*His performance may earn him NTC chair -Amaechi
*Agencies need stakeholders to succeed -Bello
If it were possible, the maritime industry stakeholders would have extended the tenure of Mr. Hassan Bello as the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) by another four years on Friday, in Lagos at the award ceremony organized in his honour by the council.
There was a seeming unanimous view among observers that it is a rare feat in Nigeria’s public service to have workers and stakeholders wishing more years for the out-going boss where many CEOs end up compromised with frequent visits to anti-graft agencies’ offices even as members of staff will speak ill of their boss in utter dishonor and pouring appreciation to God for a good riddance to bad rubbish.
Bello officially retired from the service of the NSC after a cumulative 20 years of service within which he served eight years as the chief executive officer with scores of achievements to his credit.
The atmosphere was electric with flood of emotions and encomiums from stakeholders, most of who could not help but feel nostalgic about his exit as they took their turn to celebrate Bello in different show of oratory in appreciation of his eight years of meritorious service as the head of NSC.
The event also featured SERVICOM long –service awards where over 200 members of staff of NSC received awards in different categories.
In his speech, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said the“Exit of Hassan Bello is very emotional for me and my family”, while narrating his discussion on Bello with his wife who wondered why his tenure could not be extended but he retorted that Bello’s exit was statutory.
According to him, his wife not relenting, asked if Bello could not be given another position but Amaechi affirmed at this point that Bello could head the National Transport Commission(NTC) if the President gives his assent to the bill.
Describing Bello as a man of peace, Amaechi advised that any man going for war should never contemplate going with Bello because he will opt out at the war front.
The Governing Board Chairman of NSC, Hon. Bashir Sheriff Machina, who attempted enumerating some milestone achievements by Bello said he raised the bar. “Everybody knew NSC existed before Bello but nobody knew the potentials therein. He made NSC the port economic regulator, he commissioned the Kaduna Inland dry port, he facilitated the establishment of policy framework for Vehicle Transit Areas(VTA), Dala dry port in Kano, and established zonal offices for the council, among many other things.”
Hon. Machina, represented by Otunba Seyi Oduteno, a board member, added “ Hassan is a man who wanted to serve because of service not because of riches”.
In her good will message, Barr. Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, who is also a board member of NSC, said they broke down in emotion the previous day at the Council’s board meeting while describing the eight years of Hassan Bello’s tenure as eight minutes and the eight shortest years. “We were all very emotional. I see him as one man who embodies integrity, honesty and brilliance. He led by example. On behalf of the management, board, and staff, we will miss you, but you are a phone call away.”
A former Managing Director of NSC and Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi recalled how he employed Hassan Bello in his time, trained and mentored him. He said he was happy that he lived up to his expectations, saying his performance in the maritime industry is such that he would not be surprised if the Minister makes him the transport co-ordinator. He said he was impressed with how he was able to bring providers of shipping services and consumers on a common ground.
A former President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent(ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, said God had destined Bello to be in the maritime industry. “ He had wanted to be a sailor but he ended up a Barrister. We expected the Minister to pronounce Bello the co-ordinator general of all transport agencies. We owe Hassan Bello a remembrance. He never had a scandal; either a scandal of the pocket or a scandal of the flesh.”
Recalling her journey and professional moments with Bello when she was a director in the Ministry of Transportation, Mrs. Chinwe Ezenwa, who was a one time Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority(NIWA),said “ I don’t know what Nigeria wants to do with you but I hope they do not do an error of judgment.”
The Acting Managing Director of NPA,Mallam Mohammed Koko, who said Bello is married to a younger cousin of his, praised his leadership role in the industry, recalling how Bello advised him to visit some key stakeholders to resolve crisis at the port. He however said his only problem with him is “When he wants something he bullies you into it. Don’t look at his outward appearance. But like the Minister said, if you are going to war, don’t tell him at all.”
While the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation(NRC),Engr. Fidet Edentalen Okhiria, urged the minister to look for another person like Bello to replace him at the NSC, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, described Bello as a book with many chapters. “There are chapters of Hassan Bello in the maritime industry. Any chapter you open you will find things interesting about him.”
He said Bello championed the Nigerian Port Process Manual(NPPM) to address efficiency at the port. He championed the elimination of corruption in the ports, while being instrumental to the synergy among agencies at the ports.
Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje representated by Alhaji Ahmed Rabiu referenced Amaechi’s interview where he said he does not like money, saying “while Amaechi said he does not like money, Hassan Bello has acted that he does not like money. He is not corrupt”
In his response, Bello said, “ It is not true that I don’t like money. I like money legitimately earned. As for the war front, I believe I am the best for the war front. A tiger needs not lose its tigretude.”
He said he did not deserve all the encomium alone because he did not achieve the feats alone, dedicating the appreciations to the entire members of staff of NSC. Every staff of NSC is knowledgeable as NSC was built on a strong foundation, he said, adding that the massive harvest of awards at the occasion is a testimony of their hard work. He urged them, “Don’t be lazy, keep working hard and you will reap the fruit of your labour in due course”.
On the collaboration among agencies in the maritime industry, he condemned the attitude of agencies who prize themselves as super agencies, saying the industry needs synergy to deliver port efficiency.
According to him, “That you are a government agency makes you a servant. You need the stakeholders. You cannot do anything without the stakeholders. Agencies have to operate on the basis of equality. Agencies are not graded by their budgets but by what they can contribute. Some agencies spend so much money defending their territories . We need to have real co-operation, not cosmetic co-operation.”