By AbdulMumuni Nureni-Bello
Isn’t it an irony that Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo, a self-effacing, patriotic, hardworking, sincere and compassionate individual, has been continuously drawn out of his beautiful and enviable private life, just because a pretentious cartel that feigns to ‘hate money’ but lives a life that only money – perhaps illicit money – can sustain wants what he has?
It therefore belies logic that a private individual, who has continued to invest his hard-earned money into staggering, commendable philanthropy, to ultimately improve the cause of humanity, is the target of the sudden attacks of some people, both on the political and business fronts.
But that’s easy to decipher, anyway. They desire what he has, not just in terms of money or influence, but good deeds, character and sound upbringing. Even the Holy Book talks about the spirit of envy and victimisation. It condemns it, because it’s evil; not of the Lord.
The latest spin against this illustrious son of Bini Kingdom was from the stable of the Editor, Saturday title of the THISDAY Newspapers, Yemi Adebowale. It’s been a long time I read a title editor of a major national daily plunge cheaply into the arena with mutilated facts, discarding every iota of circumspection.
First, this was disturbing somewhat, because journalism, like a few other great callings, is guided by basic and simple rules, however, considered by its practitioners as golden.
Thus, for a title editor of a major and prominent national daily, balancing accounts is sacrosanct, whether it is a column, analysis, feature or basic news story. But, in the event, that your facts had not been confirmed, the rule says, leave out. You cannot claim to be under any form of pressure to the detriment of the credibility of your company and the hard earned reputation of other people, whom you can only aspire to be. Pray you get any close.
However, after researching into Adebowale’s kind of person, it was not disappointing to learn from some of his colleagues, both within and outside the newspaper company, how he is wired. He accords details and research no respect.
One would be committing same offence to, therefore, reel off some of the commentaries about him. But to the THISDAY management, there’s a lot to do to help him. The likes of Adebowale requires periodic re-training to measure up to standard in every definition of the word, if he must start to live up to billings.
That said, it is also disturbing to note that anyone would be back in this station and on this very matter over the Secured Anchorage Area (SAA) of the Lagos Waterways, managed by the Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, a going concern owned by Captain Hosa and which has lived up to its reputation over the last 14 years.
There’s no debating the fact that the Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman has more than an official interest in the SAA and does not hide it except for the likes of Adebowale, who would rather gloss over the obvious but focus on sheer pizzas and flashes – without any substance whatsoever.
Even if the renowned love of Hadiza’s life was a stakeholder in the sector and wanted everything to go his way, did it mean others with equally critical stakes in the sector and the Nigerian project should be destroyed on account of the billionaire in question?
Let’s revisit the facts again, perhaps, for the record. There’s no gainsaying the fact that the cooperation and support provided by the Ocean Marine Solution Limited (OMSL) to the Nigerian Navy in securing the Lagos delineation of the nation’s waterways has been the biggest relief savoured in recent time against unceasing pirates’ attacks, which in turn has boosted revenue significantly.
Anyone would appreciate this more, when the situation is juxtaposed with the experience of investors and stakeholders in the Port Harcourt axis of the waterways, the home state of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, where the pirates have continued to have a field day, without as much a resistance from any security architecture put in place and designed for such purposes.
But in Lagos, with the cooperation and support that the OMSL has continued to give to the Nigerian Navy, the state now has its Secured Anchorage Area (SAA) sufficiently protected, a situation that is not only encouraging to investors but has further motivated stakeholders to function more effectively.
It’s bad enough that some stakeholders had earlier approached the NPA leadership on the need for better security funding for the Lagos waterways, to which it replied it could not muster the amount of money in question, before they turned to OMSL for this effective and mutual cooperation, which has continued to yield desired results.
This also informed why stakeholders in the industry frowned at a recent order, which allegedly came from the Hadiza-led NPA, threatening to arrest and sanction operators at SAA. That was to say the least, disturbing and counterproductive. The stakeholders even wrote a letter to that effect to the president, Muhammadu Buhari, and had it published in some of the major national dailies.
On the contrary, as a function of procedure and protocol, assuming there were allegations of infractions, which must be entered properly for record purposes, the right thing to do would have been to report the development to the Nigerian Navy, which in turn, would investigate such claims and take appropriate action to stem the tide.
But to sit in the comfort of her office and out of sheer vendetta, victimisation and favouritism, dish out orders to the Navy to arrest vessels they were meant to protect, not only questioned her understanding of the operations of that sector but also spoke to getting unduly involved in a purely business and security concerns.
To think that the agency under Hadiza has no alternative security architecture in place in the event that the frustration of OMSL continues, the resort to rethinking the allegations of sabotage in the many attacks by the pirates might be inevitable.
To support this position, which her spin-doctors were blinded to, not only did the Senate clear OMSL and give it a clean bill to continue with its good work of assisting the Nigerian Navy to protect the Lagos waterways by providing the much-needed logistics after listening to the submission of stakeholders; the OMSL has also enjoyed commendation from foreign partners for doing an irresistibly good job at the Lagos waterways.
In addition, the submission by Captain Hosa on the operations of OMSL at SAA during the Senate hearing was so stellar that he left the chambers with his shoulders high and other stakeholders as well as the legislative committee members proud of him. He knew the issues and sold them conveniently without resorting to lies or cheap blackmail.
Therefore, to fault Adebowale’s submission that Hadiza “came to the job with a reform agenda, largely, to block leakages of revenue and stifle contractors from taking advantage of the NPA to line their pockets with money due to the federal government”, the opposite has been the case. He would do well by doing some soul-searching.
Sadly, Hadiza came to the job with crass immaturity and gross inexperience in a highly technical turf and rather than take the pains to learn the intricate nuances, she’s been preoccupied with just one agenda: to protect the business concerns of an individual, known in the industry as the love of her life. How is that doing the job of the federation entrusted to her or executing a reform agenda?
There’s no way to spin this, picking on Captain Hosa alone is a clear indication that there’s more to it. Adebowale mentioned some other interests but not the names of those behind them. He, however, went all out depicting Captain Hosa in his compromised mindset, because Adebowale thought the retired commercial pilot was his pay master’s problem at NPA.
As an editor of the category that THISDAY generously but erroneously placed Adebowale, he would have saved himself some embarrassment, if he had spoken to other stakeholders, say in LADOL and the BUA Group and asked how much of victimisation they had so far suffered in the hands of Hadiza, just because she was and is still determined to protect the interest of just one man. I’m sure they would speak to him off-the-record to, at least, cure his poisonous ignorance.
It was, therefore, not surprising in any form or shape that people, who were supposed to supervise as well as guide a delinquent and irreverent MD would also go on a national television to corroborate lies and fictions, only to justify their premeditated plans against an innocent man, who is legitimately doing his business and following the laws of the land.
The interesting thing is that the heads of both the ministry and the agency are products of the approval of the Senate, the same way the senate had given SAA a clean bill of health to continue with its operations. We either live by the laws of our land or quit when we are too big to be guided by them.
Captain Hosa has chosen to be a patriotic Nigerian, who would do right and seek justice, wherever and whenever his rights are impugned. The current play at SAA is not an exception. He is by far more of a blessing than those, who are abusing their privileged positions today. But tomorrow, when they are no more, posterity would speak to their records too, in clear unmistaken language.
*Nureni-Bello wrote from Abuja