BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Retired Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello has condemned the apparent show of the demonstration of superiority by some government maritime agencies as unhealthy, counterproductive and unacceptable.
He noted that such conduct is not only incompatible with official normal and official business ethics, but capable of undermining strategic cohesion and synergy needed to drive the national economy, even as he urged leadership of national assets and institutions to focus on ideals and tendencies that promotes the collective gains through value synchronization.
Bello made the above observation during his valedictory speech and formal pull-out ceremony yesterday at the Eko Hotels and Suites Lagos, after his two terms impactful stint of eight years as helmsman of the NSC. Prior his appointment in June 2013 by President Goodluck Jonathan, Bello was the Legal Director of the agency. He was granted him tenure extension by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017.
Bello expressed disappointment with the disturbing culture in which some agencies spends so much to defend territories while neglecting critical imperatives for national growth, even at the detriment of their primary mandate.
He noted that a change from such primitive and retrogressive attitude will impact more positively on the collective gains and national interest; and further noted that agencies are not graded by their fat or lean budgets, but by their critical connect to the national economic blueprint.
He said, “There is lack of synergy among the agencies and I don’t think it is succeeding because it has been the basis of equality. There is no agency that is better than the other. Agencies are not graded by their budgets but what they contribute.
“It is very unfortunate some agencies think that maritime starts and stops with them. No, it cannot work. Some agencies are trying to defend territories and in doing so, they go to a large extent and that is not good for the economy.
“They spend a lot of money to defend these territories while they neglect what they are established to do and that’s why we are not developing and that’s what Nigerian Shippers’ Council will never take from anybody; not now, tomorrow or forever.
“We are all equal; we all have contributions to make. We can’t be having cosmetic cooperation; we have to have real cooperation. We must prioritise the digitisation of our ports otherwise, we are joking. We have to export because that is the only visa for trade balance, digitalization of our processes will engender trade facilitation.”
Obviously the man of the moment as well the future, Bello advocated a clean break with all that is unhealthy and inimical and urged for continuous improvement in interagency synergy especially in critical nexus that underpins deliberate removal of unnecessary duplication of tasks, through progressive and collaborative outlook as has been happening in recent time.
“We should continue to have interagency management meetings; it should not be about one person running the show. That is why, honestly in Shippers’ Council, we will continue in that trajectory, building a lot of planks.
“What we did is to make it non abstract, the attention is what can you give to the national outlay? Sadly shipping has been romanticized, but what is shipping? Shipping can contribute immensely to the GDP of this country, if everybody is sitting down and saying communication gap and what have you, it is no longer an excuse”, he enthused.
He also enjoined maritime stakeholders and non state actors to join in the new awakening to make the national interest workable and result orientated; noting that the Shippers’ Council have set the template for essential collaboration, which he said is necessary to produce results.
“We must have a new persuasion and priority, shipping and transportation is key. Don’t be maritime stakeholders for maritime sake, be maritime in terms of what you contribute to the economy.
“We are the most stakeholders’ sensitive institution in Nigeria, we never do anything without the stakeholders because you will come back and start all over again. Stakeholders are the most important connect in getting results. That you are a government agency…that makes you the servant, and that is why we are known as public servants.
“It’s is not the other way round, we must remove our arrogance and remove our ignorance. Unfortunately some of the institutions feel they are there as lords, it is the wrong attitude. Nigerian Shippers Council is the secretariat of shippers’ associations; we must recognize our critical nexus to be able to produce results.”
The crème-de- la-crème of the maritime industry, including the Minster of Transportation and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi and Dr. Magdalene Ajani, respectively, was on ground to send off Hassan Bello, amid the greatest blaze of social glory.
Generally regarded as Nigeria’s apostle of port development, emotions were high as the minister, perm sec, CEOs of maritime organizations, NSC board members and titans of industry gave goodwill messages.
Each urged the federal government and the appointing authorities not to loss Hassan Bello to retirement but to quickly re-engage him to continue to contribute to the development of the industry, because of his unique potentiality as an uncommon economic driver and policy manager.