Bello-Koko: Resetting NPA for Efficiency, by Ismail Aniemu

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Bello-Koko, Acting MD, NPA

Armed with a combination of the financial sector and maritime experience at managerial levels, Mohammed Bello-Koko is obviously relentless in making the Nigerian port system work better

Under the watch of Mohammed Bello-Koko, Acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), there is a renewed vigour for improved stakeholder engagement, consistent accountability, enhanced port security and a more user-friendly system in accordance with global best practices.

As a product of providence, the Acting MD is rallying stakeholders, security agencies and the NPA workforce in evolving a more productive system that suits national interest and builds stakeholders’ confidence.

His optimism to do better gives hope that the days of lingering traffic situation on the port access corridor, insecurity of barges and other inherited challenges are almost over.

He has within a short time exhibited tendencies to strengthen the existing relationship among government agencies within the port community

While charging newly appointed Assistant Inspector General of the Nigeria Police in charge of Maritime and the Nigerian Navy to end the cases of attacks on vessels, barge operators and other port facilities around the waterfronts and channels, he described security as vital to business success.

The NPA under him has also charged the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on the need to clear all encumbrance and bottlenecks that impede the free flow of traffic on all port corridors with a view to ensuring efficient and effective handling of cargo in and out of the nation’s seaports.

The Managing Director spoke during a meeting between the AIG Maritime, AIG Amadi John Ogbonnaya, officials of Lagos State Government, Commander of the NNS Beecroft, Commodore Bashiru, Mohammed who was represented by Lt Commander A.S Manga and Sector Commander of the FRSC, Matthew Cyril Zango, among others and government agencies in the maritime industry.

According to a press statement by Olaseni Alakija, General Manager in charge of Corporate and Strategic Communications, the MD said there was an urgent need for the AIG Maritime and indeed other security agencies to assist the authority in addressing the rising cases of attacks on vessels, barge operators and other port facilities especially around the waterfronts and the channel areas.

He also sought the support of the AIG in helping to address the persistent complaints by stakeholders over extortion, illegal mounting of roadblocks by uniform personnel from the security agencies, associations and unions, all of who operate along the seaport corridors comprising also Tin Can-Coconut, Mile 2, Orile, around the SIFAX Terminal on Ijora-Olopa as well as Police Area B, Wharf and Creek Roads, among others.

He added that efforts are being intensified to dismantle all illegal checkpoints with a call to truck drivers to resist extortion.

“I wish to use this opportunity to thank the Lagos State Government, the FRSC and the PAPC of the Lagos State Police Command for their support and collaboration with the NPA on the enforcement of the Electronic Call-Up System, called ‘Eto’ and the Clearance Operation.

“The authority would like the AIG to use his good office to assist in the following areas of interest or concern; strengthening the existing collaboration between the Lagos State Police Command and the PAPC, assist in the challenge of persistent complaints by stakeholders of extortion and erecting illegal roadblocks by uniformed security operatives from government security agencies, unions and associations on Port corridors.

“Other issues requiring the AIG’s urgent attention include assisting in follow-ups with the Force Headquarters Abuja for additional maritime Police personnel/gunnery to enable the authority commission its newly acquired patrol boats.

“To assist in the follow-up for the establishment of Marine Police units in Calabar and Delta Ports respectively”, Bello Koko said.

The MD, who warmly welcomed the new AIG, congratulated him on his recent elevation, said the NPA management looks forward to working with him and improving the existing relationship between the authority and the Police high command.

In another development, the MD has said the authority is willing to collaborate with maritime stakeholders in order to ensure the success of the electronic call-up system, known as the ‘Eto’.

Speaking during a recent interactive session with stakeholders held at the authority’s corporate headquarters on Marina, Lagos, the MD disclosed that security agencies, stakeholders and the Lagos State Government have agreed to streamline operational procedures to curtail extortion and sharp practices that hamper the enforcement of the truck traffic management at Apapa and the entire Maritime logistic Ring (MLR).

He said: “The management of the NPA, is seeking more partnership from the authority’s vast stakeholders towards stimulating the eto, the electronic call-up system to considerable success.

“There is, therefore, the need for all security agencies as well as operators to rub minds, share information on the subject of eto and the truck traffic management in Apapa in relation to proffering solutions to the gridlock in the Port environment. “Let us jointly work in greater unison to resolve this issue that has become worrisome “

The NPA chief security officer also appreciated Lagos State Government, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Port Authority Police, for their unflinching support on the subject of eto enforcement.

At a recently held management retreat, he also talked of his team’s desire to see a reduction of cargo dwell time

According to him, improving the turnaround time of vessels and reducing cargo dwell time is critical to attracting more vessels to Nigerian ports.

This will optimize the business opportunities with landlocked countries who could de with whom Nigeria shares borders, as it presents a critical success factor in actualising the Authority’s growth projections.

According to him, the need to attract larger vessels and maximally benefit from the economies of scale that come with them shows that the ongoing efforts to have deep seaports in Lekki, Badagry and Ibom amongst others are steps in the right direction.

Bello Koko, who said this during the opening ceremony of the 2021 Strategic Management Retreat of NPA staff at Marriot Hotel, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday, August 19, 2021, noted that NPA is constantly scaling up its responsibility of dredging channels to safely berth vessels of reasonable sizes, whilst encouraging the use of flat bottom vessels (FBV) in areas with low draught in the meantime.

