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…As cronyism takes devastating toll on staff morale, vision

An initiative by the Nigerian Maritime Admini s t rat ion and Safety Agency to ingeniously create space for the promotion of junior staff, by encouraging the senior staff, particularly those on assistant director and deputy
Director to voluntarily resign has become a nightmare in NIMASA.
Tagged as ‘Golden Handshake’ (GH), the initiative aims at eliminating tension caused by stagnation and non promotion, by luring the middle and the deputy directors class to quit the agency, with the payment of five years
salary. The spaces so created could then be refilled by management,via upwards movement of deserving workers.
The golden handshake is being executed the second time at NIMASA, once under Akpobolokemi, during which about 15 senior workers voluntarily exited, including Alhaji Bulama.
Some of the agency sources maintained that the first GH was in fact initiated because a desire to remove Bulama, in order to position a more amenable officer, for the purpose of ‘being in better control’ of agency funds.
However, the second attempt at implementing the GH has reportedly turned nightmarish, as more than expected number of officers have signified a desire to leave NIMASA. Beyond that, several junior officers, for whom the GH initiative was being executed for, were indicated to be pleading that the GH be also extended to them, thereby sending the wrong signals to management, as to why a well thought out policy was about to ignite an Exodus.
“Management is not prepared for this kind of massive and embarrassing exodus”, a senior staff told the Business Monitor, stressing that the impression being created was that of largely hopeless workers, striving to grab an unexpected opportunity to bail out of the agency.
A NIMASA staff stated that while the last Director General, Akpobolokemi successfully tried and eliminated 15 senior staff, the present management is indicated to be contemplating to cancel it, based on the massive number of
persons, particularly introduction or application of GH by those expected to benefit from it.
Another source, still an agency source however tried to provide reasons for the massive exodus, stressing that the agency is increasingly being run as if everything has been politicized.

“Cronyism is the order of the day here. You must kowtow; and where you can’t kowtow, you must be prepared to be marginalised,” a staffer who spoke on conditions of anonymity, told the Business Monitor, stressing that
“It is either you are in, or you are totally out!” “We hide everything here.
Take for instance, the scheduled agency’s outside engagements are treated as to secrets. The idea is to ensure that those most qualified for the outside engagement would be caught napping, when they are asked if they still have any valid visa to undertake the trip; whereas, somebody else intended to make the trip would have been informed at least, four months earlier, to procure a visa, secrety.
“Our reward system is warped. Unfortunately, everything s treated, from the angle of reward or remuneration”, he stated further, wondering if there was any common sense in sending a man due to retire next year, for a long duration course, when youthful officers with 10 years of service still before them sidelined, except for cronyism.
“I mean, how do you justify it, except on ground of ensuring that the ‘right’ persons get the esta-code? It is like rewarding loyalty, even if the gesture tantamount to killing morale. So, you train the elderly officer, he comes back from the training; and three months later, he proceeds on retirement!”, he indicated further, saying that the
system was noted for frustrating merit or excellence!
A middle level staff told the Business Monitor that cronyism had been extended to such damaging and infuriating level, especially in the selection of people that were sent to IMO meetings that at a point, the IMO had to write to the
NIMASA, warning the management to stop sending those whose presence and poor knowledge at the IMO meetings amounted to sheer embarrassment!
“Things had gone that bad, before the staff realise how bad our reward system and politics had soured the agency!”, she explained, stressing that while the people were still coming to work, the zeal to put in their best was gradually being eroded, alongside their vision!
“You are a journalist. Go to the Public Relations and ask them if the IMO has ever written to NIMASA, advising them
on the type of persons to be sent for IMO meetings? You may also ask them if there’s anyone retiring next year, and is currently on a long stretch course? At least, that should provide you some insight”, she posited further, declining
to take further questions.
However, when the views of the Deputy Director, Public Relations Unit, Isichei Osamgbi was sought, he declined comment.