By Foster Obi
Heads of maritime agencies have expressed shock at the attack and level of destruction that took place at the corporate headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos, recently, when hoodlums hijacked a nationwide peaceful protest by youths.
According to a statement signed by Philip Kyanet , Head, Corporate Communications Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the chief executives voiced their concerns on Friday during a solidarity visit to the site of the incident. They expressed surprise that NPA was singled out for attack despite its documented Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Relations initiatives, many of which were tailored to youth development.
The NPA headquarters was recently targeted by mobsters who exploited the #ENDSARS protest against police brutality to cause mayhem in many cities around the country.
Speaking on behalf of the chief executives, Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, condemned the assault, saying the level of destruction is monumental and constitutes a huge loss to the maritime community as a whole.
Moghalu stated, “Seeing the level of destruction here first hand, we feel very sad about the turn of events. We are all in solidarity with the NPA management. This is a great loss to the entire country and we need to educate ourselves more that violence is not the best way to go about things.”
In a similar vein, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, regretted that the maritime industry was made to face this challenge despite still battling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said port facilities were critical national assets that should be collectively protected.
“Port facilities are invaluable economic assets and they are critical to national development,” Jamoh stated. “It behoves us all as citizens to be custodians of this monumental infrastructure built for our collective good,” he added.
While commending Managing Director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Balla Usman, for providing leadership at this trying time for the agency, Dr Jamoh said the Nigerian economy would have suffered considerably if the destruction had led to suspension of port operations.
He said, “This is a sad event, especially, for our industry that is still battling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Port operations are central to the activities of all the maritime agencies. We are just lucky that this did not stop shipping operations because this would have negatively impacted or crippled the Nigerian economy.”
The NPA Managing Director called the attack an assault on the maritime industry, saying the level of destruction is incomprehensible.
Other chief executives of maritime agencies present were Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello; Registrar/Chief Executive Officer, Council For the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Sam Nwakohu Esq; and Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Commodore Duja Effedua (retd.).
Pix: L-R: Registrar/Chief Executive Officer, Council For the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Sam Nwakohu Esq; Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu; Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Balla Usman; and Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, during the solidarity visit