NIMASA Workers Allege Plot By DG To Sack 1000 Workforce
Some workers of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) have accused the Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside of plot to lay-off 70 percent of the agency’s workforce under the guise of transferring them to the zonal offices of the agency.
As part of his alleged well scripted plot, the Director-General, they also alleged has set up over 50 internal committees on different issues since assumption of office six months ago, with the aim of creating internal bottlenecks that will impede his action for workers-oriented programmes.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) has taken a swipe at Dakuku’s recent statement that NIMASA had achieved 70 percent cabotage compliance.
However, NIMASA has a workforce of over 1,600 workers excluding the 50 new employees whose recruitment processes have not been completed.
According to the NIMASA members of staff, some of who visited the corporate office of MMS Plus, Dakuku’s claim of restructuring the zones with the transfer of 70 percent of the workforce is a similar agenda peddled by the embattled ex-director general, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, under which he perfected the plan to retrench 600 workers to replace them with fresh employees but the plan ran into a hitch following the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan at the 2015 Presidential Polls. Jonathan had asked Akpobolokemi to wait until after the election as the decision could affect his re-election bid.
The concerned workers individually argued that Dakuku had slashed 50 percent of their allowances on account of paucity of fund, yet he wants to transfer over 1000 workers to the zonal offices. “There are no work facilities at the zones, no offices, no accommodation. Is he saying that transfer allowances will not be paid? When is he going to erect or acquire new offices for us, with which money?
“Dakuku wants to take dejected and demoralized members of staff whose career have been stagnated for over 12 years on a grade level to the zones, yet he is employing 50 relatively fresh graduates to be kept at the head office and placing them on grade level 15 (Asst. Director Cadre) when 226 workers have been waiting to occupy the same position for between 12 and 14 years now.”
According to them, the plot is to move them to the zones where they would be made redundant, adjudge them to be useless and ease them out of the system prematurely.
They buttressed their assertion with Dakuku’s formation of over 50 internal different committees, some of which were to address their welfare, saying that the report of these committees are perpetually reviewed by another committee, all in a bid to buy time by engaging workers with empty promises to enable him effect his retrenchment plan.
Findings by MMS Plus revealed that there are five different committees on provision of Health services for the staff. Others include: Ethics and Culture; Management staff official lines; New organogram committee; Restructuring of zones and ports. As at press time more of the committees were being compiled.
One of the developments that has raised workers’ fear the more at the agency is Dakuku’s secret recall of Capt. Warredi Enusuoh, former director of shipping development, who was said to be one of the key management members of staff who crafted the unpopular restructuring roadmap for Akpobolokemi. Capt. Warredi has been on interdiction for his involvement in the alleged money laundering charges against Akpobolokemi by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC). He was one of the accused NIMASA staff arraigned in court. Although Dakuku has unsatisfactorily denied severally that he did not recall Capt. Warredi, workers have continued to call on anybody who cares to come see Capt. Warredi at the NIMASA resource centre, Kirikiri, Lagos. The workers have maintained that he was recalled to guide Dakuku on the restructuring plan as programmed by Akpobolokemi’s leadership.
In her reaction before the director general commenced the tour of the zonal offices since assumption of office, the NIMASA spokesperson, Hajia Lami Tumaka, said, “NIMASA is restructuring to make the zones the centre of the agency’s operations. Accordingly, management is planning to deploy about 70 percent of its staff strength to the zones to increase its performance. It has nothing to do with disengagement please. Thank you.”
Dakuku stirred the anger of indigenous shipowners when he said last week that NIMASA had achieved 70 percent compliance in cabotage operations in the country. He said this feat was achieved as a result of the hard -work of NIMASA members of staff.
But in a swift reaction, the president of NISA, Capt Dada Labinjo said, “it is arrant nonsense! 70 percent of what? It shows lack of understanding of the job assigned to him. Are all ships engaged in domestic trade properly registered in Nigerian flag, manned by Nigerians, built in Nigeria and owned by Nigerians? Where these conditions are not met, have the owners/operators applied for waivers in line with our laws?
“It is a faulty logic for him to compare the National Judicial Council (NJC) to NIMASA in the conduct of their assignments. Has he not seen or heard of the regular interaction between the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) or the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and mobile phones operators? The relationship must be seamless as it is about economic development not even revenue generation like Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and the Nigeria Customs Service.
“He (Dakuku) should descend from his iron horse, approach Engr. Ernest Nwapa of the Nigerian Content Development Management Board (NCDMB) to learn the secret of his success in such a relatively short time at NCD. A regulator in this sphere or sector is not a headmaster but a partner! He can visit Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) centre but not NISA. Is MARAN a department of NIMASA? Well, to Dakuku, this is an employment for a maximum of 8years whereas to us shipowners or practitioners, it is a way of life! We shall similarly see his back like those before him and the maritime historians will have a place for him in their books”, Labinjo noted.