His Stewardship as NIMASA DG, Rise as Africa’s No. 1 Maritime Administrator & His 2019 politics
By EZE CHUKWUEMEKA EZE
Carl von Clausewitz a Prussian general and influential military theorist noted famously for his military treatise Vom Kriege where he stated and I quote, “If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles. In this treatise, I intend to unveil to the world a young dynamic Nigerian leader (Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside) who has pursued his vision with audacity and strength of will to somersault all obstacles to become Africa’s number one Maritime Administrator.
John C Maxwell a renowned Philosopher may have had this new revelation in the leadership circle of Nigeria (Dr Dakuku Peterside) in mind when he postulated: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” In living this truism, prior to being appointed the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the agency was more of cash-cow for Nigerian politicians, without any focus and direction, until he brought his Midas touch and changes the face and perception of the agency.
It was based on some of the feats by this new revelation in the leadership circle that brought the bests in maritime industry in Africa under the auspices of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Abuja, the Nigeria capital, gathered to honour and elect one of the newest and finest Nigeria leaders as the Chairman and President of AAMA during its three-day third edition of AAMA Conference, by maritime administrators from 32 countries, from 19th to 21st April 2017. It was a historical and epochal day when Nigeria made history through Peterside, the incumbent Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, to become the chairman and president of AAMA. Peterside succeeds Mr Sobantu Tilayi, who is presently the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the South African Maritime Administration.
President Muhammadu Buhari captured the mood and minds of most Nigerians in his congratulatory message to this enigma of a leader on his election as the new chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrators, at the end of the third annual conference of the continental organisation in Abuja.
The President noted: “Peterside’s unanimous election is not only a personal honour and affirmation of confidence in his ability to lead AAMA, but also places Nigeria in a pivotal position to rally other maritime administrations in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) towards safer global maritime activities.”
His spokesman, Femi Adesina, in the statement said President Buhari believes that given NIMASA’s encouraging performance under Peterside, especially in the fight against sea piracy through inter-agency cooperation, he has no doubt that his new position provides him with even bigger platform to forge ahead in doing the nation proud, by meeting the objectives of AAMA. The President, while wishing the new chairman of AAMA a successful one-year tenure, expressed confidence that within this period, the Federal Government’s renewed focus on growing the Nigerian economy through increased maritime resources will be further enhanced.
This pride of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Nigerians started his public political life principally when he was appointed Commissioner of Works under the administration of erstwhile governor of Rivers State and incumbent Federal Minister of Transportation, Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, from 2007 to 2011, where he (Peterside) excelled, redefined and created most of the major roads, flyovers and bridges in Rivers State. Since he left office in 2011, Rivers State is yet to get a reputable replacement for that office till date. This was a man who used midnight for the supervision of most of the key projects under his watch.
A former House of Representatives member and immediate-past governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Peterside has demonstrated a sterling leadership quality that is by today acknowledged by the world and African leaders to warrant this type of elevation. He has proved that his appointment by President Buhari, based on the recommendation of Amaechi, was in order. He has by this feat proved that the Rivers State spirit is in him, by positioning himself as one of the new revelations in the leadership circle in Nigeria. I can now agree with our amiable President Buhari, who spoke through Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo – during the unveiling of the new of symbol of NIMASA – that Peterside has made Nigeria proud, by regenerating NIMASA and making it a centre of excellence for other countries to emulate.
An astute and charismatic politician and a seasoned administrator with an amiable personality, Peterside is a phenomenal reformist whose cult-followership stature among the youths and god-fearing people puts him as a leader to be admired, watched and associated with.
Peterside as NIMASA DG
The appointment of Peterside, the Rivers APC standard-bearer in the 2015 general elections as the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is well-deserved. It is a case of putting a square peg in a square hole.
As a tested and trusted reformist-minded administrator, who has all it takes to reform and transform NIMASA into the pride of Nigeria and Africa, Peterside has proven that his appointment was not misplaced. “Dr Peterside who met a primitive NIMASA comes well prepared for the task of breathing a new life into NIMASA. Apart from boasting of a sound academic background that includes a degree in Business Administration (Management) and certificates in Leadership and Project Management, he holds a doctorate degree in Organizational Management with research interest in Corporate Political Strategy.
Dr. Peterside is reputed as an authority in corporate strategy and business-government relations. He acquitted himself creditably in all his previous assignments, including as Commissioner for Works in Rivers State and a distinguished member of the House of Representatives and Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) during the Seventh Assembly.
