By Shola Fadeyi
Chief Akin Ricketts, NPA Board Chairman
The Chairman of the new Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) , Chief Akin Ricketts ,has pledged that members of the Board would improve on the operations of the Nigerian Ports, and provide solutions to the issues of capacity utilisation and evacuation corridors confronting the seaports.
He made the promise while responding, on behalf of his other members, to the remarks of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, after he had inaugurated the Board in Abuja yesterday.
Ricketts said the major issues confronting our ports today are capacity utilisation and evacuation corridors, observing that while the Ports in the East were being grossly underutilised due to many factors, the efficiency of the Ports in Lagos ,was hampered by inadequate evacuation corridors.
He explained that the resultant effect, was congested roads, which ultimately hindered prompt service delivery, saying the Board intends to tackle this challenge head on, in conjunction with other stakeholders and management.
The NPA Chairman said that ,this would be done, with a view to ameliorating the sufferings of port users, and easing business transaction in the ports, as envisaged by the Federal Government.
The chairman disclosed that the Board would ensure, it gave every and any matter that came to its attention, the consideration it deserved, by dealing with it fairly and objectively, without favours or ill will.
He expressed appreciation to President Muammadu Buhari for considering them worthy of the appointment, and assured that they would be willing partners in the task of nation-building.
According to him, : “On behalf of my colleagues on the Board, I will like to assure Mr President, through you, the Minister, that we will do our utmost to ensure that his confidence in us is not misplaced and will not be abused.
“As a serious government on a national rescue mission, we assure you that we will immediately commence discharging our responsibility without hindrance.
“As an organisation that has been in existence since 1955, we are sure that NPA will have its share of challenges and issues that need to be resolved or needs immediate attention.We will do that in conjunction with the management and all relevant stakeholders.’’
He said that the Board would not consider itself an alternate management or be in competition with it but would collaborate to ensure the mission, vision and strategic objective of NPA were achieved.
Ricketts stated that the Board will create an atmosphere where employees will be given the opportunity to air their views, express dissent on any policy or action they feel strongly about ,and will ensure that this process is not unduly abused, as well as provide feedback mechanism for major stakeholders and ports users, to enhance service delivery, efficiency and capacity.
The Minister had earlier reminded the Board members that they should realize that they are not Management of NPA , but rather The Board , and as such , they must work together with the management, urging the Chairman to ensure that the inauguration covers members that are not present.
He said Nigeria is facing an unusual time, when it can’t afford to shut its seaports, but must continue to operate ,so that trade will progress , and people are able to feed, charging the Board, to make sure that, trade is facilitated at the Ports.
Members of the Board include Mohammed Koko, Onari Brown, Sen. Binta Garba, Sen. John Udoidighe, Abdulwahab Adesina, Ghazali Moh’d, Mustapha Dutse and Prof. Idris Abubakar.
Ricketts was a former Cross River State Commissioner for Information, while he contested for the Senatorial seat of Cross River Central District during the last general elections.
The Ricketts have a long history with the Ports which dates back over a century. The rich history started from an African-American Missionary to the Congo, Rev. John Edward Ricketts, a black Baptist minister from Stewart Town, Jamaica, and who was born in 1857 in the Caribbean Island of Jamaica.