By Richards Adeniyi
A group known as the Centre for National Unity & Cohesion has sent a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari alleging irregularities in human resources management and nepotism at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
In the petition dated 20th May 2019, the group said the situation may lead to total chaos and unprecedented industrial disharmony in the agency if urgent measures are not taken immediately to remedy the situation.
The petition, signed by one A.S Osborne Adi and Markson Chukwume, Coordinator and Secretary of the centre respectively, reads in part: “It all started in the last staff promotion exercise. As aptly captured by the agency’s own policy and criteria for staff promotion in chapter six of its condition of service any candidate for promotion must have spent minimum number of years in a particular post/rank ranging from two, three or four years, depending on his/her grade level, vacancies, punctuality, qualification and seniority.
“Your Excellency, sequel to these, an assessment of the intellectual capacity of a potential candidate for promotion is also tested through examination by reputable and government approved human resources development organizations.
“Accordingly, NIMASA contracted the promotion examination for all qualifying staff to the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) and the Centre for Management Development (CMD), all of Lagos. This, they executed and the results forwarded to management for implementation.
“However, in another twist unprecedented in the history of the agency, the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, is alleged to have thrown into the dust bin the works of both ASCON and CMD and proceeded to personally produce a new set of examination questionnaires and conducted the exercise himself.”
The petitioners further alleged that in the 2018 promotional examinations, Peterside had unilaterally lowered the cut off mark to 45 percent to accommodate staff from the South-South geopolitical region, “who he publicly declare were marginalized in the agency”.
“In fact, of utmost concern to us and any discerning mind is that, he alone marked the papers and awarded scores. Therefore, no one knew the criteria he used in arriving at these scores or results. There was neither an independent or external review of how he arrived at his decision.
“As a result of all these, Peterside came out of the exercise with a purely lopsided promotion that heavily tilted in favour of a particular section of staff from one region of the country against the rest. For instance it is alleged that, in the senior staff category, out of the 18 Grade Level 14 officers that were promoted to Assistant Directors, only three are from Northern Nigeria, with sprinkles from the South-West and South- East while majority are from the South-South geo-political zone where the Director-General hails from.
“Another area of concern to discerning observers and employees alike in the massive promotion that took place in the agency is that involving staff from Grade level 12-13. Under this category, 49 people were elevated with only six from the whole of the North.
“Even at the directorate level, the three northerners recently promoted directors are already on their way to retirement. The implication is that in the next few months or so, the entire region will not be represented in that category. This is against the spirit and letters of the constitution,” they further stated.
They queried how an exercise that involved 37 people will have only nine people from one part of the country while another part will have more than 60 percent.
The petitioners asked the president to set up an administrative panel to investigate and review the NIMASA promotion process.
Are we to see the re-enactment of the former Director-General of the agency playing out here again? The presidency must act fast now.