The NPA boss stated that the drive towards attaining the compliance status for Quality Management System (ISO 9001), Environment Management System (ISO 14001) as well as Occupational Health & Safety Management System (ISO 45001) is not a fluke, and all hands must be on deck to make it a reality.

He said: “As an Authority that is poised to create and sustain competitive advantage by offering best-in-class port operations, a meeting of minds of this nature to strategise and craft smart actionable steps towards assuring the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of our port system is germane.

“The Authority under this management is being positioned for greater efficiency, safety and accountability. These are the essential factors that determine our prospects and capacity to garner greater market shares.

According to the MD, the following efforts are being made to make this a reality: infrastructural renewal and expansion; the introduction of barge operations, automation of transit (e-call up), improvement in the sources of revenue and collections, plugging income leakages and reducing overhead costs and elimination of monopolistic conduct.

Others are formulation and implementation of policies aimed at incentivizing patronage of the Eastern Ports; encouragement of competition, keeping up with the dictates of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) and Fiscal Responsibility Act, compliance with international best practices, elimination of red tape and employment morale and capacity building.

Bello Koko pointed out that the aforementioned initiatives have laid the groundwork for some milestone achievements with great potential for more as some of the reforms continue to transform into successes, evidenced by improved cargo throughput and revenue growth.

He further explained that excellence is a moving target, and the NPA cannot afford to rest on our laurels but must redouble its commitment to continuously improve as organisational culture.

“Surpassing the internal and external stakeholders’ expectations which constitute a cardinal objective of this management, will require your unalloyed support as heads Directorates, Divisions, Locations, Department Ports, Sections and Units respectively. I, therefore, expect that this retreat churns out specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals and objectives by which we would be benchmarking ourselves into the next five years.

“The Authority’s vision of becoming the leading port in Africa is achievable, but we must never forget the words of organisational behaviour expert Professor Lee Bolman that “a vision without a strategy remains an illusion”. I say this to underscore the importance of this retreat. The last time an event of this magnitude was held to chart a new direction for the Authority was over a decade ago where our present vision, mission and core values were crafted.

“We must therefore go beyond rhetoric to churn out implementable strategies aimed at making us equal to the exigencies of the very competitive age and sector that we operate in.

“The disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic present a learning curve, especially for organisations such as ours that operate in a sector that is global in scope to be constantly ready for dynamics in the form of increased competition and innovation.”

Bello Koko assured of his management’s unflinching commitment to implement the outcomes of the recent management retreat.

There is also the deliberate move to strengthen the country’s economic relations through the NPA with other countries as recently shown in its tie with the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, especially in the area of port and shipping operations to enable both countries to participate competitively in global trade.

This is particularly in developing a multimodal port system that would reduce the cost of shipments in and out of the country.

PROFILE

Mohammed Bello-Koko (Executive Director, Finance and Administration)
Mohammed Bello-Koko was born on the 25th March 1969 in Koko-Besse Local Government area of Kebbi State. He attended the Federal Government College, Sokoto for his Secondary education in 1986 before proceeding to the University of Sokoto for his first degree in Management Studies (B.Sc) in 1992. Mohammed continued at the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto for his Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) in 1995.

Mohammed Bello-Koko started his career with FSB International Bank Plc, Port Harcourt from 1996 to 2004 as Executive Trainee-Banking Operations. He rose to several positions amongst which are Banking Officer-Credit and later Senior Banking Officer-Senior Treasury Officer, Senior Banking Officer-Energy Sector (ENSEC) in charge of managing various oil & gas related multinational accounts and sub-contractors. He was Assistant Manager (Credit & Marketing) where he was Head, branch credit risk analyst, and later became Deputy Manager-Branch Manager/Marketing in charge of initiating, processing and monitoring of good quality risk assets, management of existing accounts and providing leadership Training.

He then joined Zenith Bank Plc in 2005 as a Manager-Team Head, Public Sector and Large Corporate. There again he rose to the positions of:-

Senior Manager- Head Public sector Group, where he supervised all the public sector teams in order to grow public sector business in Rivers State.
Assistant General Manager/Zonal Head where he was Group Head for Public Sector and Zonal head in-charge of Branches under one of Rivers/Bayelsa Zones.
Deputy General Manager and Zonal Head which made him a member of the Bank’s Executive Management team, a position he held since 2013 until he proceeded on leave of absence in 2015 before his appointment as Executive Director Finance of the Nigerian Ports Authority.
As a result of his leadership and contributions to the bank, his branches received several awards amongst which are

a) 2nd most Profitable Branch

b) Most profitable Branch Bank wide July 2015

c) The Best Group OGR and Taxes Collection Bank-wide in 2012

d) Best Branch in Deposit Mobilization (South-South) since 2009

e) Best Revenue Generation (South-South) since 2009

At the various times between 2009-2015, Mohammed Bello-Koko has also named the Best Staff in Income (Revenue) Deposit Mobilization (S-S) from 2009-2015. Bello-Koko is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) and the Institute of Strategic Management, Nigeria (ISMN). He has attended various courses at renowned International Institutions and Training Centers.

He joined NPA in 2016 as an Executive Director in charge of Finance and Administration and has, for about half of a decade, deepened his exposure to maritime matters with a bias for port administration.

Mr Aniemu is the publisher of Lagos based Journal NG

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