By Ademola Sobowale
Out of the blues, the acquisition of a mortgage-financed property in London by Mr Mohammed Bello Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) is in the news again for the umpteenth time, and no doubt, it smacks of mischief and knavery. One wonders why the author of the story decided to pick on Koko at this time for a re-launch of a failed vitriolic attack on his person.
Since we are already in the period of politicking, the reason may not be far-fetched. It is perhaps due to his refusal to pander to the whims and caprices of some political juggernauts in the titanic struggle for power ahead of the 2023 polls. The property in question from my findings was acquired far back as 2014 and having read this story time and again, the latest is nothing but a recycled and resurrected story by muckrakers and smearers.
To me, regenerating and reviving a stale story published several times over and over again by an online news media is no doubt, a disservice to the noble profession of journalism and an unnecessary shaft or attack on the person of Koko, a banker of repute, who rose to the position Regional Manager of Zenith Bank.
The question is: Why should Koko be so traduced in a particular medium? Could it be because his insistence on prudent management of public revenues evident in the cost-cutting measures he initiated since his appointment first as acting and subsequently as substantive Managing Director is discomforting to some power brokers?
As a free-born Nigerian, Koko qualifiedly secured a mortgage loan to buy the property in London just like other Nigerians who can afford it have done and this is verifiable. So what offence has he committed? But just because Amaechi who nominated him as the MD of NPA has declared to run for president, Koko and others officially connected to him must be vilified and smeared!
For all I know about this gentleman with a successful banking career, the same property was declared to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) before Koko was appointed into public office. From personal inquiry, the mortgage loan was signed in June 2015 and it is for 15 years tenor.
Koko had in 2014 moved his family out of the country for security considerations after they faced a life-threatening attack in Port Harcourt, Rivers State during the 2015 polls. They had moved in before they discovered that the property was not large enough for a family of seven and few months after, Koko, it was learnt found a house suitable for a large family, the size of his family and approached a bank for a mortgage loan to purchase it which will be paid back till 2029 when the tenor will end.
I think those who are deeply troubled and unsettled about Amaechi’s political aspiration should look elsewhere for their pound of flesh and not take the heat on the likes of Koko who has not breached any known law so far since he assumed office as the NPA boss or as Executive Director.
To say the least, it is infantile, reckless and a height of desperation to get back at Koko; I also submit that it is sheer muckraking by some journalists who must have been paid by wholesalers of tainted and slanted information and disinformation.
This over-flogged issue of Koko’s mortgage-financed property cannot qualify to be news because it does not meet the qualifying element of newness. It can only pass for a re- use, a rehash, worn-out and resurrected story with no new angle or development.
I urge Koko not be distracted in his commitment and focus in his current assignment at NPA with the ongoing transformation, re-engineering and repositioning of the maritime agency for greater transparency and operational efficiency.
Mr. Sobowale, a maritime expert writes from Lagos