Dakuku Peterside and his dream team transforming Nigeria’s maritime sector

When Dr. Dakuku Peterside assumed office as Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on March 10, 2016, he made no pretence about possessing the fountain of knowledge and wisdom the Biblical Solomon was said to have. He knew he was going into a terrain he couldn’t possibly describe as his forte, and would therefore require the cooperation of those on ground in the agency to achieve his goal of reforming a government parastatal that was not able to play its real role of contributing to the resuscitation of the nation’s battered economy.

His first challenge was that he took over an agency whose public image wasn’t at its best, no thanks to negative media reports that had to do with a series of corruption-related activities before he came in, especially those involving its past leaders. But most importantly, he needed to fully understand the industry to which he was expected to bring the kind of change that would impact positively on the nation’s economy.

He met a basketful of issues he had to grapple with, which included low staff morale relating to stagnation in terms of promotions; lack of proper focus by NIMASA as regards its regulatory role in the maritime industry, proliferation of operators in the industry and invasion of the country’s maritime space by sub-standard vessels owned mostly by foreigners.

 

A team player

The first indication of Peterside’s disposition to team work was the fact that he made it known to his colleagues at NIMASA that he wasn’t a superstar who had come to instruct his followers on what to do and the way to go. A team player, he made them understand that he had come to lead a team of experts for the herculean task of turning the fortunes of the agency around and, by extension, maritime business in the country.

This accounted majorly for the seamless transition from one leadership to another that NIMASA experienced. Above all, it ensured that he received from his team the cooperation he needed to achieve the lofty goals he set out to achieve at the agency.

His first task at NIMASA was installation of a new regime of transparency, accountability, openness and corporate governance that would make it operate in line with international best practices. He needed to do that to restore public confidence, most importantly that of maritime operators, in an agency where those key ingredients had been lacking. He adopted a multi-pronged approach to the assignment President Muhammadu Buhari sent him to carry out at the agency.

Peterside embarked on capacity building which involved regular training of the staff in all areas of the agency’s activities, including use of ICT and application of technology for improvement of skills to give them a new mindset for the task ahead. His training initiatives included collaboration with foreign institutions for the training of Nigerians, which involved exposure to international best practices that constitute the hallmark of NIMASA’s operations under his leadership.

The result is that there is a noticeably increased efficiency and improved management skills, which have in turn enhanced staff performance.

Worthy of mention is the fact that there has been an in increase in the number of cadets trained in various areas such as nautical science, naval architecture and marine engineering. This has added to improvement in the overall performance of NIMASA in all areas of its operations.

Three years down the line, Peterside’s strategy of carrying his team along in every action he has taken to move NIMASA forward has paid off in the string of successes and achievements the agency has recorded under his leadership. The maritime industry that was virtually in shambles now operates in more orderly manner, thanks to a repositioned NIMASA that now performs its regulatory role more effectively than ever.

 

New maritime environment

Peterside and his team have created a new and more conducive environment that has allowed operators to explore the numerous investment opportunities that abound for Nigerians, both in the African and world maritime spaces. The opportunities include those in deep sea mining, securing of a sizeable share of world maritime business and development of a new cabotage regime for Nigerian as well as African operators.

The maritime regulator has invested heavily in infrastructure development that includes provision of tools to ease operations by vessel owners. Part of this is the development and equipment of new offices in Port Harcourt, Onne and Warri.

The NIMASA director general and his executive management team recognize that security and safety are paramount for the smooth operation of the maritime industry. This informed its decision to enter into partnerships with security agencies like the police, army and navy for the purpose of adequately policing of Nigeria’s waterways to stem the activities of pirates and other criminals that operate on the seas.

 

Ease of doing business

One of the cardinal objectives of the Buhari administration is to improve the ease of doing business in the country to boost foreign direct investment. It is an objective NIMASA is pursuing with vigor, as evidenced in the commencement of 24-hours service in its offices and striking of partnerships with all stakeholders in the maritime industry, including ship owners, in a synergy that has significantly improved operations in the industry.

With a more conducive maritime environment in place, NIMASA has focused its attention on the ultimate objective of attracting foreign direct investment into the country – one of the areas the federal government is looking up to for diversification of the economy that has been almost totally dependent on oil. There are indications that the country’s maritime industry has now become more attractive to foreign investors.

 

Enhanced role as revenue generator

Before the coming of Peterside to NIMASA, the agency was not performing optimally its role as a major revenue earner for the federal government. This was due partly to the existence of various avenues for leakages that promoted corruption in the agency. The director general adopted a new system of revenue collection using automation, in addition to appointment of revenue consultants that are professionally equipped for the job of collecting revenue from even the most difficult sources.

The strategy has paid off, as NIMASA is now one of the highest contributors to the Federation Account. Peterside has been able to block the leakages that hitherto allowed corruption to thrive.

