Believe it or not, the way and manner the organisers of the recently held Jamoh’s Reception Party went about it and the approach they adopted in executing the event calls for concern for discerning maritime stakeholders, especially for Jamoh’s true well-wishers who really want to see him succeed in his new position.
If like me you are one of the proponents of appointing maritime technocrats like Dr Bashir Jamoh as heads of maritime agencies, you will be particularly interested in seeing Jamoh succeed because his success is the success of all in the sector, whereas his failure will not only spell doom for all, but also serve as a bad reference point for proponents of maritime technocrats as heads of government agencies in the sector.
A cursory look at the occasion reveals some salient issues calling for concern by discerning minds in the industry: First is the timing – Dr Bashir Jamoh took over from Dr Dakuku Peterside as DG NIMASA on Wednesday, 10th of March 2020, by the following Wednesday (barely a week), you are already holding a reception party for him even before his board was to be inaugurated in Abuja on Friday, 20th of March by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. That hasty approach to the event reveals some desperation and uneasiness. Jamoh should watch it!
Second, is the Style – reception party sounds frivolous. A stakeholders meeting with Jamoh would have been more appealing and appropriate considering that a particular ship owner in his recent press interview just described the outgone NIMASA DG, Dr Peterside, a ‘Nollywood DG’. So, welcoming the new DG with a reception party sounds more like another frivolous beginning for a supposedly technocrat like Jamoh who should know better. It looks like setting a bad precedent.
Third, is the approach: Inviting a select few to an occasion you tagged maritime industry reception party for Jamoh may be counter productive for Jamoh in this his early days as DG NIMASA. If truly it’s a Maritime Industry Reception as the organisers claimed, the door should be opened to all industry stakeholders to meet and receive Jamoh, and tell him their minds and their expectations.
Inviting a select few persons and denying many others the invitation looks like ‘a divide and rule approach’. It’s like making more enemies than friends for Jamoh. There are some relevant professional groups and individuals who were not invited. Believe it or not, they will feel sidelined and may hold it against Jamoh, not even the organisers.
I spoke with one dignitary after the occasion, he told me that the occasion was meant for key stakeholders and people that matter in the sector. He asked me if I saw Freight Forwarders or Customs Agents there? Such a mindset about other stakeholders is more divisive than uniting. And mind you, Jamoh is a public office holder. And as DG NIMASA, he is for everyone and not for anyone.
And forth, is the anonymous identity adopted by the organisers of the reception. It is conventional that the identity of organisers of public events should be made public for security reasons. When the organisers released a graphic of the invitation card and failed to reveal their identity, I became more worried by their faceless identity for several obvious reasons.
If you are generous enough to organise a reception party for DG NIMASA, you should be proud enough to reveal your identity except if you have a skeleton in your cupboard. Dr Bashir Jamoh is not just anybody, he is a public office holder, he is the DG NIMASA. What if anything untoward happens at the occasion? Who do you hold responsible? So hiding under the veil of anonymity to host the event is not only suspicious but a security concern too.
But besides these obvious fears, worries and suspicions by discerning maritime stakeholders about the said reception party, what every true well-wisher of Jamoh should be more concerned about especially in this context is why Robert Greene in his book, ’48 Laws of Power’ advised power players to “Despise The Free Lunch”.
The reason is not far fetched. The ancient story of “The Flame-Coloured Cloak”, explains it all. Now listen to this:
During the campaign of Cambyses in Egypt, a great many Greeks visited that country for one reason or another: some as was to be expected, for trade, some to serve in the army, others, no doubt, out of mere curiosity to see what they could see.
Among the sightseers was Aeaces’ son, Syloson, the exiled brother of Polycrates of Samos. While he was in Egypt, Syloson had an extra ordinary stroke of luck: he was hanging about the streets of Memphis dressed in a flame – colored cloak, when Darius, who at that time was a member of Cambyses’s guard and not yet of any particular importance, happened to catch sight of him, and seized with a sudden longing to possess the cloak, came up to Syloson and made him an offer for it.
His extreme anxiety to get it was obvious enough to Syloson, who was inspired to say: “I am not selling this for any money, but if you must have it, I will give it to you for free”. Darius thereupon thanked him warmly and took it.
Syloson at the moment merely thought he had lost it by his foolish good nature, then came the death of Cambyses and the revolt of the seven against the Magus, and Darius ascended the throne.
Syloson now had the news that the man whose request for the flame-coloured cloak he had formerly gratified in Egypt had become king of Persia. He hurried to Susa, sat down at the entrance of the royal palace, and claimed to be included in the official list of the king’s benefactors.
The sentry on guard reported his claim to Darius, who asked in surprise who the man might be. “For surely”, he said, “as I have so recently come to throne, there cannot be any Greek to whom I am indebted for service. Hardly any of them have been here yet, and I certainly cannot remember owing anything to a Greek. But bring him in all the same, that I may know what he means by his claim”.
The guard escorted Syloson into the royal presence, and when the interpreters asked him who he was, and what he had done to justify the statement that he was the king’s benefactor, he reminded Darius of the story of the cloak, and said that he was the man who had given it to him.
“Sir”, exclaimed Darius, “you are the most generous of men, for while I was still a person of no power or consequence, you gave me a present – small indeed, but deserving then as much gratitude from me as would the most splendid of gifts today. I will give you in return, more silver and gold in return that you can count, that you may never regret that you once did a favour to Darius the son of Hystaspes”.
“My lord”, replied Syloson, “do not give me gold or silver, but recover Samos for me, my native island, which now since Oroetes killed my brother Polycrates is in the hands of one of our servants. Let Samos be your gift to me – but let no man in the island be killed or enslaved”.
Darius consented to Syloson’s request, and dispatched a force under the command of Otanes, one of the seven, with orders to do everything that Syloson had asked. – culled from “The Histories, Herodotus”, 5th Century B.C.
The lesson in this story was aptly captured in the summary note of Robert Greene on that law 40 – ‘Despise the Free Lunch, where he wrote, “What is offered for free is dangerous – it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. By paying your own way, you stay clear of gratitude, guilt and deceit. It is also often wise to pay the full price – there is no cutting corners with excellence”.
As we can see in the above story between Syloson and Darius, the danger of free gifts is that the givers can easily claim to be your benefactors, and they usually want you to pay them back in their own ways and terms not in your own way and terms. And sometimes, following their dictates could be inconveniencing or even disastrous for you, but because you already feel obligated to them, you cannot but grant their requests.
When Darius wanted to repay Syloson in his (Darius) way by offering him plenty silver and gold, Syloson refused, but asked that he (Darius) recover the island of Samos for him and that no one should be killed or enslaved in the process. Now if you want to know what happened to the men Darius dispatched to do job for Syloson as they tried to follow Syloson’s terms, then, read the 5th centuries “Histories, Herodotus”.
Although, Jamoh’s Reception Party may have come and gone, but Jamoh and his true well-wishers will remain concerned about the benefactors and their terms of pay-back because all that glitters is not gold.
In part 3 of this report: Who were the hidden sponsors of Jamoh’s Reception Party? How much was expended on the occasion and how was the money raised? Is it true that NIMASA did not contribute a dime towards hosting of the reception as we were made to believe? Find out in Part 3 of this report, coming out soon!