By Jimmy Lace, Warri

Sultan of Sokoto

A group, Niger Delta Indigenous Movement for Radical Change has drawn a battle line with the Honourable Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Sulaiman and the Sultan of Sokoto over what it described as witch- hunting of the Director-General of the National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi.

The Director-General, according to report has been having a running battle with his board and management as well as the Transport Minister believed to be instigating the Board against him.

But the Niger Delta Indigenous Movement for Radical Change recently warned the Transport Minister to put an immediate end to “The witch hunting” of one of their own.

According to the group in a statement, the Transport Minister and the Sultan of Sokoto were behind the woes of the Director-General of NIMASA and threatened to make the Federal Ministry of Transport, Abuja a hot place for the Minister and his cohorts.

The group claimed that the ordeal of the Director-General of NIMASA may not be unconnected with certain documents he refused to sign for the Transport Minister.

In a statement jointly signed by the President, Nelly Emma, Secretary, John Sailor and Public Relations Officer, Mukoro Stanley, the group said; “We have stumbled into certain documents that the Transport Minister wants the Director-General of NIMASA to sign at all costs to protect his interest, that of the Sultan of Sokoto and few others in the North and because he is not playing the game their own way, he is being frustrated as Director-General.”

The group then warned seriously, “But let it be made clear here and now that we are not going to accept this gang-up between the Transport minister and the Sultan of Sokoto against the Director-General of NIMASA, a worthy son of the Niger Delta region. Any attempt to frustrate him by anybody from the North will be resisted by our people and we will make the Ministry one hell of a place.”

The group also threatened that; “We are not going to take it easy with anybody again standing on the way of one of our own in the person of Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi; we are no fools for allowing the dredging of the River Niger to the North. We know what to do at the appropriate time if this fight against the Director-General does not end now.
We will fight anybody no matter how highly placed over the Director-General and make the Federal Ministry of Transport a hot bed. Do not take this warning for granted, we hate to be dared especially when one of our own from the Niger Delta region is being treated like a slave in his own country; we say enough is enough.”

The group recalled that; “Only recently, we put up a good fight against Nigerian oil and gas major and other stakeholders aggrieved with the reappointment of our daughter, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke to the Petroleum Resources Ministry and in the same vein, we are by this statement warning the Transport Minister, the Sultan of Sokoto and other stakeholders fighting a dirty politics with the Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi to desist from this act or you will have us to contend with.”

But the threat of the group was short-lived as President Jonathan acting on wise counsel on Monday “suddenly” redeployed the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman to the National Sports Commission (NSC). The popular thinking was that the redeployment was over a disagreement with Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director-General Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi.

It was a different ball game in the Ministry of Transport where the cold war between the minister and the DG of NIMASA led to the redeployment of the Minister.

“For instance, the President was disturbed by security reports that the Chief Detail of the ex-Minister of Transport (Suleiman) allegedly assaulted the DG of NIMASA at the ministry last Thursday.”

“Security agencies had last Friday investigated the incident and indicted the minister for ‘not being tidy.’

Also, there has been a cold war between the Minister and the DG over restructuring and cost cutting measures being put in place in NIMASA.

“Since NIMASA DG came on board, he has resisted attempts to use the agency to bear statutory recurrent expenditure of the ministry like estacodes for foreign trips, demands for contingency funds with written records to prove these, request for suspicious contracts and arm-twisting by officials of the Ministry.”

“For instance, when the DG assumed duties, he discovered that NIMASA’s headquarters was not connected to public electricity supply, instead, the agency was hiring generator at N150,000 per day outside the purchase of diesel.”

“What the DG did was to connect NIMASA to PHCN supply. And the cartel making fortunes from generator hiring has not been happy.”

“Another issue inherited was hiring of boats to patrol waterways at $11,000 (#1.650m) per day but the DG succeeded in reducing the cost to #330,000. Although, Suleiman was nominated into the cabinet by the Sultan of Sokoto, the President felt the assault on the DG was not in line with his transformation agenda.”