Since October 2nd, 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed George Moghalu as the substantive Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), there have not been much activities in the agency.
We have noticed an unnerving quietness and uncanny silence from the authority.
NIWA, an agency of government which oversees water transportation and other ancillary services in the country, occupies a very crucial position in the Nigerian economy.
In the world over, just like rail transportation, inland waterways transportation has become an attractive alternative to other mode of transportation due its convenience, safety and cheap cost.
But in Nigeria, this vital mode of transportation has suffered a stunted growth due to lack of development and failure of government to take advantage of its full potentials.
By extension, NIWA, the agency charged with the functions of harnessing the potentials of Nigeria’s vast coastline and converting them to opportunities has over the years not lived to expectations.
Successive administrations in NIWA have strived to develop the inland waterways transportation to an attractive alternative to other mode of transportation, especially road transportation, but their efforts have fallen short of the acceptable standard.
This is despite the promises each of these chief executives made to improve the fortunes of the agency.
George Moghalu, the incumbent Managing Director of the agency, who is the fourth Chief executive of NIWA in the last seven years, made a similar pledge to better the lot of the agency.
In December 2019, during the end of the year party for staff, Moghalu made a solemn promise to sky jump the image of the agency and leave it better than he met it.
We never doubted the ability and capability of the APC chieftain but our worry is that we haven’t seen enough activities from the agency that will suggest the agency is set to fly since he took over.
Apart from the handing over ceremony of the October 8, 2019 and the December end of the year batch, not much has been heard of what Moghalu is doing to reposition the agency.
His predecessor, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, despite his short spell at the agency before he was appointed a minister, made a bold statement as to his intentions, mission and vision to revamp inland waterways transportation in the country.
He made a tour of all the NIWA formations in the country where he had first-hand information about the problems and prospects of the agency from the staff and stakeholders.
Of particular reference is his tour of the Lagos operational area where the Senator escaped death by the whiskers when his boat nearly capsized due to the wrecks and other underwater growth along the Lagos inland waterways channels which was the responsibility of NIWA to clear.
That unfortunate incident made Mamora to order for the evacuation of the waterways debris that had been the death traps in the channels for years.
Mamora made this discovery by not sitting in the comfort of his cosy office in Lokoja but by going to the operational areas of the agency where he was confronted with the rot in the system.
We recalled he made these eye-opening tours few weeks after he assumed duties.
Five months into his tenure, we cannot readily recall if Chief Muoghalu had made similar familiarisation working tour of the operational areas of the agency.
We recalled vividly that the Lagos Area office of NIWA issued a press statement in November, 2019, that Moghalu was embarking on a two-day tour of the Lagos Area office on Thursday 14th and Friday 15th, November 2019 where he was supposed to tour the facilities of the area office on Thursday and then meet with the stakeholders the following day when he was meant to engage them on how to make the waterways better.
The expectant stakeholders were sourly disappointed when the NIWA MD failed to show up.
We equally recall in one of our editorial writings how we alluded to the failure of the MD to visit Lagos stakeholders despite the media hype by the Lagos office of the agency.
We were castigated and lambasted by the General Manager, Public Relations of NIWA, Tayo Fadile who called us names and outrightly disowned his Lagos office over the press statement.
An irate Fadile had said that the MD did not approve that he was coming to Lagos before the Lagos Area manager issued the press statement.
According to him, the MD cannot cancel the trip he never approved of.
Even though we had since taken the intolerance of the Media Manager of NIWA to an issue which emanated from his area office in our stride, but that incident clearly showed a sickening disconnect and lack of communication between the NIWA headquarters and its area office in Lagos.
This, to us, is not the best way to “sky-jump” the image of the agency.
Agreed that the MD didn’t approve of his hyped Lagos tour by his Lagos office in November and granted the fact that his Area Manager was being overzealous in an attempt to make him visit the nucleus of the operational areas of NIWA, is it not long enough time for the MD to visit Lagos operational area of the agency?
If for five months in the saddle, the MD has not deemed it fit to meet with the stakeholders in Lagos and other operational areas of the agency to get first-hand knowledge of what will make him succeed especially from stakeholders, we then wonder when it is going to be appropriate time to do so.
Unless such visit was shrouded in secrecy without the knowledge of the media, we are yet to be aware of any of such official visit.
Our stand is more out of concern for the success of Moghalu as the MD of NIWA rather than what could be misconstrued as an act of animosity or hostility towards him.
We have no reason to antagonise the new MD but we have a duty to tell him to firm up his commitment to making NIWA better and greater than how he met it.
At least, this was the promise he gave Nigerians on him resumption of duties.
We are worried by the seeming snail speed of the activities of NIWA under Moghalu especially concerning revamping the non-vibrant inland waterways transportation in the country.
The timidity of NIWA in the discharge of its duties in recent times, especially in the Lagos area, has made the Federal agency concede initiatives and relevance to Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).
In the wake of the restrictions on okada and tricycle movement in Lagos which has hampered the movement of commuters, we expect NIWA to rise up to the occasion by cashing on the opportunities thrown up by the policy to make water transportation more attractive alternative.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t feel the impact of NIWA rather it was LASWA which has taken the bull by the horns through numerous innovative operations on the Lagos waterways channels.
We urge Chief Moghalu to breath more life into the agency in order to make it more vibrant and position it to meet the yearnings of the stakeholders.
Through this, the MD will be able to fulfil his promise of leaving the agency better than he met it.
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