By Godfrey Bivbere & Eguono Odjegba

The Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, weekend, officially ended his career at the agency after twenty two years of service; including eight years in the council’s topmost leadership position.  

Statesmen, captains of industries, corporate associates, friends, well wishers and stakeholders, including the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, and the Permanent Secretary of the Transportation Ministry, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, converged at the Eko Hotels and Suites to wish him well as he gave his valedictory speech.

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Amaechi said he is 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 helmsman described Bello like a son that has made him proud.

He stated: “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.”  

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, described Bello personality with integrity, industry and a man who proffered solutions to contain corruption at the ports.

Jamoh said, “The subject matter today is Hassan Bello, and what he has achieved for the past eight years as the Executive Secretary of the NSC. He is known for his doggedness in solving problems, in the aspect of trade expansion, national fleet issues and others and for every area, you can write a book on his contribution to the industry.”

In his brief presentation, Acting managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Mr. Mohammed Bello Koko, said Hassan Bello has always been a man of vision and foresight, strength and commitment, noting that his exemplary stewardship in the course of steering the affairs of the Shippers Council is a mere reflection of Hassan Bello’s attributes.

He stated: “Some of us who knew Hassan Bello beforehand and knew about his industry, commitment and the drive to excel weren’t expecting less when he got appointed to head the Nigerian Shippers Council.

“I can say most of us are happy he turned out to be what he has always been, and took the Council higher. He is a man of peace and we wish him well.”  

Immediate past National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent, ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, in his goodwill message, urged Mr. President and the Minister of Transportation not to allow Hassan Bello carry away his very rich knowledge about the maritime industry; describing Bello as a man of honour without a scandal attached to his name.

His words, “He has delivered, and if it was possible for me to expect magic from the honourable minister, we would just have requested that Hassan Bello be made the coordinator general of all maritime agencies.  

“The actions he took during Covid-19 pandemic, not many people will do that. The Registrar of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria is here, the National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent is also here, and they can attest to the commitment and diligence of Hassan Bello.  

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, Hassan Bello pulled strings through dialogue to keep the ports open and working. Nationalism, patriotism, leadership cannot be more than that. We don’t know what the appointing authorities want to do, but we know that we love Hassan Bello and want him around the industry, to be able to help the industry fulfill the obligations that are essential for this period of global economic changes.  

“l have not heard everything that Hassan Bello did, the important and ugly things are not hard to hear. But I know that Hassan Bello never had a scandal throughout his stewardship period. It is a credit, no scandal, either scandal of the pocket or scandal of the flesh, l can attest that l know him and that he is a fine gentleman.”

Chairman, NSC Board, Mr. Bashir Machina, said that Bello’s eight years tenure was years of non-stop action, always targeted at raising the bar. Machina who was represented by Otunba Seyi Oduntana, revealed that the naming of Shippers Council as ports economic regulator was due, largely, to the personality, foresight, industry, determination and courage of Hassan Bello.  

He said, “We are talking about Hassan Bello’s eight years tenure, he has actually been in Shippers Council for twenty two years with dodged focus in all his assigned duties. He came in as a lawyer and transformed into industry technocrat. The eight years we are celebrating is but the crowning glory, Hassan Bello couldn’t deserve less.

“His shipping development ideas are almost always unquestionable. That was why anytime he designed a strategy, the board practically keys in, because there is almost nothing to add. And his charisma and humility is so rare you find him very interesting and motivating to work with.”

Also giving her tribute, 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.

Her words, “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.

“Somebody asked me yesterday to describe Hassan Bello in one word, the word is integrity. He is a very honest and brilliant person, Bello leads by example and he challenges some of us. “Even when everyone was scared of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bello called us out, provided transportation and made sure that the ports were open, and that goods were coming in.

“Let me read what Dr. Welsman wrote, he said Public service is the highest good and when done honourably and well, is most rewarding. And l hope that by the time our celebrant is studied and understood, higher appointment will be waiting for him.”

SERVICOM Nodal Coordinator, Mrs. Nnenna Akajiemelu, in her tribute said Hassan Bello is worthy of celebration, going by his astounding stewardship credentials.

She stated: “We are here today to praise and celebrate our dear brother, Bello, and we are proud to associate with his milestone. We are celebrating long years of selfless service, mentorship, ownership and working to excel”, she added.

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