By Kenneth Jukpor
The immediate-past Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello has encouraged state governments and local governments to develop seaports.
Bello was speaking during a celebration organized to honour him by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), in Lagos, yesterday.
According to the former NSC boss, the federal government is being overburdened with port development while the states and local governments have not taken the initiative.
“Why shouldn’t states and local governments become involved in the development of ports? State and local governments can be involved in owning and developing the ports while federal government is more concerned about improving the port system under a regulatory authority. Apapa local government could own the Apapa port, this approach is happening all over the world,” he said.
He drew an analogy to the aviation sector which is under the federal government, yet state governments take initiative to develop airports and own airlines.
Meanwhile, Bello described his successor, Hon. Emmanuel Jime as a man with intimidating credentials and experience having been a Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA).
“Hon. Jime has already been a Chief Executive of a very important agency, NEPZA, which has similar economic responsibility with Shippers’ Council with regards to exports. I want the freight forwarding community to support him so that he not only attains similar feats, but actually achieves more,” he said.
According to Bello, most of the NSC accomplishments under his leadership were results of collaborations with industry stakeholders and the highly knowledgeable workforce as the Council.
Earlier, the Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam recounted the good deeds of Bello in the maritime industry, stating that the former NSC boss would be the best candidate for the role of Minister of Transportation in 2023.
“I wish his parents were alive to witness these encomiums lavished on their son today. Real happiness in life comes from your relationship with people and that is what Bello has shown with his leadership style at NSC.”
“Recently, I was sick to the point that I was hospitalized and Bello got informed about it. He called and asked for the name of the hospital because he wanted to visit but I said there was no need. Surprisingly, Bello came to the hospital to see me, but those who claimed to be my friends and those who always met me for favours didn’t demonstrate such kind gesture,” the NAGAFF Founder said.
According to Aniebonam, NSC staff should be the group celebrating Bello because if not for his efforts, NSC may not be in existence at the moment.
Speaking on behalf of NSC workers, the Director of Consumer Affairs, NSC, Chief Cajetan Agu described Bello as a man of courage, humility, and a truly patriotic Nigerian.
“I worked with him for 22 years. He is someone who treats people equally, based on competence. He has fought many wars and came out on the winning sides. Bello is a shrewd negotiator and a great team player who always consulted his management team,” Agu said.
While commending NAGAFF for being a third party hosting a celebration ceremony for his former boss, Agu recalled Bello’s action during an inspection of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) amid the COVID-19 lockdown where he ordered the company to provide shelter for freight forwarders having found the freight agents standing under the sun to transact business at the shipping company.
“He damned social distancing or the fear COVID-19 to mix-up with port operators daily to keep the ports operation despite the lockdown as a result of the pandemic,” the NSC Director said.
On his part, the Registrar of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Barr. Samuel Nwakohu noted that Hassan Bello’s leadership provided a good framework to ensure freight forwarding and port business thrived in the country, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Nwakohu, who was represented by the Deputy Registrar, Dr. Alban Igwe also credited Bello for playing a crucial role in the formation of CRFFN.
“For CRFFN, this celebration underscores the importance of Hassan Bello to freight forwarding practice in Nigeria. He understands the role of freight forwarding in the economic development of this nation and has played a crucial role to ensure the practice thrives,” he said.
Also speaking, the Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto stressed that Bello changed Shippers’ Council from its passive role to an active one in the industry.
“Before the emergence of Hassan Bello as the Executive Secretary of NSC, the Council only replied letters to acknowledge receipts without acting on them. Things changed positively when he became the Executive Secretary. He has added value to the Council,” Farinto said.
The ANLCA Vice President said that he was privileged to witness the achievements of NSC under Bello during the COVID-19 lockdown, noting that he received midnight calls from the NSC boss daily to deliberate the activities for the following day.
“He deserves a national honour from the President. I can recall his efforts in container deposit refund and he has set in place a substitute with insurance. The results in dry port development, Port Service Support Portal (PSSP), Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM), among other commendable efforts are visible,” Farinto added.
A veteran maritime journalist and publisher of Shipping World magazine, Elder Asu Beks said if he was Nigeria’s President, he would make Hassan Bello the Governor of the 36 states in the country.
“I will also want him as the Minister of Power because he will solve Nigeria’s electricity problems. I will make him Minister of Petroleum Resources and this issue of fuel scarcity and other petroleum issues will seize. Hassan Bello is the real godfather of the maritime industry,” Asu Beks said.
Meanwhile, the President of Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol noted that he was willing to start a campaign to politic in a bid to keep Bello at NSC but the NSC boss declined such offer as he was willing to let others also leave a mark at the agency.
The Chairman of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi posited that the law dictating just two tenures for heads of agencies should be reviewed in view of exceptional performances like Bello’s.
In his remarks, the President of the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke described Bello as a ‘transformational leader’ and an epitome of good leadership.
Anaroke, who is also the Publisher of MMS Plus newspaper, noted that NSC isn’t as rich as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), but commended the outgone NSC boss for touching more lives of stakeholders than the other agencies, especially among journalists.
“There are many perspectives of Bello’s leadership and we can unbundle them into six lessons. These leadership lessons include; humility – Bello sits in the front sit with his driver. There was a day he was denied entry into NPA headquarters because the security couldn’t believe he was the Executive Secretary of NSC because he sat in the front seat. Other lessons are; Nuture and Manage Realtionships; Kindness (Do-Good Always); Gender-Friendly with NSC boasting more female directors among maritime agencies; Shield and Umbrella (he manages the temperament of the weak, maligned and sensitive workers and stakeholders) and Impart your Industry (leaving significant contributions in the maritime sector),” Anaroke said.
The climax of the event was the conferment of Grand Patron of NAGAFF on the former NSC Chief Executive, Mr. Hassan Bello.
Bello thanked the freight forwarders and other stakeholders for the kind gesture, expressing delight and satisfaction at the tributes.