Engr. Philipson Falade is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Seaview Properties Limited, a subsidiary company of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). He is an Assistant General Manager (AGM) in NPA hierarchy and an equivalent of a Port Manager. He assumed office as the CEO in January, 2013 but will begin his retirement leave on 16th June, 2015. He found favour with the immediate past Managing Director of NPA, Mallam Habib Abdulahi, who praised his efforts in one of his interviews with MMS Plus Weekly. But Falade is not this lucky with the members of staff of Seaview Properties Limited, his immediate constituency. There are rains of allegations against him, threatening his peaceful retirement.
My Hands Are Clean in Seaview Properties – Engr. Falade
He has been accused of awarding contracts to himself and doing shoddy jobs with substandard materials. He was also accused of “killing” a lady, through his painful activities in office and above all, buying favour with ex-MD of NPA. What about the ethnic-centric management style? But what are his reactions and achievement in Seaview Properties Limited? Find out how he puts the record straight, in this interview.
Seaview properties is a contractor to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and all the private terminal operators in the maritime industry. This is aimed at earning more money. The core brief of Seaview is into environmental services, property development and management. We lost lot of areas of management because of the government’s policy on monetization, most of the property’s under NPA were sold out. So, now we are mainly into environmental services and project development and that is when we are trying to get hectares of land in Abuja and Lagos for estate development. In Seaview we give contracts according to the rules of procurements. And in doing that we outsource them. For instance, the case of engaging sweepers. We cannot employ them directly because it will take a run on the company’s finance.
So, that is why I was surprised when you talked about looting and awarding contracts. I was also shocked to get that message because when I came down to Seaview, the company had been planned to close down until my name was mentioned to the managing director of NPA for a trial. So, I thank God Almighty that I was able to do my best here. I was even expecting praises from people because of my records.
Let me cut in here. You expected praises from the people, how much of the things you did here did you publicise to attract that kind of accolades?
That is a very good question. But just like you said that seaview is a subsidiary of NPA, one has to be very careful to know what your boss likes or dislikes. If you do what he does not like you might step on toes. I remember your paper was here when we commissioned our new equipment.
No. you did not invite us, we did not even hear about it.
We bought receptacle tanks, compactors, operational vehicles, and we invited the press.
“No. it was marina that handled that”. One of the Seaview PR officials interjected.
I discovered that my boss, Habib (immediate past MD of NPA) does not like publicity as such, so I looked at it that it would be wrong of me to start publicizing myself and Seaview Properties.
But that happend to be why he was removed. It was one of the major problems he had as the MD, I can tell you that! Before he left he embarraced the press but the damage had been done. Like in your case, you acquired all these things and did so much in repositioning the place, nobody heard it. So why do you have PR Officials attached to you? They can do a press release and send to the press. They are not here for eye-service. But I would like us to start with what you are leaving behind as legacy. What are they?
In fact, I am leaving so many things behind as achievements. In the area of environment, we were able to get the necessary equipment. They include receptable tanks, compactors, operational vehicles, mechanized sweepers, among other things. We tried to also increase our clientele base by writing Greenview, a subsidiary of Dangote Group; APMT, etc but discussions are still in progress. Also, under my watch, Seaview Properties requested for 50 hectares of land from the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). We are waiting for the final approval from the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), so that we can have our own estate in Abuja. When I come in I thought of the sustenance of the company and concluded that we cannot only rely on environmental services. If we don’t have money to build quarters, we can do it under Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
But we must be sure that the infrastructure has to be maintained by Seaview Properties. So, in terms of having security for the estate, generating light, water etc. so these are the things I consider necessary that can sustain the company.
Again, we just got a response from Lagos State government for a request on another 50 hectares of land. We also wrote to NPA to handover all their landed property in Abuja to us for management. They have agreed but asked us to come up with a business plan. One in Wuse, one is in Gwangwalada. I was able to achieve that. I believe that if they are properly handled we will make money for the company.
Your predecessor had an architectural design that had car parks, aimed at taking care of this traffic mess in Marina. What happened to it?
He did not really have an idea of what he is saying because he mentioned that to me. For instance, he said he wanted to destroy this building and construct a car park. This building is antiquity for the federal government of Nigeria. Nobody will give you approval for that because this is the first seat of the first and early ministers of transport. In other climes, this should be a tourism center. So nobody will give you approval. Again, think of the cost of demolition; the cost of construction, can seaview achieve that? I saw the idea as a white elephant project and so I refused to embark on that.
Why is it that it is very difficult for Seaview to clear the refuse on Tincan Island road axis?
