FG queries Perm Sec over NIMASA leadership tussle

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Mr. Muhammed Bashir, is currently in trouble over the recent leadership tussle in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.

It would be recalled that in sacking Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi as the agency’s Director-General on July 6, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed him to hand over the management of NIMASA and all government property in his possession to the most senior officer in the agency who will remain in charge until a new DG is appointed.

Following that directive, Akpobolokemi on Monday handed over to the agency’s Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Calistus Obi.

But a mild drama reportedly played out at the agency’s Burma Road, Apapa, Lagos headquarters barely three days after when it became clear that Obi was not the most senior officer.

That discovery led to the elevation of the agency’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr. Baba Jauro, as the acting DG when he was discovered to be the most senior officer.

Jauro was said to have formally lodged a protest against Akpobolokemi at the Ministry of Transport and Office of the Head of Service of the Federation before the reversal was made.

But a source in the ministry told our correspondent on Saturday that the Permanent Secretary was suspected to have played a role in the initial elevation of Obi as the acting DG.

The source said Obi had already been issued a query by the HOS, Mr. Danlandi Kifasi. Kifasi also gave Bashir a query.

He added that Kifasi issued the query on the orders of the President who was angry that his directive was not followed on the choice of the acting DG.

“I can confirm to you that the Permanent Secretary has been queried by the Head of Service due the embarrassment caused by that drama in the agency. He is expected to explain his role in the matter,” the source said.

He said the reversal of role between the two top officials of NIMASA was a result of the investigation which revealed that although the two of them were appointed at the same time, Jauro resumed in the agency about three days ahead of Obi.

“The two of them were appointed the same day but their record of resumption showed that the new acting DG resumed about three days before Obi resumed,” the source added.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, had in a statement on July 6 announced the termination of Akpobolokemi’s appointment without giving a reason for the development.

Meanwhile, SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that the President would make his ministers and key aides to sign a pact not to corruptly enrich themselves while in office.

Our correspondent learnt on Friday that Buhari came to that conclusion when confronted with some documents that detailed how some former government officials amassed wealth with impunity.

When contacted on Friday on the matter, Adesina said nothing was strange in Buhari giving terms and conditions to whoever he engages to work with him.

Adesina likened it to rules of engagement always handed down to whoever is engaged for an assignment.

He said, “It is only natural that if the President engages you to work with him, there will be terms and conditions. It is not strange. Don’t forget that we had a President in this country who compelled people to sign pre-dated resignation letters. I am not saying that this President is going to do that, but it means there can always be terms and conditions. These are just like rules of engagement.”

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