· Redeployed director crumbled NIMASA’s accounting system
· I’ve been offered other options – Dakuku
By Kenneth Jukpor
As the tenure of Dr. Dakuku Peterside as the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) terminates on Tuesday this week, one of his biggest Achilles heel was that NIMASA never audited its account under his leadership.
Expenditure at the agency were haphazard and poorly planned as Dakuku never held internal management audit at the agency, let alone one that required external auditors.
Meanwhile, the NIMASA Act 2007 stipulates in Section 20 (3) that, “The accounts of the Agency shall be audited annually by a firm of auditors appointed from the list of chartered accountants approved from time to time by the Board of the Agency”
This practice of recklessness has become the norm for most Chief Executive Officers heading government parastatals in the country.
NIMASA actually failed to audit its account since 2014 and Dakuku inherited this trend in 2016, but it is a sin he would not be able to get away with as it cost him his reappointment.
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts on Thursday last week, resolved to probe the activities of NIMASA, over its failure to submit its audited Accounts to the Auditor General of the Federation from 2014 till date.
The Committee is currently reviewing claims of alleged deliberate and reckless refusal by non-Treasury Funded MDAs to render audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The panel made the resolve to probe further after Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who appeared before the panel, could not explain why the accounts of the key revenue-generating agency were not audited.
MMS Plus findings revealed that one of the Directors in-charge of finance at NIMASA was redeployed by Dakuku after he stressed that he wouldn’t comply with the illicit modus operandi of the monetary affairs at the agency.
The reshuffling threw the agency into more turmoil as the new officers who replaced him couldn’t do proper accounting and always returned to the alleged victimized Director who refused to provide assistance as the agency’s financial accounts were left in shambles.
Inside sources at NIMASA and former Directors at the agency also posit that most of the NIMASA events never followed proper budgetary preparations.
This is a breach of Section 20 (2) which stipulates that “The Agency shall do all things necessary to ensure that all payments out of its money are correctly made and properly authorized and that adequate control is maintained over expenditure incurred by the agency”
While Dakuku would be held accountable for this fiscal recklessness, there are numerous areas which have left stakeholders disappointed with the management of the agency under his administration.
Speaking with MMS Plus last week, the Chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (PCC) Otunba Kunle Folarin observed that industry stakeholders are really angry with NIMASA and the leadership.
“For 14 years they kept the CVFF and nobody can give account. The House of Representatives members are furious that the agency hasn’t audited its account in almost 10 years. So, in terms of accountability the agency scored zero. A good leader must be accountable and the new leadership must learn from this,” he said.
According to him the Dakuku-led NIMASA didn’t focus on its mandate and this mandate should be the basis for appraising the agency’s performance and not social interactions.
“The agency’s mandate is very clear. It includes the development of indigenous shipping, the marine environment, developing shipping activities generally, the nation’s performance on the global scene. How did the agency address the issue of marine litters and pollution in the last four years? There was no effort in this regard until the Action Plan launched two weeks ago.”
“What was the agency’s effort to develop indigenous shipping and seafaring? The score is zero. When you look at shipping development generally in terms of services like ship building, repair yards; the score is also zero. On the international scene; have we won any election into the IMO Council? No! Have we domesticated any of the conventions that Nigeria subscribed to? No! The anti-piracy law is yet to be implemented, so we can’t even count that”, Otunba Folarin queried.
He also lamented that the piracy situation in Nigeria has become more severe, taking a toll on victims kidnapped for ransom as well as becoming a fiscal burden on the nation.
“Commercially, the nation is being charged extra war risk charges as Nigeria is labeled a war risk zone for ships to visit. What has NIMASA done to address this? The current administration of NIMASA failed woefully,” he said.
Meanwhile, he advised the new administration to focus on the functions of the agency outlined in its establishing law and ignore frivolities.
“The current administration bought helicopter and ships but what has that got to do with their mandate. If they faced their mandate, we would have been able to itemize where they performed fairly and where they failed. However, they didn’t do anything about their mandate so the score should be zero,” he added.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, Oceanic Energy Limited, Capt. Taiwo Akinpelumi urged the next administration at NIMASA to prioritize stakeholders’ interest and the development of the industry.
“The new administration must address the non-disbursement of CVFF and the proposed Maritime Fund that nobody is talking about. They must recognize associations who seek to address the industry issues and not only relate with individuals who chase personal gains.”
“Look at the situation of seafarers and ship-owners before Dakuku came in and the current situation today. Have we fared better? No. We offered ourselves as technocrats to show the path to follow in order to develop indigenous shipping but he chose not to take us serious. He was there for four years and the situation went from bad to worse until two months ago when he started scratching the surface of key issues he should have focused on earlier. If he actually had genuine intentions he would have faced the issues headlong from the outset. He only picked interest in these issues because he realized it would make people take him serious for a second tenure but he failed”, Akinpelumi said.
Although Dakuku didn’t initiate the N50billion floating dock contract, Akinpelumi stressed that he had two years to plan for the arrival of the facility, blaming the NIMASA boss for allowing the investment rot away at the Naval Dockyard yet incurring $30,000 daily for over a year.
A former President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) Capt. Tony Olugbode admonished the incoming administration to prioritize the sustainability of the maritime industry.
Olugbode said: “For the sake of posterity, we should always think of putting people with requisite knowledge and skills in leadership positions. It is unfortunate that we have subjected this to politicking. Nigeria is a maritime nation but we are becoming worse than non-coastal nations. The glorious days of fishing are gone and the vessels are also gone. We need people with high integrity that want to influence the maritime industry for good.”
According to him, the profession of Master Mariners was growing before the current administration came in, which led to retrogression for the professionals in the country fueled by the dearth of indigenous shipping.
“We have a system that doesn’t allow the professional Master Mariners thrive. There are no jobs and no job security for the few who have jobs. The Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron isn’t up to the level of the one in Ghana. We always talk about where you are from before you get appointments even in an academic institution. The new administration is saddled with the responsibility of re-positioning maritime in Nigeria. The industry is in a sorry state despite the geographical advantage the country has,” he told MMS Plus.
Meanwhile, Dr. Dakuku Peterside told MMS Plus newspaper last week that he had been given other alternatives besides NIMASA and he was glad to leave the scene.
According to him, he genuinely put in his best and has success stories contrary to the views of industry stakeholders and operators.
Reacting to a list of alleged financial malfeasance and contract splitting circulating in the media said to be a petition sent to the presidency by some nameless NIMASA members of staff, Dakuku said there was no petition written against him by anybody talk less of the staff, adding that nobody called him for any such situation and those accusations were mere figment of someone’s imagination.