Worried by the dwindling revenue fortunes of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in recent times, the management of the agency has concluded plans to lay off 600 workers from grade level 15 and above.
The list drawn up was put in abeyance by President Goodluck Jonathan who felt that the downsizing exercise was ill-timed and would definitely sway support against his re-election bid at the polls on March 28, 2015.
The list earlier rejected by the Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar as unpopular was sent to the presidency by the Niger-Delta ex-war lord, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo popularly called Tompolo, allegedly asking for the President’s approval for the reduction of NIMASA workforce as internally worked out.
Reasons for the reduction, MMS Plus Weekly gathered included inability of NIMASA to sustain the payment of about 2,600 workers, with people from grade level 15 to 20 constituting and taking a large chunk of the total monthly salary and allowances from the agency. 50 per cent of this workforce was said to have been employed by the present management of the agency.
Another reason for the reduction in workforce is to pave way for some newly employed members of staff from a particular section of the country to occupy these positions in preference for the older and experienced ones whose number of years in service equally count in allowances and benefits.
Again, it was gathered that NIMASA has been manifesting distress signals as a result of being unable to pay workers salaries and allowances; non-payment of contractors as well as meeting up with other financial obligations for months.
An insider in NIMASA confided in MMS Plus weekly that funds meant for these obligations have been at various times diverted to other uses. For instance, on February 13th, 2015, the Sum N3billion was allegedly moved into a private account for an undisclosed reason, when payment of staff salaries and allowances had not been paid.
Working on this story, MMS Plus Weekly had met the Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi and subsequently followed the meeting up with a formal request for interview to give clarifications on the issues but surprisingly, got stunned with the feedback that President Goodluck Jonathan had asked him to stop granting interview to the media.
It took the frustration of the agency two weeks ago at the 2015 budget defense session by the Senate Committee on Marine Transport for Akpobolokemi and Tompolo to rally-round and pay January and February staff salaries in quick succession between 16th and 17th of March, 2015.
It was also gathered that the management of the agency has declined to work on the promotion examination taken three years ago owing to lack of funds to back it up. But surprisingly, the bulk of this grade of workers due for promotion are the ones listed for retrenchment, while a new promotion exam is being planned to accommodate some of the new intakes in NIMASA, some of who were over rated beyond their supposed civil service grade level. For instance, according to our findings, some fresh graduates who ought to be on a grade level 8 were placed on grade level 15. Activities at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom State, have been grounded as a result of the inability of NIMASA to give the academy its annual intervention funds.
Recall that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had accused NIMASA of using the agency funds to sponsor hate campaign against it, suggesting that this was where this funds were diverted.
But internal sources in NIMASA are alleging large scale looting by the management and some of its contractors, under the guise of working for the re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan. Consequently, some of the concerned members of staff have called for investigation into the revenue sources and expenditure of NIMASA, threatening to resort to court action by whatever means to make the management accountable.
However, the management of MMS Plus Weekly tactly declined to publish this story since promoted for political reason.