A committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) to review employments carried out by the immediate past Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, has began sitting at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos.
The nine-man committee, which has FMOT’s Director of Human Resources, Lawal Ibrahim as Chairman, has two other members drawn from the Ministry and six members from NIMASA.
The committee is different from the one set up last week by the same Ministry for the verification of NIMASA projects.
The employment review committee will determine if employments at NIMASA since 2010 were carried out under best practices and in line with civil service rules and guidelines. It will also determine if employed persons during the period under review were placed on the appropriate levels.
Its recommendations are expected to be submitted to the Permanent Secretary of the Transport Ministry, Mallam Mohammed Bashar within two weeks.
It will be recall that in the twilight of Akpobolokemi’s tenure, some aggrieved staff of the agency sent a petition to the Transport Ministry, alleging what they called “absurd personnel management practice by the executives of NIMASA”.
Sometimes in May this year, the workers accused Akpobolokemi and members of the NIMASA executive management team of recruiting into key positions without advertising vacancies and favouring a certain region of the country in total disregard to the principles of Federal Character.
The workers accused their former Director-General of adopting a personnel administration system that was “alien to both public and private sector personnel management practice in Nigeria and perhaps beyond”.
“The approach by the team from 2010 turned logic upside down in personnel practice. It is on record that the Director-General conducted personnel management as a personal and private business where all known procedures and relevant establishment committees in decision-making process on personnel matters were set aside.
“The grand design to eliminate certain sections of the workforce either on ethnic or regional grounds should not be allowed or encouraged in the agency,” the workers stated.
Akpobolokemi, according to the workers, employed mostly his kinsmen and cronies and placed them at Grade Levels far above their qualifications.
“Taking a closer look into the details of the newly recruited officers, one can easily see that in an ideal set up, none of the beneficiaries merited the positions given to them if based on entry qualification into public service, year of graduation, stint in public service and federal character principle,” they further alleged.
With regards to staff promotion, the petitioners also accused the former Director-General of being selective and parochial.
They claimed that some newly employed Assistant Directors and Deputy Directors were promoted to the next Grade Level barely a year after their assumption of office.
Akpobolokemi, who was appointed NIMASA DG by former President Goodluck Jonathan on December 23, 2010, was sacked from office by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 16.
He is currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Security (DSS) for alleged financial impropriety. His bank accounts and those of Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited – a company linked to his benefactor and ex-Niger Delta warlord, Government Ekpompolo, aka Tompolo – have been reportedly frozen by the anti-graft agency.
By Pita Ochai