Editor's PickEditorialIllicit Trade NIMASA’S 17 Billion New Headquarters: A White Elephant Purchase By maritimemag July 12, 2021221 views ShareTweet 0 Last week Wednesday, at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, told journalists that the Council has approved the princely sum of N17.4 billion to purchase a new Headquarters for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA). The proposed new headquarters is a 16- storey high rise building on the Victoria Island. Our initial reaction to this news was that of shock and disbelief. We were shocked at what we consider as needless but wanton misuse of public funds on a project we feel should not be a priority of government in an industry that needs funds for critical projects. We also find it hard to believe if a government that claimed to be challenged by paucity of funds could really engage in such a needless spending. To us at Nigeriamaritime 360, this particular expenditure is needless and wasteful. We are yet to get a convincing reason why the present NIMASA headquarters on Burma Road, Apapa, is no longer suitable and conductive to the staff and management of the agency. For those who are not conversant with the maritime industry, NIMASA, an apex regulatory agency of the industry, is quartered in a magnificent nine- storey building that is conspicuously visible in the beautiful skyline of Apapa Port City. Moreso, the building had just been renovated with billions of tax payers money. The interior of the building is as conducive, magnificent, exquisite and aesthetically pleasing as the exterior which can boast of the necessary modern working tools one can imagine. The building is a beauty to behold and an envy of other government agencies in the industry. We are at a loss, just like any other concerned industry stakeholders, why government still finds it more expedient to splash an humongous sum of N17.4 billion on the so called new NIMASA headquarters. The only reason why government may want to acquire the new building is that “it consists of the latest technology fittings, helipad and parking bay for over 100 cars”. This reason, as adduced by the Minister, is not only laughable and ridiculous but mundane as they are not enough reasons to splash such amount on another building. For us, such reasons are not justifiable in the face of paucity of funds. Can’t such “latest technology fittings” be installed in the present headquarters to boost productivity? What direct impact would an “helipad and car park for over 100 cars” have on the productivity of NIMASA staff? For us, this purchase is not only unnecessary and misplaced priority but a huge white elephant project. It is even ridiculous to site NIMASA headquarters outside the port domain where it is expected to serve its public. We find it ironic and rather curious that whereas government has been foot-dragging for over 17 years to disburse the Cabotage vessels financing funds (CVFF) that will aid indigenous capacity in Cabotage trade, but finds it rather expedient to quickly approve the sum of N17.4 billion to acquire a property that NIMASA does not desperately need. We however, wonder what informed this uninformed and hasty purchase. Did the management of NIMASA complain and make a request to government for a new headquarters? Or did the Minister, in his own wisdom and understanding, decide that the present magnificent NIMASA’S head office is not good enough for the agency We are curious like many right thinking stakeholders in the industry, to know at whose instance such needless purchase was made especially in the face of growing national external debt profile. This is why we want the National Assembly to look at this particular purchase to determine its exigency and expediency and in whose interest it was made. To us, there are lot of things NIMASA could do with that money rather than splashing it on a white elephant project as the high rise building on the Victoria island © 2021, maritimemag. All rights reserved.