It was known as the Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (IOTA). It became chartered in 2019 and its name became the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIOTA). Its present leadership is on its way out, but the transition process is becoming difficult with the announcement of a suspension of the exercise. CHINYERE OKOROAFOR reports
On October 1 when Nigerians were celebrating their country’s 62nd Independence Day, the leaders of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIOTA) were busy meeting over a crisis threatening the existence of the institution. The body, which was incorporated in Nigeria in September 1986 under the Land Perpetual Succession Act Cap 98, became chartered in 2019 and reflected the change in its name. The institute has a Council and a National Executive Committee (NEC).
The tenure of its NEC led by Dr Bashir Jamoh, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), is running out. The Council of the Institute, which is empowered to handle the election of the NEC members, constituted an electoral panel to handle the transition process. Prof Innocent Ogwude was made its head.
The panel called for nomination. A two-week window was allowed for this. It also gave a week window for those with complaints. A four-week campaign period was allowed. Campaigns were meant to commence on September 30. The election was scheduled for October 29 and the result was to be out on October 30. The swearing-in will be at the AGM in November. The panel said it deliberately fixed everything within two months in order to conclude election matters before the Annual General Meeting (AGM) when the handing-over ceremony will take place.
Members responded to the call for nomination. Aspirants were screened and after the screening, it came out with a list of 16 successful candidates. Prince Segun Obayendo was cleared unopposed for President; while Aminu Muktar was cleared unopposed for National Auditor. Two candidates, Umar Iya and Emeka Ogwara, were cleared for the office of Deputy President. Two candidates, Chinda Ogbuji and Philip Okorokwo, were cleared to run for the office of National Secretary. Others were cleared to run as Assistant National Secretary, National Provost, National Financial Secretary and so on. Of all the available positions, only the offices of President and National Auditor had sole contender.
The October 1st meeting has thrown spanner in the works. Since some members of the outgoing NEC are also running for offices, its suspension of the exercise is seen as suspect, especially when it is the Council and not the NEC that is empowered to handle the transition process. According to a statement endorsed by Jamoh after the October 1 meeting restarting the process, NEC gave its side of the crisis. It said: “In compliance and fulfilling this mandate, the Electoral Committee on 31st August, 2022, officially kick-started their activities by publishing the Election Time Table, Guidelines and Eligibility Criteria. The published guidelines drew uproars and generated negative reactions from well-meaning and concerned members of the Institute. Some grey areas spotted therein are omission of some key elective positions like National Auditor, National Provost and Assistant National Secretary, imposition of mandatory payment for the purchase of the nomination forms by interested contestants without a formal approval, one week duration for the purchase and submission of nomination forms, instead of five (5) weeks to the election as stipulated in paragraph 8(c) of First Schedule of CIOTA Act 2019 and non-full disclosure of constitutional provisions on eligibility criteria to appropriately guide interested aspirants and prospective voters, especially as stipulated in paragraph 9(a-c) of First Schedule.”
The NEC went on: “The National Executive Committee on noticing these complaints and cries from members, and in order to ensure that due process are followed and the that no aspirants were treated unjustly; swiftly moved to assuage the confidence of members by convening a joint meeting between the NEC and Electoral Committee. The meeting was held on Saturday 10th September, 2022 and chaired by the Deputy President at the instance of the President/Chairman of Council. After extensive deliberations, the meeting saw reasons with the cries and complaints of the members, especially as some of the published guidelines contravenes and in total disregards to the provisions of the establishment Act and the Constitution of the Institute on election matters.
“On the purchase and submission of Nomination Forms, Barr Osuala Nwagbara emphasised that in accordance with the provisions of the enabling Act, submission of nominations forms would elapse 5weeks prior to the election instead of 31st August 2022 as earlier published by the electoral panel. Consequent to the foregoing, the meeting resolved as follows: (a). That the nomination fee be reduced to N50,000 for Presidential nominations and N20,000 for other category of nominations as against the sum of N100,000; N75,000 and N50,000 earlier published; (b). That all vacant elective positions should be included and re-advertised in accordance with Section 5(2) (a-f) of the establishment Act, and Article 19 and 22 of the Constitution.
