Minister of Marine and Blue Economy

No doubt, every government from the day of conception has something to tell it followers, especially in a country where politicians have over time adopted the strategy of deceitful sloganeering to win the people’s heart . Nigeria and Nigerians in their vulnerable state have been living with this venom for long and have since adopted to such situations.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, no doubt is known to be a man that keeps his words , both morally and politically, at least for those who are followers of his journey to modern day democracy in Nigeria. Jagaban is known as a goal getter when it comes to proving his political sagacity to make the difference.

That was the reason he confrontationally tackled the powers that be, when he was about being frustrated out from the race to the presidency by his political opponents. Behold, the Jagaban summoned courage to shout the “EMILOKAN” ( it is my turn) which later metamorphosed to his electoral victory. The rest they say now is history.

For a man who tookover what I called a “Frozen/Dead Economy” that is living on debts and credit, borrowing to pay salaries, servicing interests on loans and capital projects. But despite these challenges, he wants to strike the rock to deliver his campaign promises based on his 8 point agenda to Nigerians. Hence he has introduced a “Performance Bond” agreement to measure performance of his Ministers and appointees, even in a hopeless economy that preaches RENEWED HOPE.

The question running through the minds of Nigerians, especially maritime industry stakeholders is , can Adegboyeka Oyetola , the Minister of the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy and his likely political appointees ( for now Managing Director NIWA and Executive Secretary Nigerian Shippers’ Council) who are all novices in maritime affairs deliver on the Bond?

Sadly too, the maritime media neither know what is wrapped in the Minister’s Performance Bond agreement with President Tinubu neither his Performance Bond agreement with his agencies CEOs and Directors.

Suffice to say that , stakeholders are already skeptical of the successes of this invented exercise without proper disclosure of the content, nature and pattern the PB will take or is taking .

It is important to remind the Honourable Minister that since his assumption of office, he has not officially engaged the maritime media to officially unveil the Policies, Programmes and Deliverables at the short , medium or long term to Nigerians. Also instructive is that, Nigerians are not new to signing of Documents or setting up of Committees, but performance delivery has always been the problem. Can the Minister and his CEOs deliver these PB signing ritual without properly carrying the media along on the insights of the various agencies deliverables? Or what is hidden in this Bond that cannot be detailed to the public through the media so Nigerians can hold them accountable.?

His Excellency, Adegboyeka Oyetola, an Insurance guru and former governor of Osun State, believed to be a Cousin to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the Minister of the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy. Many who expected for something else , otherwise have now come to live with the reality. Oyetola have come to stay. Beyond that , he has signed a four years ( 2023- 2027) Performance Bond with the six agencies under his ministry namely, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ( NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council ( NSC), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN, Oron and National Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).

Out of the six agencies, two ( NIWA, NSC) have new helmsmen, while the remaining four, NPA, NIMASA, MAN, Oron and CRFFN are marking time to receive their “Renewed Hope” management team soon. No doubt, sooner or later it will come. The question is, can a man or men give what they don’t have despite Singing a Performance Bond? What of, if their bond fails to perform, what is the consequence? Who pay for the lost time?. What in all honesty is the insight of this Performance Bond agreement?.

Moreso, what are the short, medium and long term deliverables of this performance bond? What is the performance bond signed by NPA Managing Director expected to produce on port infrastructure and development, terminal operators contractual agreements, new ports development, increase revenue etc? What are Nigerians and stakeholders expecting from NPA on profitable port system with a condusive and less corrupt port operating environment etc.?

On NIMASA, are Nigerians and stakeholders expecting a long lasting safe and secure maritime domain for business from the Performance Bond?. What about the disbursement of CVFF , NSDP cadets crying for attention , COC Certificates delays, among others. Is the performance bond addressing these issues? and if, at what rate, short, medium or long term?

The NSC of recent has been reduced to a political appointee agency under test running style . We just have a new man , coming to learn how to run NSC, he has signed a Performance Bond in a political fashion, I could have preferred he signed a Learning Bond ( LB) . What does he know?, what does he has to offer?. Nigerians and Maritime stakeholders are waiting for him to unveil his policies and programs for the industry.

The NIWA boss has come too, from a novice background into an unknown agency and Ministry, signing a Performance Bond ( PB) instead of a Learning Bond ( LB). What is he bringing to the table on waterways transportation, safety, tourism, barge operations and encouraging private sector participation.? Stakeholders are anxiously waiting for his Bond with stakeholders and investors so they can key into his policies and programs for a functional and productive waterways transportation in Nigeria.

The Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron aside from infrastructural upgrade is lacking in Cadets sea time training , official upgrade to either a maritime university or degree awarding. What is the Performance Bond agreement about?. Is it to keep on training cadets on Marine Engineering , Nautical Science etc with National Diplomas ( ND)and Higher National Diplomas (HND) when other Maritime training institutions in the world have long moved to degree awarding ? What about over 12,000 Cadets graduated from the academy overtime without sea time? This Bond must address these long standing issues and staff welfare among others.

For the CRFFN, it has overtime live and operated as a dead agency under the Ministry of transportation. Though, smuggled into the the Ministry to create jobs for boys. Thanks to the Tinubu administration which has removed it’s yearly budgetary funding from the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy. Let’s the stakeholders see the content of the Performance Bond agreement the Council signed with the ministry? For me, CRFFN should fend for itself as a professional agency or it die a natural dead.

While I drum my support for the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, as a father of the sector vested with the responsibility to perform. Suffice to say that the Nigerian maritime industry overtime has been administered with political gladiators who came with no vision or direction , but only to recoup their political investments . With the Performance Bond agreement, can we see a new silver lining in the offering ?

Can a new Ministry, with a new Minister, with a Performance Bond agreement make the difference or is it another political abracadabra to again keep stakeholders hope alive in a RENEWED HOPE regime?
Only time will tell ell.

Citizen Innocent Orok is a Journalist based in Lagos.
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