I think I will disagree with you on that for one or two reasons. When I came in we bought some receptacle tanks but we discovered that most of the times trailers would block the road and our compactors will not have access to the port. Following this, we have constructed an embankment. So if we have excess refuse it will be beside the embankment but we don’t allow that in all the places including Apapa, which also has an embankment and receptacle tanks. We have made it mandatory for the concerned workers to work at weekend.
There was a night I slept on that road and could not believe the quantum of refuse heaps littered all through the road. I asked myself what Seaview was doing.
That may have happened about three or four weeks ago, when Apapa was totally blocked. I go for inspection every Tuesday, with my team. I don’t seat down here. Every Tuesday, 9am we are on our way. Also, the gas situation then equally affected the operation. You cannot meet a situation like that now. And that is the purpose of constructing that embankment because it is even an embarrassment to us.
Again, you have been accused of running an ethnic-centric management, such that everybody that is close to you have more confidence in them. The Auditor, Secretary, Maintenance officer and in fact, your shoe-cleaner if you have one, thereby throwing away federal character principle. How true?
(Laughs). That question is very funny to me. Let me even start with my reception here. My driver is an Hausa man who knows my wife and children. But he should have been a Yoruba man by their allegation. When I assumed office, I had an Accountant who knows nothing and she is from Jos, Plateau state. She was the one that started that mischief-making, saying “I don’t want to work with a non-Yoruba person”. That was her weapon to fight back. The people seated here are from Kano and Rivers, and the new Accountant is from Rivers state. I don’t have the power to employ, it is what they give me from Marina that I make due with. The first person I employed here is an Hausa girl, Maryam.
Ok. There is another strong allegation. There was this lady that died here and your people said her death was as a result of the pains your office inflicted on her. Can you explain this?
The lady they referred to was a secretary to this office from Marina. My predecessor relegated her and used another secretary. So, when I came in I saw the two of them and wanted to know what the problem was. She then told me that she was a confidential secretary from NPA but my predecessor did not use her as the secretary. As a result, I restored her to her position but she came to me in confidence and said she was not well, that she had High-blood pressure. And that was why she could hardly drive despite having three cars because anything could happen on wheels. So, I transferred her in sympathy because the work schedule is hectic. This was done in agreement with her. I transferred her to the office of the Auditor – Mr. Alloy, while the Secretary to the Office of Alloy was transferred top my office. She eventually died and we discovered that she had cancer. It was an undetected cancer. She never worked with me for more than one or two months. So, what kind of office pains could have led to her death?
This is the story in your company and we wanted to know the true story. We were first surprised that somebody could be this wicked!
So, that was how she died of cancer ailment. I could not have killed somebody!
Another allegation is that the renovation contract down stairs, is being done by you and awarded by you, and that you have been using substandard materials for the roofing and toiletries. It is important you clear these things because it is not everybody who has the opportunity of retiring from civil service.
It is very unfortunate that we cannot satisfy human beings. There are two contracts here. Let me start from that of the main building. In 2001 to 2005, I was in this building as a principal manager. That building was totally dilapidated. And when I assumed office as CEO of Seaview Properties Limited, nothing had been done to it. The situation was so bad that when it rains you will see document scattered all over. That was the first thing I put across to my General Manager in NPA. Inspite of the fact that the building belongs to the Federal Ministry of Transport, the condition is not good and we are the ones using it, I told him. He consented to its renovation. We then raised the bill of quantity to the headquarters and the work began. I am not the contractor and cannot be the one financing it, so I don’t know what they mean. If you had come to this building three or four months ago, you would have asked yourself if Seaview Property was actually here.
We had to also take on the repairs of the toilets. We got the maintenance department to repair all the toilets. But the problem we are having is women. We have similar experience in NPA, Marina. They go there and change sanitary pad. And when they do that, it will block the sewage. Instead of water to go down, it will go up. Consequently, I told them to earmark each toilet for each department and went ahead to instruct the cleaners to always be in the toilets to assist people and prevent bad usage. So, it is not the WCs that are bad; it is the usage. And the damage is peculiar to the women’s toilet. And when they destroyed theirs, they started shifting to the men’s toilets. So, I told them not to allow that. Lock them and give the keys to the heads of department.
What are your plans for retirement?
That is personal but I am grateful to God for attaining 60years in government service. I believe I have done so much for the country and my company. I now feel that I should serve myself for the next 10 years. And in doing that, I want to establish a farm. I have gone for training on how to rear glasscutters, snail so that while I make small money, I can also eat from it.
Lastly, what is your relationship with the staff and how much does Seaview make annually?
There is an adage in Yoruba that you cannot see the back of your head. Let the members of staff answer that. But, in terms of what we make, I may not give you the exact figure. Last year, we made over 100 million naira. We have to recoup the funds used for the acquisition of work equipment. What I can only say is that the company is stable.