Engr C. I. U. Ibia
Highlights of his interview
His career with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); the motivation for sea life; how he joined seafaring, the interview; the schools they were sent to, Willesden Technical College; training aboard Elder Dempster ship, Salagar; the combination of seatime and college time, from 1960-1970, to become a chief engineer; how they were seconded to the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) in 1974; transfer to Nigerline UK; transfer and promotion to Lagos headquarters; colleagues and where they were working in public and private sector; his preparation to be the manager of the 19 new ships’ acquisition; his working relationship with Capt. Ebong and how rivalry was quelled; the near-sabotage at sea of Mv King Jaja, the first all-Nigerian-crewed ship to make an ocean voyage; how the ship was saved from sinking by repair at sea; the party held for them on arrival in Lagos in 1970; problem suspected to have arisen from British workers in NNSL who wanted to forestall full Nigerianization of NNSL; press conference by Polish General Manager to say that Nigerians henceforth would manage the top managers of NNSL; transfer to Liverpool to understudy the expatriates at Liverpool office of Nigerline UK; training at Liverpool; popularity in European shipyards; why Mv King Jaja was a notorious ship; his activities drydocking all ships and working with all shipyards; the reasons why old ships were bought for NNSL; the process of acquiring the 19 ships; promotion as the head of the new buildings and training of relevant new manpower; the politics of the training programme which defeated national interest; the use of Black Star Line staff; his arbitrary retirement along with others by the Buhari junta in 1984; the sinking of the Mv River Gurara; the investigative panel from the Federal Ministry of Transport and his interaction with them; the reasons why they retired him; retirement without right of appeal; the politics and petitions of working with the Ministry of Transport, the Board and management of NNSL; the probe of his bank account in Liverpool; the process of disengaging all the top officers of NNSL; how visiting NNSL officials made demands on the company’s suppliers, chandlers and agents to be defrayed by company finances; the details of charges against him and Mr. Oladitan, the General Manager; interferences of the FMOT in the running of the shipping line; the problem of the shipyard construction of container spaces at 8ft instead of 8ft 8 inches; the award given him after 26 years of retirement; the completion of the Nigerianization programme; comparison of how the company fared under Nigerians versus expatriates; the underhand activities of his predecessor, Engr. Ogundipe, for which he was sacked; the repair of NNSL ships; the in-house politics and perceived corruption which led to the closure of the Nigerline UK office by Alhaji Wushishi, the Minister of State; taking delivery of the 19 ships, the preparations, etc; the problems of running the new ships and NNSL’s fleet; no reason to have liquidated the NNSL; the problem of ships overstaying in the port with visitors feeding on the ships’ stores; the special feasts made for visiting Ministry of Transport officials; the role of overseas agents in the corruptive practices; the salary differences between the sea staff and the shore staff; how Alhaji Mamman Makele, Minister of Steel, denied NNSL cargoes because of the issue of kickback.