NPA: You are offside!, By Soji Apampa

The Basel Institute on Governance’s Outstanding Achievement in Anti-Corruption Collective Action, won by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network and Convention on Business Integrity being presented to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who is Chairman of the Ports Reforms Steering Committee.

The Basel Institute on Governance’s Outstanding Achievement in Anti-Corruption Collective Action, won by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network and Convention on Business Integrity being presented to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who is Chairman of the Ports Reforms Steering Committee.

By Soji Apampa

It is always very annoying when playing soccer if you have a team member that sits by the opponent’s goal-post just waiting for goal opportunities to be handed to him.

He doesn’t pull his weight but simply watches the team work hard to get the ball close to the goal-post and then jumps on it and tries to score.

He intends to reap where he did not sow and take the glory even where he did little or none of the work. This is apparently what made the Football Association come up with the offside rule in December 1863. According to, “The offside rule was introduced to discourage players from hanging at their opponent’s goal for goal opportunities.” Goals scored whilst offside are disallowed.

Where care is not taken by a player to ensure he is not offside, he wastes the effort of the team and squanders the excellent goal scoring opportunities handed to him. Players try to ensure they are not ahead of the ball in the opponent’s half, when actively involved in the game, and certainly not ahead of the last defender when the ball is being passed to them.

Besides it being World Cup season where the world is particularly attuned to soccer or football, as we non-Americans prefer to call the sport, why the lecture on the offside rule?

Team sports require Collective Action, and Collective Action requires teamwork. For Collective Action in the fight against maritime corruption in Nigeria, the teamwork has been between players from business, government and civil society, all working together towards a very clear goal – reduction in the levels of corruption in vessel and cargo clearing.

This goal has been scored in vessel clearance operations where demands for large, un-receipted cash payments peaked in 2019 at 266 incidents, then fell to 128 incidents in 2020, 84 in 2021 and now below 50 in 2022.

The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), consisting of over 180 stakeholders in the maritime sector (together representing transportation by sea of over 50% of global tonnage, and over 75% of all containerised goods), has been partnering with the government of Nigeria and various agencies at the ports, led by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (as team Captain) and civil society organisations like the Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) and the Nigeria Seafarers Welfare Board.

This collaboration has been ongoing since 2012, and finally in July 2022 the effort scored an important goal when it was recognised for Outstanding Achievement in Collective Action by the Basel Institute on Governance, Switzerland – the B20 Collective Action Hub.

The Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) had the opportunity to present the B20 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Collective Action to His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Monday 14th November.

At that meeting we raised the challenges facing the Ports Standing Task Team (PSTT) led by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council but with membership from the Nigerian Ports Authority, ICPC and DSS. Their activities have been a game changer in the sector since 2020. His Excellency the Vice President was surprised to learn that the PSTT was facing funding issues and expressed some surprise at this, given that NPA was part of the team.

We have had the opportunity to meet with the Managing Director of NPA, Mr Bello Koko months ago, where promises of support were made but nothing has come through between March and now.

There are hardworking Members of PSTT from NPA, such as Mrs Okeke and Mrs Terfa, but logistical and financial support for the ongoing Collective Action has been below expectation on the part of NPA. At our September event, an annual meeting of the Integrity Alliance of Stakeholders in the Maritime Sector, the late Otunba Folarin, a guru of Nigeria’s maritime sector, underscored the need for teamwork amongst government agencies in the sector.

It was surprising to read articles purported to be from NPA, coming on the back of our meeting with H.E. the Vice President, quoting the Chief Executive of CBi, Soji Apampa, as crediting solely the progress of the ports reforms to the efforts of the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Apart from being a gross misrepresentation of facts, the news articles appear to give credit to the NPA in an initiative where NPA is yet to pull its weight. This is like goal hanging, waiting for all other team members to do the work and then jumping in to try to score the goal. According to offside rules, this is not an allowable goal and does more damage to the collective efforts in the initiative.

The NPA should come to the table and put down the financial and logistical resources needed to improve activities in the Eastern and Western Ports and strengthen the work being done to remove all the illegal checkpoints in the port corridors.

This work is being captained by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and all stakeholders are ready to work with the NPA, since as the landlord of the ports it can enable the reforms to be more effective and impactful. We need the NPA to score, and score big by playing its role, but it should now call its publicists to order as they are scoring cheap goals at the expense of the entire team. NPA, you are offside!

The articles purported to be from the NPA referred to the Convention on Business Integrity (CBi), which represents the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) in Nigeria, as the “Civil Society partner of the NPA.” We would like to see the NPA more involved, and we would like to champion the involvement of the NPA globally as we report on activities of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. We encourage the NPA to engage the Collective Action more.

Soji Apampa is co-founder, The Integrity Organisation; email:

Source: Premium Times

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