Posted by By Isiaka Adams and Senan John Murray on
The Federal Government, on Tuesday, announced the dissolution of the board of the National Maritime Authority.....
The Federal Government, on Tuesday, announced the dissolution of the board of the National Maritime Authority.
The dissolution came barely three days after some members of the board, including the Director-General, Mr. Festus Ugwu, were arrested and quizzed by the police over the death of the board Chairman, Chief Funsho Williams, in Lagos residence.
Ugwu; NMA Legal Adviser, Mr. Matthew Egbadon; and two other directors were arrested on Sunday and their homes searched by the police.
Six other directors of the authority were also reportedly quizzed on Monday as part of ongoing probe of the murder of Williams.
A statement in Abuja on Tuesday by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Dr. Mu‘azu Babangida Aliyu, said President Olusegun Obasanjo had approved the dissolution of the NMA board and the merger of the authority with the Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council.
Both organisations are being fused into the National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
The statement said that the dissolution of the NMA board and the merger formed part of ”ongoing reforms” in the ministry. The statement added that a new bill seeking the repeal of the NMA and JOMALIC acts and establishing the new NAMASA had been sent to the National Assembly.
The Federal Government appointed a maritime lawyer, Mrs. Mfom Ekong-Usoro, as Director-General of the new agency. Usoro is from Cross River State.
Sources in the ministry said NMA‘s dissolution and Usoro‘s appointment had nothing to do with the ongoing investigation of Williams‘ death. They argued that the Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, had on July 16 sent a recommendation letter to the Federal Executive Council for her appointment to head the apex maritime agency.
Usoro, in a brief interview with our correspondent on Tuesday, explained that her appointment derived from the imminent merger and ongoing reforms of the NMA and JOMALIC. She said it had nothing to do with the suspected assassination of Williams for which the former NMA directors were being investigated.
Until her new appointment, Usoro was the Managing Partner, Paul Usoro and Company, a law firm owned and managed by her husband and herself.
Appointed alongside Usoro is the former Executive Chairman, JOMALIC, Alhaji Ahmed Tijjani Ramalan, who is now Chairman of the board of NAMASA.
The appointment of Ramalan closed the intense lobbying over who would head the proposed NAMASA after the merger of the two agencies.
Other appointments into the new NAMASA board include Mr. N. Olivier Ogbuagu, as Executive Director (Operations) and Dr. S.A. Dosunmu, as Executive Director (Administration). The appointments take effect from August 1.
Ramalan pioneered the establishment of JOMALIC in 1999, following the scrapping of the National Dock Labour Board due to the incessant labour unrest and work stoppages as well as intra-union squabbles that characterised the maritime labour sector.
Sekibo had last month said the Federal Government would not stop short of appointing professionals to head the new transport parastatal, even if that would require going abroad to get qualified hands.
Meanwhile, the President, WISTA-Nigeria, Mrs. Funke Agbor, has applauded the appointment of Usoro as the NAMASA boss, saying it was the realisation of long years of a clamour that women should be given leadership positions in the transport sector.
She said, ”We are happy that one of us has been appointed based on her track record of professional competence and hard work and we hope that more appointments would be made from the array of qualified women to lead the industry.
”Women have been extremely effective in the discharge of their functions and for an organisation as important as the NAMASA, saddled with the responsibility of the implementation of the cabotage law, among others, we need somebody who really understands what the law is all about.”
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