“A cleaner is as important as a managing director because all our individual efforts put together are for the betterment of the organization,” Mr. Fabian Niulai, the outgoing New Guinea Islands (NGI East) Area Manager of the National Forest Service (NFS) said this when farewelled on June 19th, 2020.
At a handover-takeover ceremony at Kerevat in East New Britain province, Mr. Niulai handed over keys of the office and the 10-seater vehicle he was using, to his successor Mr. Wan Ruin.
Mr. Niulai, from Watom Island in East New Britain retired on medical grounds after serving the NFS for the last 22 years, three and a half years of which as the Acting Area Manager NGI East.
Talking about the NGI East staff, Mr. Niulai said: “They are very competent and professional.” He urged them to respect each other. “Respect one another and the role that each of you plays. I always raise this in our meetings that the work of a cleaner is as important as that of the managing director because all are working towards achieving the aims and objectives of the organization.”
He also called on the NFS Management to address the welfare of immediate families of staff also, instead of staff only, in order for staff performances to improve.
“While working, my family was number one instead of my work because if my house is not in order, it would have affected my performance in the office. I, therefore, urge PNGFA to look at addressing the welfare of families instead of the staff only. You can say that staff should take care of their own families, but there are instances where an officer cannot and will need PNGFA’s assistance so situations should be assessed case by case,” Mr. Niulai said.
He said that two years ago, he had told his wife that he wanted to retire, but they told him to remain. When his contract was expiring, he told his wife that he would accept whatever decision was made for him, so when he was given his letter last month for his retirement on medical grounds, he said that the same day, he contacted headquarters and thanked MD and asked them to fast track his final entitlements, hence, the handover-take over ceremony.
Mr. Niulai added that like he did at headquarters, where he gave opportunities for younger officers to travel, including overseas, as they were the future of PNGFA, he also groomed Mr. Ruin, recommending him to attend workshops, meetings etc. therefore, he had confidence in him (Mr. Ruin) carrying on where he left.
He agreed that the future of forestry is in plantation establishment and urged the PNGFA to seriously implement this.
Mr. Niulai ended by urging everyone to look to God for their all. He said that God was with him in his 16 years with SBLC in West New Britain, and brought him to Port Moresby and then to East New Britain. He said that we are who we are because of God and we should never forget that.
Mr. Niulai joined the PNGFA in January 1998 as a Timber Authority Officer and worked his way up to Manager Allocations in January 2016. He was based at the NFS headquarters in Port Moresby. In November 2016, he was appointed the Acting Area Manager NGI, at the Kerevat office.
NFS Managing Director Mr. Tunou Sabuin said that Mr. Niulai joined with vast experience having worked with the Stettin Bay Lumber Company (SBLC) in West New Britain province for 16 years prior. SBLC was then owned and operated by the Japanese and the leader in business and logging in the country. It was also a pioneer in implementing PNG’s Logging Code of Practice.
Working in the private sector which is always time conscious and profit-oriented, and especially under the Japanese, shaped him to be very competent, Mr. Sabuin said.
The managing director was pleased when told of Mr. Niulai handing in his office and car keys, and said: “Since his employment with the NFS, he has not damaged any of the organization’s assets. He is very honest, intelligent, industrious, committed, and a very good team player who is very innovative and used his initiative to complete tasks.” Mr. Sabuin wished him well in his retirement.
Acting Director Field Services Mr. Andrew Aopo, who led a team from Port Moresby to ENB for the occasion, said: We thank you that you are retiring while still strong. Many would come back to us disputing and wanting to continue working because they are strong, but not you.
Mr. Aopo also thanked Mrs. Niulai for the support she gave her husband throughout his career.
Mr. Michael Paisparea, a member of the ENB Provincial Forest Management Committee (PFMC), which Mr. Niulai used to advise as the Acting Area Manager, said: “Foresters are very important like nurses and teachers as currently, they are amongst a very few public servants representing the government at very remote project sites.
“Fabian used his vast experience to cool down landowners so they were satisfied and hardly fronted up at the area office causing problems.
“Fabian understood the value of his staff and boosted their morale by trying to address their welfare issues. He understood that if their welfare was taken care off, they would be happy and perform well in the office.
“He provided technical advice which assisted greatly the PFMC,” Mr. Paisparea said.
NFS Acting Human Resource Manager Manda Wia described Mr. Niulai as: someone leaving behind a legacy for the other NFS staff to follow.
Julie Samuel who has served the NFS for the last 28 years and worked under a number of area managers, described Mr. Niulai as: “Very patient, and one who doesn’t hold a grudge to the next day.
His successor Mr. Ruin thanked him for his service to the Area Office and the PNGFA as a whole.
Gifts were presented to Mr. Niulai and his wife, and food shared to mark the occasion.
The NFS is the implementing or operational arm of the PNGFA.