As the Federal Government is said to be shopping for a suitable replacement for the leadership of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), strong indications have emerged that the long-neglected southeast zone might be favoured this time around. Reliable sources say the Transportation Minister, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi is already beaming a searchlight in this area, if anything, to assuage the concerns of a geo-political bloc which has suffered untold marginalization in key federal appointments especially in the current political dispensation.

Business & Maritime West Africa recalls that with the recent appointment of the NIWA Managing Director, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora as the Minister of State for Health, the federal inland water regulatory agency resumed the leadership vacuum that has been her lot for years. While attending a marime conference in Lagos, October 2017, former NIWA boss, Mr Boss Mustapha, was appointed Secretary to the Federal Government. It took not less than six months for a replacement to be made, thus leaving the agency rudderless.

Reacting to the development in Lagos, Friday, foremost maritime lawyer, Barrister Emmanuel Osuala Nwagbara, expressed happiness that the Minister is taking such a step at least to assuage the concerns of a critical but long-neglected political.

“I am enthralled by the news from the grapevine that the comeback Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi is diligently searching for a managing director of the National Inland Waterways Authority from the southeastern part of Nigeria”, he remarked.

He commended the Minister for embarking on what he referred to as an eventual poltical master stroke. “For one thing, it will have some assuaging effect on the psyche of southeasterners who have persistently complained of unmitigated marginalization in political office appointment by this administration.”

However, he cautioned that this time around, government must de-emphasize politics as has been the case and go out for a professional and specialist whose technical expertise and knowledge would help Nigeria achieve the aims and onjectives for establishing NIWA. He stressed the fact that whoever the minister would appoint to that office must be somebody who is not a practising politician.

“I use the word ‘practising politician’ because as often said, every living person is a political animal. A person that should occupy the office of Managing Director of NIWA must be somebody who would not be distracted by party politics and party politicking. He or she must be somebody who would position his or her radar on the National Inland Waterways Authority at all times of the day and night. This is because proper management and administration of the Nigerian inland waterways has direct bearing and impact on transportation of persons and goods by land, air and rail with a most soothing effect on road infrastructure.

Inland waterways transport, he stated, offers alternative to air and rail transportation in appropriate circumstances. “The would-be appointee must be a team player because the mandate of NIWA necessarily calls for synergy with other government agencies such as the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA, NPA, Nigerian Shippers Council, states waterways authorities, to mention but a few. Very importantly, the appointee must be a community person who must understand and appreciate the riverine community dwellers for the purposes of partnerships and constant interaction and engagement as important stakeholders in the inland waterways project. He or she must not be the office man or office woman, or a city man or city woman. If the right appointee of the office of Managing Director is picked to serve, such appointee would have time to superintendent over the making, implementation and enforcement of appropriate regulations that would transform inland waterways transportation from its present comatose and dreaded state to a longed-for travel experience that is leisure-spiced, safe and secure.”

Nwagbara noted that inland waterways are such a vast business market place where the organized private sector must play big. So, the office of Managing Director also demands an enterprising person who is ready to do business with the private sector entrepreneurs.

“Finally the Honourable Minister must not forget that to achieve success in the inland waterways administration in Nigeria, the helmsman of the administration must have maritime background”. Businessandmaritimewestafrica