After the 7-year era of Hon. Rotimi Amaechi came to an end with his resignation to contest Presidential Primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC), few would have anticipated sweeping changes at the Transport Ministry which had Senator Gbemisola Saraki deputizing as Minister of State for over three years.
However, a former Lagos Area Manager, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Engr. Mu’azu Sambo has been appointed the substantive Minister of Transportation as President Muhammadu Buhari readjusted his cabinet to make up for the recent resignations.
Until his appointment yesterday, Sambo was the Minister of State, Works and Housing. He was also regarded as an achiever and a proactive leader during his time at NIWA which should give him an advantage with supervisory role at NIWA.
The 62-year old refined Taraba administrator graduated with honours from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in June, 1982 and served in the NYSC Scheme in Oyo State from 1982 to 1983.
His work experience began at the Civil Engineering Department of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Headquarters, Lagos and by 1987 had risen to Senior Civil Engineer.
Sambo moved over to the Banking sub sector and worked at Savannah Bank (Bank of America) from 1987 to 1990 and Allied Bank (Bank of India) from 1990 to 1996, rising to Assistant General Manager(Administration). There was also a 5-year sojourn in the Insurance sub sector, at Nicon Insurance from 1997 to 2002 before veering into Project Management consultancy as Principal Partner at MJ Sambo & Partners.
Amid encomiums for the new Transportation Minister, there are also some reservations by industry stakeholders who believe that the move is a setback for the transport sector, especially with the former Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki also moving to another ministry.
Speaking with the News Diet on this development, a seaport terminal operator who preferred anonymity said, “We have a situation where Gbemisola Saraki has been deputizing Rotimi Amaechi for three years and she has closely followed the developments in the sector. It would have been a more rewarding decision for the industry to have elevated Saraki to the main Minister of Transportation and brought someone else to be Minister of State for Transportation”
Noting that barely two weeks ago Saraki engaged the critical transport stakeholders in Lagos and deliberated keenly on several pertinent issues, the operator wondered if any results would stem from the week-long exercise.
“Will all those findings, recommendations and action plans go down the drain? Wouldn’t the new man (Sambo) require some months to acclimatize in the new role?”
According to the terminal operator, it is also important to note that the newly appointed Minister has barely nine months to function before the end of the present administration, hence, losing four to five months to enable Sambo bed-in will be a disservice to the sector.
Meanwhile, the new Minister of Transportation has received encomiums from industry stakeholders including; the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh; Chairman, Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni; National President of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Otunba Frank Ogunojemite; among others.
NIMASA boss congratulated Alhaji Mu’azu Jaji Sambo on his appointment as Minister of Transportation via twitter yesterday, stating that the agency looks forward to benefiting from the former NIWA Lagos Area Manager’s wealth of experience.
“Here is congratulating our new Honourable Minister for Transportation, Alhaji Mu’azu Jaji Sambo on his posting. Sir, we welcome you and we at #NIMASA look forward to the benefit of your leadership experience to steer the maritime sector in a progressive direction for our nation,” Dr. Jamoh said.
While commending the new Transportation Minister, the APFFLON National President, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite observed that Sambo has little or no time for festivities with numerous transport issues in need of timely intervention.
Ogunojemite encouraged Mu’azu Sambo to quickly study some of the activities and recommendations of his predecessors at the Ministry, especially submissions drawn from robust engagements with industry stakeholders.
Speaking to News Diet, Ogunojemite said; “I join the maritime industry stakeholders and the entire transport sector in welcoming our new Transportation Minister, Alhaji Mu’azu Sambo. He isn’t entire new to this sector especially in the maritime and ports sub-sector because has served meritoriously at NPA and NIWA. This is time to work and he would have to work twice as hard as the previous Minister and with limited time to be able to write his name in the sands of time in Nigeria’s transport sector.”
