In October 2020, at the heat of Endsars protest, hoodlums who masqueraded as #ENDSARS protestors torched the magnificent Headquarters building of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
The unfortunate incident elicited an outpouring of grief and condolences from sympathisers who tried to outdo one another in their solidarity with the NPA.
Among the sympathisers who then daily thronged the Marina Headquarters of the super-rich government agency, were the terminal operators.
In November, the operators, under the auspices of Seaports Terminal Operators Association Of Nigeria (STOAN) led by its indefatigable Chairperson, Princess Vicky Haastrop, trooped to the NPA Head office to sympathise with Hadiza Bala Usman, the Managing Director of the agency and her management team.
They promised to stand and support the grief-stricken agency in its time of trials.
Last week, December 8th, 2020, some of the operators started to back their words with action.
ENL Consortium, operators of Terminals B and C at the Lagos ports complex, Apapa came with a consignment of office equipment such as computers, photocopiers and printers as gifts to NPA to cushion the effects of the arson.
Port and Cargo Handling Services Limited, another operator of Terminal C at the Tin Can Island Port, followed suit with a similar donation to the NPA.
Earlier in November, PTML, a RORO terminal operator at the Tin Can ports and owners of Grimaldi shipping, gifted NPA with a brand new Hilux Jeep.
We are sure many more terminal operators will come to the NPA with their “hand outs” as they would not want to be left out of the game.
To the undiscerning, there may be nothing wrong with such a gesture from the terminal operators. After all, donation of gift items, especially during times of grief as with the NPA, is a sign of kindness and solidarity.
In as much as we appreciate such kind gesture by the terminal operators, we however view the gesture with strong suspicion.
We regard them as Greek gifts, especially from the terminal operators to the NPA.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, NPA is the regulator of the terminal operators in the port Industry. Under the 2006 Concession programme, the NPA ceded its terminal operations to the concessionaires.
Statutorily, the NPA is the technical regulator to the terminal operators. The agency ensures the operators play the game by the rules. In a layman’s language, NPA is the landlord while the terminal operators are the tenants in the port industry.
As a result of this relationship, we consider the terminal operators’ donations to the NPA as highly compromising. Such gifts could inadvertently compromise the NPA in exercising its roles as a regulator over the terminal operators.
A landlord who is in the habit of collecting gifts from his tenants may have inadvertently whittled down his influence and ability to enforce some of the tenement laws.
It is in this mold we consider the “kind gesture” of the terminal operators to the NPA as Greek gifts. In as much as our position may be controversial, we do not by any means suggest that NPA should be aversed to taking gifts and donations.
However, what we are saying is that there are certain gifts the agency should not receive if it wants to be effective in its role as a regulatory agency.
We wonder how the NPA would wield the big stick if ENL Consortium or Port and Cargo Handling Services commit any infraction in their services. Similarly, it would be interesting to see how NPA would handle any case of indiscretion against the PTML which “dashed” it a brand new Hilux Jeep. The best the agency could do in such a situation is to treat them with kid gloves because one good turn deserves another.
We are amused at the swiftness and alacrity at which operators rushed their gifts to the NPA.
We believe that there are needy organisations, groups and individuals to whom such gifts would have been more appropriate
and less compromising as the corporate social responsibilities of these generous terminal operators.
There are many schools within the area of operations of these concessionaires to which these computers and printers would have been more appreciated and less suspicious in motive.
In as much as the NPA needs every support it could garner at this trying period, we urge the super-rich agency to be wary of the types of gifts and donations it receives in order not to compromise its sacred duties as the technical regulator of the shrewd business interests that operate at the ports as terminal operators
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