He is a well-known champion of reform and strengthening of institutions as key to unlocking development potentials. Dr Dakuku Peterside, a legislator par excellence has served at all levels of government in Nigeria: local, state and national and, is fast establishing himself as a national reference speaker on oil and gas policy and legislation matters.
Peterside has been a most sought-after resource person in international conference: he was a major speaker at the 2013 Middle East Downstream Week held in Abu Dhabi in May, 2013 and the 2013 World Refining and Petrochemical Technology Summit in Doha, Qatar, among many other speaking engagements around the globe. I have no doubt in my mind that he will excel on his new assignment as the NIMASA Director General,” President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s confidence reposed in Peterside, as evidenced in his appointment as the helmsman of a strategic parastatal like NIMASA and President of a big association like AAMA, was not misplaced based on his feats so far in this task.
To Dr Peterside, “our core mandate is to regulate shipping in Nigeria and promote indigenous shipping”. We have a presidential approval to set up new security architecture for four maritime domains. That is one area we have done well. In the areas of cabotage law enforcement, there has been a lot of improvement. We have more Nigerians on board cabotage vessel than we had one year ago. We have more cabbotage vessels than we had one year ago. One year ago we had less than 300, now we have more than 300 cabbotage vessels on our register. Now that we have a downturn in oil and gas, most cabotage vessels support oil and gas activities and so, if you ask me, vertically and horizontally, we have made a lot of progress. Nigeria is becoming a stronger voice globally in the area of maritime.
We have hosted the Association of Maritime Administrators in the 32 member maritime association in Nigeria in April 2017. We are also bidding to return to IMO council. Something we lost many years ago. Smaller nations are in the council. Liberia is in the council. We are not supposed not to be there. We drew attention to the fact that of all cargos headed to Africa, minimum of 60 per cent will end up in Nigeria and it means we have significant interest in the maritime industry. So, we are being acknowledged as the real voice of Africa in the industry.
In ISPS compliance, you saw that the Americans were here recently. Before now, we had achieved less than 12 per cent compliance with the ISPS code but in the past two years, they have rated us above 75 per cent compliance. The ISPS code is a very important instruction in the international shipping industry. We have been rated very highly by the US coast Guard.
Finally, we subjected ourselves to what is called International Maritime Auditing scheme and the IMO auditing scheme had had rated us highly. So, in every aspect, we are recording great successes that are undeniable. I think we have done well.
According to Dr Peterside, about a year ago, when we assumed office, we discovered that the agency was still struggling with the framework of the two federal parastatals that were merged to form it. This conflict of identity was inevitable as the two previous bodies had been separate entities with peculiar objectives, business processes and operational complexities. To merge them required a sustainable process for management of results and expectations. To achieve this, we set about what we christened the 3R model, which is to reform, restructure and reposition it for the new roles and responsibilities within our core mandate. We developed a strategic document which has short, medium and long-term components to serve as our roadmap.
This document has been approved by our board of directors. Within our first year in office, management ensured the promotion of staff, particularly those in management cadre. This was a legacy achievement because this type of promotion only happened once, in 2007.
We have injected into the agency a completely new work ethic and energy by creating a smart vision, a mission statement and core values. We have also introduced knowledge transfer sessions to improve on internal capacity at minimal cost.
One major part of our reforms at NIMASA has been the restructuring of the agency’s operation, leading to devolution of powers to the zonal offices. This is to remove avoidable bureaucratic bottlenecks while reducing time for business transactions with the agency. This is a work in progress and we are optimistic that the decentralisation will be amplified in the next 90 days.
Dr. Peterside in enumerating some of his challenges knowing very well that he has numerous associates and need to aid some of these followers, admirers stated, At the time we got here, several persons were coming to us: “award a contract to us”. It is distracting! It makes it impossible to concentrate on your core mandate, which is to regulate shipping in Nigeria and promote indigenous shipping. In the recent past, somehow NIMASA reared off its core mandate and went to award contracts, so people thought it is the standard. NIMASA’s functions do not include contract award at all.
We have absolutely no business awarding contracts, and so, it becomes a bit of challenge managing peoples’ expectations. And we are always inundated with all sorts of proposals. The one that relates to us and the one that are not related to what we are doing. Many persons will underrate the impact of that on what we are doing. Most of the time, we are dealing with what has no bearing with what we are doing.
HIS FEATS AND GIANT STRIDES IN NIMASA JUST AFTER ONE YEAR
Israelmore Ayivor foresaw many years ago the passion and audacity of Dr. Peterside in pursuance of any task set before him when he stated, “Have a peculiar passion, audacity and boldness that see farther and further into the outer space.”