“There are numerous concerns at the seaports, railway, inland waterways, shipping, seafaring, freight forwarding, among others. We are looking up to him with high expectations as someone who has already delivered commendably in his previous roles in the transport sector.”
On his part, the CRFFN Governing Board Chairman, Abubakar Tsanni said, “With Sambo as Minister, we clearly see hope and progress coming to the Ministry of Transportation. At CRFFN, therefore, we congratulate and welcome you to your new office. The Council is ever ready to work hand in hand with you for the success of this administration towards the attainment of the Development Agenda for the maritime industry and the entire transport sector. I pray that God continues giving you the wisdom and guidance to keep on with with your well-known and well-cherished habit of giving your best to the nation and humanity.”
Also speaking a maritime expert and author of the book; “ABC of Shipping and Ports Operation in Nigeria,” Mr. Charles Okorefe described Mu’azu Sambo’s appointment as Minister of Transportation as strategically placing a round peg in a round hole.
Okorefe, who has over 25 years practical and academic experience in the sector, observed that such strategic appointment is crucial to the growth of the nation’s transport sector and, by extension, the economy.
In 2005, he joined the Engineering Department of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), as Assistant General Manager, and rose to General Manager in 2017.
He also served in Lokoja prior to posting to Port Harcourt as Area Manager and subsequently to Lagos in 2013, where he served as General Manager, Lagos zone of the Authority. He was subsequently recalled from retirement and made Minister of State for Works and Housing, where he held forth until today.
He has passion for water transportation as an alternative mode, with keen interest in safety standards and compliance.
Sambo’s extracurricular activities include; participating in community development projects, aerobics and reading. He is married with children. He is a recipient of the famous Nigeria Transport Personality Award, which is held annually alongside the Nigeria Annual Transport Lecture
Young Sambo attended Muhammadu Nya Primary School Jalingo and Federal Government College, Maiduguri where he obtained WASCE Grade One Distinction.
Sambo studied Building from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and graduated with Second Class Upper Division.
He is a Corporate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Member Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Institute of Management.
Mu’azu Jaji Sambo was appointed a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the President, Commander -In- Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR on December 24, 2021 He was assigned the responsibility of Minister of State in Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
Sambo had worked as a Senior Civil Engineer with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Senior Manager (Banking Operations/Credit), Savannah Bank of Nigeria Plc, Assistant General Manager (Administration) Allied Bank of Nigeria Plc, Senior Manager (Administration) NICON Insurance Corporation and General Manager Lagos Zone, NIWA, where he meritoriously retired from the public service in 2019.
Sambo’s political trajectory saw him as a Foundation Member of the All Peoples Party (APP) in Taraba State where he aspired for the Taraba State Governorship seat under the Party in 1999.
In the 2003 Presidential election, Sambo was the Taraba State Collation Centre Agent of the Presidential Candidate of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Rtd.
Sambo’s working experience in various organizations over the years earned him many awards and commendations in recognition of his meritorious services, amongst which were: NIWA Best Area Office Award in Lagos for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019 as well as for his special contribution in the initiation and construction of the new Area Office in Lagos and Best Area Manager Award for Revenue Generation and Collection at the Port Harcourt Area Office of the NIWA.
He also received commendation during his working days at NICON Insurance Corporate Office in Abuja for the successful completion of the construction of the NICON Headquarters Building in Abuja.
Allied Bank of Nigeria PLC Lagos also conferred on him the MD/CEO’s Award for Outstanding Performance on his professional touch in the completion of the construction of their headquarters building in Lagos.
The Awards and recognitions did not end there. Sambo also received a special award and commendation for successfully pioneering and completing the First Direct Labour Project at the NPA, Lagos, for the construction of the NPA Clinic in Apapa, Lagos.
In addition to the aforementioned, Sambo also received in 2019, the Fellowship Award of the Institute of Oil and Gas Research and Hydrocarbon Studies for Outstanding Performance as General Manager, Lagos Zone of the NIWA.