Jime: Innovating service-delivery at NEPZA

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Time really flies. It is about 10 months since Rt. Hon. took office as the 7th Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (). And it has been 10 months of action, innovation, eventfulness, and unusual promise. In Nigeria, where public service is essentially about private service, the Jime example speaks volumes.
Ten months may be too brief to make a comprehensive review of a four-year tenure, but Jime’s first steps can give Nigerians a peep into how his full tenure would look like. After all, the Chinese say “the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.”
So far, Jime’s sure-footedness at NEPZA is a pointer that the thousand-mile destination is possible. Although he is best described by such adjectives as “cosmopolitan,” “urbane,” “cultured,” “articulate,” and “principled,” the reality that confronted him at NEPZA was beyond adjectival distinctions – it was a challenge that required pragmatic, hands-on experience; and bordered on the urgent. But Jime had none!
A complete stranger to the executive side of governance, Jime’s handicap was compounded by the fact that, perhaps, like millions of other Nigerians, he knew next to nothing about NEPZA! The vibrant Jime was, nonetheless, decided on hitting the ground running. He did.
When he met with staff shortly upon assumption of office in May to outline his vision, sue for cooperation and sketch innovative, staff welfare schemes, he confessed as much. It was at this maiden meeting that he gave NEPZA two of his quotes that have today become staff favourites: “If there is welfare, there would be no warfare” and “If there is celebration in the house, there would be no solidarity songs.”
So, right from Day One, Jime took the initiative of connecting with staff – and even going beyond the bounds of propriety to give out his private cell-phone numbers and his e-mail addresses!
Since one of the unique things about his service in the public space is his dynamism, Jime has brought to NEPZA all that dynamism can offer in its broadest sense i.e. dynamic quality, dynamic energy, dynamic mission, dynamic vision and dynamic pace. This dynamic side of his public stewardship became practical on April 25, 2017, when he began the first leg of his tour of Free Trade Zones (FTZs) across the country just six days after taking office. A man with a mission or on a mission is a missionary; and every true missionary must walk the field and do field-work!
Being a politician, many thought the managing director would fancy the glamorous side of governance over and above the executive side. As such, there were pressures on him to meet the press and unveil his vision on assumption of office. But being more of a chief executive than a chartered politician, the NEPZA helmsman deferred meeting the Fourth Estate of the Realm to December 8, 2017! By then, it was not just to unveil his vision – it was to showcase to the pressmen something concrete. And there was, indeed, three FTZs, and FDI inflows of $2.8billion.
Today, the salutary outcomes of that back-to-school move are evident in the restructuring of the corporate governance structure, injection of life into the free zones while licencing new ones, the rebuilding of investor-confidence, introduction of innovative staff welfare schemes, cementing of inter-agency relationships as well as robust and sustained engagement with industry stakeholders on multi-levels.
It is the handsome hope of every NEPZA staff, and, indeed every industry stakeholder, that the new board would solidly stand by Jime and offer him the critically needed support in his repositioning, rebranding and re-invigorating agenda at NEPZA. And with Engr. Oni’s rich, composite and cosmopolitan experience as a public officer, teacher, unionist, journalist engineer, bureaucrat, technocrat, grassroots mobilizer, entrepreneur, sales specialist, international consultant, former governor and honorific chieftaincy title-holder, the Asiwaju of Ifaki-Ekiti, the hope appears well-invested!

Simon Imobo-Tswam,
2, Zambezi Crescent,
Maitama, Abuja

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