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“(c). That the provisions of Paragraph 9(a-c) of First Schedule and Section 6(1) of the enabling Act on the eligibility criteria for the election of the President, Deputy President and other elective positions be strictly adhered and complied to accordingly; (d). That submission of Nomination Forms is open to five (5) weeks to the General Meeting for election (i.e. September, 24th 2022) in compliance to the provisions of paragraph 8(c) of First Schedule of the enabling Act, 2019.”
The statement added that the NEC was surprised to observe that the revised time-table and guidelines published by the Secretary of the Electoral Committee on September 10, 2022, only allocated additional seven days duration for the submission of nomination forms. “On Sunday, the 25th of September, 2022, the Electoral Committee published the names of the candidates they selected for the election. This was cheering news to NEC until members started petitioning the EXCO on perceived gross anomalies and breach of extant rules on including threats from certain quarters. The above situation compelled the National Executive Committee to convene an emergency meeting on Thursday, 29th September, 2022 to deliberate on the perceived gross anomalies and constitutional breach as alleged by some members. On the foregoing, the two senior staff of the Secretariat were equally invited by the NEC to know their involvement in the election process and why the electoral panel undermined the Council’s authority by going public with its decisions (twice) without recourse to the established Extant Laws of the Institute as enshrined in paragraph 6, subparagraph 3 of First Schedule of the CIOTA establishment Act 2019.
“In a swift response, the Registrar stated that he was called upon by the Electoral Committee to furnish them with the information on the aspirants with a directive that it should be treated confidentially. The Registrar further stated that he attended to the request, and as well dispatched his findings to the Committee accordingly. On the same vein, the Admin manager when asked responded that he was not aware of any such request regarding the aspirants’ status. On further enquiry why the Registrar did not consult the President/National Executive Committee for further information before reverting to the electoral committee; he maintained that there was an instruction from the Electoral Committee that it should be treated confidentially.
“Not satisfied with the above seeming usurpation of powers / gross violation of the provisions of paragraph 6, sub-paragraph 3 of the First Schedule of the enabling Act (with special notice on the powers of the Committee), the National Executive Committee through the President /Chairman of Council expressed shock over the brazen negligence of the Electoral Eligibility Status as enshrined in Paragraph 9(a-c) of First Schedule, and condemned the inability or refusal of the Electoral Ad-hoc Committee to screen aspirants who have applied for their respective positions of interest pursuant to item No. 2 of the published electoral time table,” the statement said.
The stage was thus set for a fresh exercise. Now all aspirants are mandated to sign undertaking barring them from filing any litigation against the Institute on the outcome of the election. “All grievances should be addressed to the Institute Disciplinary Committee,” the new directive stated. They are to also sign another undertaking to accept the outcome of the elections irrespective of who wins or losses. They are to equally sign to adhere to the provisions of the establishment Act and the Constitution of the Institute. Any contestant against these directives will be disqualified.
But, there is more the NEC glossed over. A source gave another perspective on the issues: “Shamsudeen Dosunmu, a former NIMASA DG, was made to join the race for the President. The panel screened him out and called for one week of complaints period; they didn’t complain, rather they got the NEC to suspend the election in order to restart the process. The electoral panel screened Dosunmu out because in December last year he was given fellowship but he did not honour it. So, the week they drafted him in to contest he just paid for the acceptance of the fellow. No induction ceremony, no certificates and there is no evidence of having membership number. He was brought into CIOTA election through the back door and the cabal are desirous of installing a non-member as President. Equally, the members of the current NEC that are contesting are five out of nine and they are the ones making decision to suspend the election. There is a difference between NEC and Council. It is the Council that set up the Electoral panel not the National Executive Committee. So, it is curious that NEC can just suspend election without recourse to Council. And why did they fail to explore the window of complaints period?”
For now, it remains to be seen how the new process will go and whether or not it can address all concerns in a manner that will not upset the peace in the Institute. What is, however, clear is that all is not well with the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria.