive Director level.

“Since 2020 when we had COVID, we don’t have large sums for training.

” This matter was taken to the National Assembly and is well known.

“Journalists can visit our office and ask for our financial reports. I am always transparent.”

Jamoh insisted that he was not ready to join issues with his detractors, noting that he deliberately declined approval to all statements written by the agency’s Public Relations Department in reaction to some of the allegations.

“Just last week, the same media organization reported that we didn’t deploy the Deep Blue project. Can you imagine that?

” The Nigerian Navy, Army and Air Force are the ones manning the assets, not NIMASA and the Navy came to NIMASA recently to explain that these assets have been deployed and they are using them.

” The President wrote to direct us to release air platforms to the Nigerian Air Force, water platforms to the Navy and land assets to the Nigerian Army.

“And these assets were deployed accordingly and we have even seen the effect in the recent reduction in piracy.

“I am in Ghana now, and the Chief of Army staff is here too. He was the one who spoke on the operations of the Deep Blue Project and everybody was clapping.

“Last year, we had the NISA (Nigerian Indigenous Shipowners Association) dinner and the Nigerian Navy disclosed that their capacity had been increased by 50%.

“I have been quiet. The agency’s communication department has been writing but I don’t want to react by myself to these unfounded allegations.

” I want journalists to write. I just read here in Ghana about a civil society organization protesting in Abuja saying that allegations about me are a distraction. I don’t know them, but I am just reading it now here in Ghana.”

He maintained that every agency’s budget is tailored to meet the needs of the agency.

“If the budget increases, it depends on the priorities that we have. I don’t know what they saying, but I can state that nobody took a kobo for doing nothing.

“The training we had we made it more elaborate and tried to divide the training in terms of professionalism.

“So many professional trainings we were not doing before, now we do. I have put the agency on the global maritime page.

“Before I took over the management of the agency,  we didn’t have any vessel.

“Now we have five brand new vessels built with bulletproof,” he said.”

 Earlier, a coalition of civil organisations had risen in  defence of  Dr. Jamoh over a forest of corruption allegations against him.

At a press conference in Abuja Wednesday, the coalition dismissed the allegations as baseless and political vendetta against the NIMASA DG by his political enemies who are intimidated by the soaring achievements of Jamoh at the agency.

It could be recalled that viral reports by some online news platforms  (not the eyewitness news), make a series of allegations bordering on financial prolificacy against the NIMASA DG.

Speaking through Comrade Dele Anifowoshe, the  National Secretary, CCSON, the coalition said there was no in-depth investigation before some media houses reported what they received as allegations from some persons they described as mischievous and unscrupulous elements.

According to Anifowoshe, the group, through its investigation, has discovered that the allegations against Dr Jamoh were sponsored by some disgruntled elements whose dirty businesses have been taken away and are now fighting back by using some sections of the media to report unverified facts.

 “As Coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria, CCSON, we have deemed it fit to debunk claims against the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, over alleged financial infractions which are not true as they make Nigerians to believe a lie.

“Our investigations revealed that the stories and reports put out there are all tissues of lies and baseless.

“It’s unfortunate, that some of these publications were hurriedly put together and some news media ran with them without doing due diligence through investigation to verify and balance their reportage.

“We want to make it clear that these allegations have never been verified and authenticated anywhere and anytime; rather they are deliberately cooked up by some unscrupulous elements who do not mean well for our country and peace, the Scribe of the coalition declared.

He therefore appealed to Nigerians to dismiss the report as cheap blackmail meant to discredit the good work of Dr Jamoh at NIMASA.

“We call on Nigerians to discard this cheap blackmail from persons who are out to defame the Director General of NIMASA who has positively transformed the agency and repositioned it for high productivity.”

According to him, the NIMASA boss is a game changer and go-getter who has transformed the image of the agency and attracted local and international recognition and awards.

“Industry players have showered encomium on his sterling performance since he took over the helm of affairs of the agency.

“Today, NIMASA is recognized for its performance by bringing the agency to be at par with its counterparts across the world based on its global best practices.

“Dr. Jamoh has stood out among those who were DGs of NIMASA by being gender sensitive and friendly, as the agency has 60 percent of directors as women under his leadership

“He has been able, through his proactive and pragmatic steps, to make the Agency have strong synergy between other relevant agencies and established international collaboration against piracy and other maritime offences resulting in an all-time reduction in vessel and crew attacks.

“With his personal involvement and engagement with the NIMASA Board, Executive Management Team and all staff of the agency, they have all worked assiduously to contribute to the success stories the nation’s foremost maritime administration has been associated with.

“He is currently on the move to ensure NIMASA scales up the performance of its statutory functions and activities to woo more investors, professionals and all stakeholders in the nation’s maritime industry to boost the economy,” he said, adding that “Now we have to double our efforts.”

The coalition therefore charged the NIMASA DG to remain focused and not to be distracted by the antics of what it described as mischief makers.

The group declared that the towering performance of Dr. Jamoh as the NIMASA DG has attracted both local and international recognition and accolades through awards.

“Media reports also have it that the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its recent report had disclosed that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which had in recent times become the global epicenter for sea piracy, fell to the lowest since Q2 2019 after  Dr. Jamoh started enforcing the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also known as the Deep Blue Project.

“Based on the impact and achievements of the DG NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, since assumption of office, has won several awards including the 2020 Zik Prize in Public Policy.

“Also the prestigious media giant, Vanguard Media has given one of its highest awards to Dr. Jamoh as recognition and commendation of his radical transformation of NIMASA, which was the ‘Public Sector Icon (Maritime) Award’, and critical maritime stakeholders who witnessed the ceremony acknowledged the fact that the NIMASA DG has worked hard within a short period to justify the honour.

“Due to his excellent performance in repositioning NIMASA, he was honoured with the prestigious award of ‘Public Servant of the Year’ in 2022 by Champion Newspapers.

“Also internationally, he has been applauded for his doggedness and determination to change the narrative after he hit the ground running as the DG NIMASA”, they added.

“We once again state that the allegations against a core technocrat and goal-getter as Dr Jamoh are all lies from the lips of mischief-makers,” the coalition stressed.

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