Peterside, who is known for his Midas touch anywhere he goes, is leaving no stone unturned at ensuring the agency gets a new lease of life and under him, NIMASA has witnessed mind-boggling transformation. Before Peterside’s assumption of office, it was believed that NIMASA was a money making agency with no direction and focus beneficial to Nigeria. Though the agency rakes in much money for the country, its effects and reasons for creation had not been achieved.
Meanwhile, within a year in office, NIMASA has started realizing its objectives with the new strides brought to the fore-front by the DG who insists it is not going to be business as usual.
According to Peterside, the reforms he will engage in at the agency were in line with the ‘change’ agenda of the Buhari administration which is committed to the diversification of the nation’s economy.
“On the public perception of NIMASA over the years, the agency under my leadership will completely change the narrative from the negative perception of corruption, inefficiency and abandonment of its core mandate to that of a Maritime Administration that is alive to its responsibility intent on making Nigeria the preferred destination for maritime activities in Africa”, he stated. With this mind-set, Peterside began with the change agenda in NIMASA and his strides cannot go un-noticed.
- One of his major achievements is the total rebranding of the agency which was unveiled at Abuja on April 22 by President Muhammadu Buhari. According to him, the need to rebrand NIMASA was borne out the fact that the agency must align with other foremost maritime administrations in the world. 2,. Another area of achievement of his administration is the promotion of over 300 staff members of NIMASA in the last 12 months. People are familiar with the agency will know that several staff and directors had been stagnated for a decade. With his promise to rebrand NIMASA, Peterside came with a mandate to introduce a completely new work ethics and energy in the agency. 3. Taking into consideration the importance of hi-tech, the Peterside administration instituted a medium term strategy through digital transformation to hasten processes at NIMASA. The process allows stakeholders to register their vessels and transact all other transactions digitally with a click of a button on their laptop. 4. Other achievements include the repositioning of Nigeria in the international maritime politics. Nigeria is said to be out of the Council at the International Maritime Organization, IMO, for over half a decade thus relegating the country at international politics in the maritime sector. 5. Arrangements are concluded to recruit 1,000 rescue marshals to protect our water ways. 6. In a bid to reposition the Nigerian maritime sector and make Nigeria a global voice again, the Heads of African Maritime Administration converged in Abuja in April 22 for the 3rd Association of African Maritime Administration Conference to elect Dr. Dakuku Peterside as its President. With feats like these, the Nigerian maritime sector have being repositioned to take the lead in the comity of maritime nations. 7. For the Safety of the country’s waterways which is one of the core mandates of NIMASA, the agency under Dr Peterside’s watch has successfully hosted two sub-regional technical committee meetings to build a formidable regional network. The network has increased our level of alertness, thus improving our capacity to respond to distress calls, which has ultimately led to a considerable reduction in the cases of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
In its qur quest to achieve a safer maritime domain the agency has been working on an anti-piracy bill. The agency has received the president’s backing to acquire assets that will be deployed at strategic locations, thus enhancing her ability to improve the safety of vessels within her maritime domain. Having realised the need to enhance the safety of boat users in Nigeria, the agency has secured the approval of the Minister of Transportation to increase the number of Search and Rescue marshals from 100 to 1000. 8. In ensuring that Nigeria gets a seat in the International Maritime Organisation Council, Dr Peterside and his team are working hard to get a permanent seat in the IMO Council, on which they have received the backing of Mr. President. This will enable the agency assert herselves effectively in IMO. As a major step towards attaining a more effective global implementation of its conventions, the IMO Assembly in December 2013 made the Member-State Audit Scheme mandatory. The audit of Nigeria was successfully conducted by IMO in June 2016. 9. For effective improvement in its surveillance and maritime domain awareness, the agncy under Dr. peterside now operates a 24-hour surveillance system, which captures all vessels in the Nigerian maritime domain, irrespective of weather conditions.she now achieve a complete profile analysis, which includes the flag, registered owner, operator, beneficial owner and movements over a specified period. This system enables her to take swift decisions, real-time, on any targeted ship. Currently, all offshore areas of interest have been electronically cordoned off with a guard zone via our surveillance system and we can at once view live-feed (activities), especially in the oil fields and on crude oil platforms. 10. On empowerment of indigenous shipowners, the agency in consciousness of her mandate to promote the development of indigenous commercial shipping in international and coastal shipping trade is poised, more than ever, to achieving this obligation. According to Dr. Peterside, We understand it requires a great deal of capacity building, especially human, infrastructural and tonnage capacities of our indigenous shipping operators. We have reviewed the participation of Nigerians in the industry and are not satisfied with the outcome. The summary of our findings revealed a low indigenous participation in international commercial shipping trade in Nigeria. As far-fetched as it sounds, there are no Nigerian-flagged ocean-going vessels known to us. In the course of our review also, we observed the salience of cargo availability to the commercial fortunes of a shipowner/operator and to our national tonnage growth. We noted also that commercial shipping will less likely develop without conscious, proactive, well-structured and monitored government intervention, as is done in other sectors. One area of such intervention urgently needed is cargo availability. 11. Developed maritime nations have at one time or the other consciously supported, and are still supporting, their indigenous operators in building their commercial shipping capacities.