Operators and experts in the maritime sector see a second term for Buhari as a blessing for the sector, because of the belief that Peterside will still be around at least for another four years to lead NIMASA to greater heights. They see the agency under him playing a more significant cash-cow role comparable only to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in terms of revenue generation and contribution to the Federation Account.

 

Profiles of the dream team

Dakuku Peterside

Call Dr. Dakuku Peterside the accidental reformer at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and you will be right. He had wanted to be governor of Rivers State where he hails from in 2015, and actually contested the governorship election of that year on the platform of the All Progressives Congress. But Providence had a different plan for him.

He did not win the election that would have given responsibility for running the affairs of Rivers State – one of 36 in the country. But the loss gave him an opportunity to put his skills at the disposal of the entire country, because it made him available for appointment as Director General of NIMASA by President Muhammadu Buhari.

By any standard, Peterside is academically and professionally qualified for the high-profile job of steering the affairs of the regulator of one of Nigeria’s economically strategic agencies. He has three university degrees in his kitty, namely, a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Science (Hematology) from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt; an MBA from the same institution and a PhD from the University of Port Harcourt.

The quest for more practical training on the art and science of management took him to the Kellogg School of Management, Georgia State University, Atlanta and Havard-Kennedy School, Havard University, all in the United States, both of which he is an alumnus.

He learned the ropes in public service from the time he served as a special assistant to the Rivers State governor, before becoming the chairman of Opobo-Nkoro Local Government Area of the state. His superlative performance as local government chairman won for him the accolade of most outstanding local government chairman by various state, national and international organizations. While on that position, he was considered worthy to serve on the boards of several federal government parastatals and agencies.

Peterside’s score card as a local government chairman earned for him an appointment as commissioner for works from 2007 to 2011 in the administration of Rotimi Amaechi who was then the state governor. He is reputed for the excellent execution of that administration’s infrastructural transformation in the state.

Peterside took the plunge into the murky waters of Nigerian politics by contesting and winning election to represent the Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. He served as chairman of the House Committee on Strategic Petroleum Resources (Downstream).

A prolific writer, Peterside, who has a reputation as a turnaround management expert and leadership strategist is a consummate family man. His wife, Elima, is a lawyer, and they are both blessed with three children, namely, Soba, Belema and Miebi.

 

Bashir Jamoh: Executive Director, Finance and Administration

Bashir Jamoh, PhD, is the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, of NIMASA. He is one of the longest serving staff of the agency, having joined in 1994 when it was known as the Nigerian Maritime Authority (NMA). Before then, he had worked with the Kaduna State Government from which he transferred his service to NMA. In all, he has put over 25 years in public service.

Before his current position, Jamoh was the Assistant Director in charge of Training and Development in NIMASA. He also served in the operations and administrative departments at management level, all of which equipped him for his current role.

Jamoh holds a diploma in accounting from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Advanced Diploma in Management from the Bayero University, Kano and a Professional Certificate in Materials Management from the Institute of Logistics in the United Kingdom.

The pursuit of higher educational attainments took him to the Korea Maritime and Ocean University in South Korea, from where he obtained a Master’s degree in Management and the University of Port Harcourt where he bagged a PhD in Logistics and Transport Management.

Jamoh has attended management courses at the Said Business School, Oxford University, UK, and the Institute of Public Partnerships in Washington DC, US. He also holds membership of several professional associations, among which are the Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics, Chartered Institute of Administration of Nigeria and Institute of Maritime Economists in Canada.

 

Gambo Ahmed:  Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services

Gambo Ahmed, Executive Director of Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, has had a successful career in the private and public service.

He started out as an investment banker with NAL Merchant Bank Limited before taking up job in Kaduna State as Principal Secretary to the Deputy Governor, and later Principal Private Secretary to the State Governor, from 1980.

Ahmed returned to his first passion of banking in NAL Bank PLC, rising to the position of Executive Director before retiring in 2006 in the wake of the banking consolidation that saw the merger of NAL Bank with four other banks to form Sterling Bank Plc.

He was a director and later Chairman, Board of Directors of Mainstreet Bank Limited, from August 2012 to December, 2014, following his nomination by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Ahmed holds of a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Actuarial Science from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and a Master’s degree in Banking and Finance from the Bayero University, Kano. He has attended several management courses, both within and outside Nigeria, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers.

 

 

Engineer Joseph Oluwarotimi Fashakin:  Executive Director, Operations

Engineer Joseph Fashakin is the Executive Director in charge of Maritime Safety and Shipping Development at NIMASA. A holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Ife, Fashakin, who also attended the Project Management Institute in the United States, is described as a consummate engineering and project management professional.

He has a working experience that spans nearly three decades, mostly in the private sector. He was at various times Project Manager, MTN Nigeria; Chief Operating Officer, Hybrid Systems Engineering Limited, Technical Manager, Mobile Telecommunication Services, amongst other engagements.

Fashakin is a member of the Nigeria Society of Engineers and the Project Management Institute in the US. He has attended several courses in Engineering and Management in Nigeria and abroad.