By Foster Obi
At first glance this headline could be misleading. At closer look it also sounds prophetic. However it could also be misunderstood. This is because we have a substantive Minister of Transportation in the person of Senator Ahmed Alkali duly appointed by President Bola Tinubu.
The last time he spoke, he pledged to undertake the modernisation, rehabilitation, planning and development of the rail transport sector with efficient security.
Alkali, while resuming duty in Abuja, said he would support the primary purpose of government and maximise the potential in the recent constitution alterations that moved rail transport services from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List. So he knows his turf.
Then, why bandy the name Barrister Hassan Bello and who is he? Recent research showed that this name evokes a lot of goodwill in the maritime sector. When this regime was inaugurated, certain voices rose in his favour asking that the brilliant but self effacing lawyer who has deep knowledge of the Maritime industry be given the task to man the Ministry.
When the President came up with the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy his name was suggested severally.
Stakeholders obviously understand the worth of this man and are worried that such a man of deep accomplishment as NSC boss is allowed to waste rather than make use of his enormous potentials in another capacity.
The lesson in this is that Nigerians recognize performance where it exists and will always root for men of tested capacity to man positions of authority. Whether those in such position to make this a reality will hearken to voices of reason is another kettle of fish.
Barrister Hassan Bello finished his tenure as the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) on June 19, 2020 after spending eight and a half years in the position.
Bello was first appointed Acting Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the NSC in December 2012 following the expiration of the second and final four-year term of Capt. Adamu Biu. Until that appointment, Bello was the Council’s Director of Legal Services.
He was appointed as the substantive ES/CEO of the Council on June 20, 2013 for a four-year tenure by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, then in his capacity as Nigeria’s Acting President, renewed Bello’s appointment for a second four-year term on June 20, 2017 which elapsed on June 19, 2020.
His exit was not without fanfare after officially ending his career at the agency after twenty two years of service; including the eight and half years in the council’s topmost leadership position.
Statesmen, captains of industries, corporate associates, friends, well wishers and stakeholders, including the then Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, and the Permanent Secretary of the Transportation Ministry, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, gathered at the Eko Hotels and Suites to wish him well as he gave his valedictory speech.
Amaechi said he was overwhelmed with emotion over the disengagement of Bello at this critical period. He expressed frustration over the delay in getting the National Transport Commission, NTC, off the ground, noting that the Commission would have been an ideal critical spot to absorb Bello back into the system, for the benefit of the country.
Chief Adebayo Sarumi, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and one time Shippers Council boss described Bello thus: “I am proud to say that I employed him into NSC as a lawyer and he is a man we need as a transport coordinator. He is Mr. lntermodalism, and fair play technocrat and leader. At the point we left the Shippers Council, my concern and wish was when will Bello get to leadership position, because l knew his worth and drive.
“One, two CEOs were appointed, and l was like, oh when? Then he was announced and l said, yes, now Shippers Council will take its place. He is a bundle of humility, brilliance and commitment. He has taken the Council to the highest possible pinnacle, and if this multitude here is for him, needless l say more. Hassan is a man of the people and man of vision and drive.”
Also giving her tribute, late ship owner and Council Board Member, Mrs. Margret Orakwusi, said Bello has given a lot to the shipping industry and expressed the hope that having distinguished himself, the country would appreciate him by giving him a higher appointment.
“Everybody that has come in contact with Hassan Bello can only go away with one impression, a nationalist and economic crusader. Just like the honourable minister of transportation has said, we are all emotional, but l will not complain because Hassan has distinguished himself. By the time he has rested a little, l hope the federal government will be waiting for him”, she noted.
All the encomiums showered on Bello is not the usual rhetoric done (tongue in cheek), when people disengage from office.
This one is well loved by everybody yet this tempting admixture does not affect his deliverables. He knows when to draw the line.
This was why his tenure of superintending NSC as port regulator was quite phenomenal. If there was anything, he put the terminal operators and shipping companies where they belonged. This obviously happened without a fight but in the end he got all parties involved to operate within the law.
He did quite a lot as NSC boss that the current Executive Secretary, Emmanuel Jime told DFC News recently that if he did all that with the resources he had then, he was more of magician than technocrat.
It is a testimony to Bello’s brinkmanship, a story of a man who believes more in getting the job done, than giving excuses.
Having studied Bello’s antecedents, most stakeholders believe he will be very useful to this government, even in other capacities.
The position is that the government of the day should learn to make use of tested hands than dumping on us lame duck politicians who are only professionals in siphoning public funds within nothing to show after their tenure.
President Muhammadu Buhari conferred on Bello the prestigious National Honours Award Of Order of the Niger (OON).
The award was in recognition of his contribution to the maritime industry in the years he served as executive secretary of the Shippers’ Council.
It was expected to spur Bello to serve the country in other capacities as directed by the then incoming administration led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Stakeholders are quite confident that this government will find it auspicious to tap Bello’s experience to grow the economy as an insider, before we lose him totally to law practice.
Picture: Barrister Hassan Bello