Immediate past Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello has attributed achievements recorded during his tenure to the dedication of staff
Speaking at a ceremony organied in his honour in Lagos, Hassan Bello said:”It was not all Hassan Bello (behind the many achievements) but the staff of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the best staff you can work with. I couldn’t have prayed for a better staff. That the Shippers’ Council achieved many things under my tutelage could be true, but the foundation had already been laid.
“The former chief executive officers really laid the solid foundation. The economic significance of the NSC was never lost on the government as the first chief executive officer was seconded from the CBN. We had from there another, Dr. Usoh, who is a transporter, who studied the economy of transportation.
But then, we had Sarunmi and everything changed. Most of the ideas we are translating now were his, or ours if you like. He has vast experience in port management and brought that to the co-workers at NSC and laid the groundwork to being the economic regulator, the dry ports and vehicle transit areas.
The talk and whisper of equity and justice in a heterogeneous society will never go away from you when you are managing something, and we are grateful for our upbringing. I expect the NSC management to continue fruitful deliberations and engagements. Nothing contributes more to the GDP of this country than shipping, and transportation is key to the economy. Don’t be in maritime for maritime sake, be there for what you can contribute to the society. We have layers of consultation, and I will boast that we are the institution with most stakeholders in Nigeria.
We cannot do without stakeholders because you will come back and do it all over. Stakeholders are important, and then you are the servant, not the master. If you are in a government agency, that makes you a public servant, it is not the other way round, and we all contribute our quota. Remove arrogance and ignorance and serve the people, because that is what you are there to do. Unfortunately, some of us in some institutions think they are there as the lords. No, it is the stakeholders. Shippers’ Council, for example, is the secretariat of shippers’ associations at that time.
All meetings we go with shippers and stakeholders so that we could negotiate terms. The Nigerian press, I do not forget your accommodation of the Shippers’ Council. You are solid partners and critical stakeholders. I just want you to please unite so that you can be stronger. My colleagues at NIMASA, railway, CRFFN, NPA, NIWA, we have to start the building block, because there is a lack of synergy. We have to operate on the basis of equality because no agency is better than the other, all of us have a role to play – is it NITT, NIMASA or whatever. Agencies are not graded by their budget but by what they contribute. It is very unfortunate that some agencies think that maritime starts and stops with them.
No, it cannot be. Some agencies are all the time defending charities and that is not good. They spend so much money defending charities and neglect what they have to do. That is why we have problem, and that is what the Nigerian Shippers’ Council will not take from anybody, not now, not tomorrow, not forever. We are all equal and all have contributions to make; real, and not cosmetic cooperation. When I wrote to (Bashir) Jamoh and told him, you have a change to make. The shipping companies are complaining that you are making them bring manual documents. It has to be electronic, why do you demand this from them? He told me that in two weeks’ time, this will stop. That’s how it ought to be.
The same thing with the Nigerian Railway Corporation, we told them we have to have the rail move cargo, and there was cooperation everyday until this happened. But we must have the digitalisation of our ports, otherwise we are joking. I have seen the cooperation given by the shipping companies and the terminal operators. we have to export or perish. Export is another vista for trade facilitation that we have to look at and make sure we translate to the economy. We are working together with the Nigeria Customs Service, Central Bank of Nigeria, and we are doing that saving the economy. Why can’t I have cooperation with a sister-company in my ministry? You are not better than anybody. It cannot happen. And now, Shippers’ Council, through the intervention of the Ministry of Transportation, is involved in the concession agreement. What is wrong with being in the concession agreement? You are only party to that, why not democratise?
Why won’t freight forwarders have something to say on Lekki Deep Seaport? And now that the Shippers’ Council are being invited to participate at looking at the Lekki Deep Seaport in the quarterly meeting, that is good because we bring ideas together. If Shippers’ Council’s idea on traffic was bought and executed, there would never have been traffic on the Apapa Port road. We are happy we have a minister (Amaechi) who have been diligent, and a permanent secretary who understands that every agency has to contribute; there is no big agency, because big agencies crumble if they don’t do what they have to. So, I want this to be taken into consideration that we need and must have genuine collaboration. NSC is the lead agency of the port manual and this came because of its neutrality and professionalism, and this has to be looked at. We cannot have an agency lording over us. An agency is as good as its relationship with its ministry, you can’t be above your ministry.