By Daniel Kajo
After 22 years of meritorious service to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Hajia Lami Tumaka took a bow out of the Agency, yesterday, upon attainment of the mandatory retirement age of 60.
A career that started in 1998 when Hajia Tumaka joined the services of the then National Maritime Authority, NMA, as Chief Research Officer and saw her rise to the rank of Director has been characterised by several awards and accolades from within and outside especially in the field of Public Relations which has defined most of her stay in the Agency.
She has had to head the Public Relations Unit of the Agency at three different times. Two of those times, she was called upon to remedy crises that threatened to erode the confidence of stakeholders in NIMASA, the apex maritime regulatory Agency in the country.
Mindful of the critical role of NIMASA in the nation’s economy, Hajia Tumaka is always strategic in her approach and methodical in the execution of her responsibilities by constantly engaging her immediate constituency – the media and the larger maritime community.
As a thorough-bred Public Relations professional, Hajia Tumaka believes that inadequate or lack of information gives room for speculation that could fuel fake news and outright falsehood.
Accordingly, she maintained an open-door policy where every journalist had unfettered access to her to be able to verify information. Even her critics will agree that Hajia, as she is fondly called was always available to comment on any issue concerning the Agency whenever there was a reason to do so.
One of Hajia Tumaka’s ‘magic wands’ was to always keep tabs on developments in the lives of media personnel covering the maritime beat. By so doing, she hardly forgot to visit or at least identify with anyone that was ill. She would always remember to send a message of felicitation in case of a new birth in the family of a journalist, their birthdays and other milestones. This endeared her to a lot of journalists to the advantage of the Agency.
During one of her sojourns in the Public Relations Unit, Hajia identified the lack of a proper communications structure in the Agency where sometimes Top Management staff spoke directly to the media often in discordant tunes. She thus developed a Communication Policy which ensured that the Director-General and the Head of Public Relations Units were the official spokespersons of the Agency. In cases where other top management staff were delegated to perform this role especially while representing the Agency in various fora, they were guided by provisions of this policy.
The Communications Policy, along with other internal policies of the Agency have been documented into a single document by the administration of Dr Dakuku Peterside for ease of reference and has greatly minimised misinformation in the Agency.
Hajia Tumaka has received several awards and recognition for her professionalism in the practice of Public Relations. She is a recipient of the Maritime Media Woman of the Year 2011 and 2012. She was also voted the Best Maritime Industry Public Relations Officer 2011 through a poll, among several other honours.
In April 2016, EvanCarmichael.com, a popular website founded by Evan Carmichael, a Toronto-based entrepreneur named Hajia Tumaka amongst the top 100 global Public Relations Practitioners for mentees to follow. EvanCarmichael.com is a Toronto-based entrepreneur and an international speaker dedicated to helping others succeed by monitoring their progress and influence in their professional and entrepreneurial careers.
Amongst her colleagues, Hajia Tumaka is a champion of interpersonal skills. Her relationship with colleagues was almost excellent with her office serving as a mecca of some sort for her colleagues. It is commonplace for staff to approach Hajia for counselling and even support especially when there were issues to be resolved at the official level. She would always listen carefully and assure you of her efforts to try and resolve the matter. Most times she was successful but like all things human, she was unsuccessful in a few cases.
In spite of Hajia Tumaka’s professionalism, she is a deeply compassionate and humane administrator. Many who come across her always have positive things to remember her for. She could bend over backwards to assist provided she believes in the course. Little wonder she seems to be the doyen of maritime stakeholders for her calm mien, problem-solving attitude, positive mental disposition and friendly nature.
Born on January 14, 1960, Hajia Lami Tumaka had her primary education at the St. George’s Primary School Ikoyi, Lagos State. Her secondary education was done at Fatima Secondary School and Government Girls Secondary School both in Minna. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1979. She returned to her alma mater in 2000 where she earned a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Hajia Tumaka also holds a Certificate in Basic Film Production with Distinction from the TV College Jos (1986) and a Diploma in Public Relations from the Holborn College London (1993).
She started her working career at the Army Day Secondary Jaji upon completion of the mandatory National Youth Service Corps. She later joined the services of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in 1986. Before joining the employ of the NMA, she was the Public Relations Manager of Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) Limited.
Hajia Tumaka is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration Nigeria (CIOTA), Member Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), Member Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria amongst others.
As she retires from NIMASA today, Hajia Tumaka will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues in the maritime industry. But as the saying goes, whatever has a beginning must surely have an end. The end of her public service career in NIMASA can only mean the beginning of another chapter in her life because clearly, Hajia Tumaka may have retired, but she is certainly not tired. This is wishing Hajia Lami Tumaka 60 hearty cheers and the very best wishes in her future endeavours.