Recently, a bipartisan bill was brought before the US Congress aimed at strengthening indigenous participation in shipping. The bill seeks to allow US-flagged vessels carry up to 30 per cent of the US LNG as a matter of both economic importance and security concerns.
On our part, plans are on to use our existing enabling laws to make public cargo available for indigenous shipping operators in order to improve their commercial fortunes and competitive advantage over their well-capitalised and established foreign counterparts. We are out to enforce sections 36 and 37 of the NIMASA Act 2007 towards building indigenous capacities in shipping. This is already at executive management level and we are determined to take it to the highest level of bureaucratic, legislative and executive engagements necessary. We shall also involve our esteemed stakeholders at the right time because we understand they have roles to play in the entire process. 12. NIMASA will soon take delivery of the 5th largest modular floating dockyard on the African continent. This dockyard will earn the Nigerian government, at least, $100 million annually in direct savings from the dry-docking of vessels operating in Nigeria, which is mostly done outside the country at the moment. It is our desire to partner the private sector to run the dockyard.
More facts about Dakuku Peterside
Peterside is widely accepted as a symbol of unity, visionary, egalitarian and most importantly a patriot whose love for Nigeria is infectious. In addition, he has earned a reputation as a charismatic and disciplined leader, creative and hard-working, a broad-minded fellow with strategic insight. He brings integrity, compassion, pro-poor perspective and intellectual dimension to bear in tackling tough national issues. His loyalty to friendship and bridge-building skills is remarkable. He is respected as one of the most result-oriented, meticulous, consistent, trustworthy and god-fearing political leaders in Rivers State today. In all the public offices he has held, he has brought innovation to bear and made remarkable impact that has endeared him to compatriots. He is a role model and mentor to several young persons, who look up to him for inspiration.
Peterside treads where even angels are afraid to tread. Even though the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has made the state unsafe for opposition, and had severally attempted to assassinate him, he goes about as if he has a spare life. When I confronted him on why he is not scared about all the killings, harassment and intimidation in the state, he simply answered: “Chief Eze, if I get scared what do I tell my supporters? Besides, I am a Christian and my God is capable of protecting me in the hands of the evil-minded fellows in PDP.”
THE FORCES THAT WILL DETERMINE THE FATE OF DAKUKU PETERSIDE COME 2019
Let us hear the answer from Dakuku Peterside himself – “That will be determined by my party and the Rivers people. Three things will determine whether I have my eyes on the seat or not. First is the Almighty God. Second is my political party and third, the people of Rivers State. If God says run, I will put myself forward and I have a relationship with the Almighty God.
The second thing is if the party says we won’t give you our ticket, I wouldn’t bother myself one day, despite the passion I have for Rivers State. I have totally subjected myself to group dynamics. Finally, even when the party says run, I have to see that Rivers people are really ready for change and if they are ready for change, then I will partner them to bring about that change for the good of the majority of our people.
What should matter to us is the interest of our people. Nobody should want to be governor for the pomp and pageantry of the office – for his own ego. I don’t have to be a governor for my ego. I believe I have attained a status that I deserve the kind of respect a governor gets, and so, I am not driven by ego; I am not driven by self-interest. You get to a time in life that you make up your mind to sacrifice your comfort for the good of the people and posterity. I am not in a hurry. God’s time is the best and He will always order our steps”.
Let me conclude this treatise by presenting the type of NIMASA Peterside intends to bequeath to whoever that will succeeds him at the end of his tenure, “I want to leave a model regulatory agency that will be a model of reference on the continent of Africa, an agency that understands that it is set up to serve the Nigerian people. If I accomplished that – an institution that understands that the force of authority that we have is the force of the Nigerian people – not for fun, not for show – that we have the force of authority of the Nigerian people to do good to the majority of our people. If I left an agency that is a reference model, I will be pleased that I have accomplished much”
EZE CHUKWUEMEKA EZE is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached via [email protected], 08038199163