By By Elizabeth Chukwuma
At a time when Lawmakers in the various Committees of the National Assembly that had something to do with the Maritime sector appear unhappy with some of the agencies of the Federal ministry of Transportation under the close watch of Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state, that they had slashed their 2021 budgetary provision, the Nigerian Maritim Administration, may have escaped their anger.
The Nigerian Ports Authority , NPA, under the closewatch, of Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, for instance, was said to have had had its 2021 budget slashed by 25% by the Lawmakers forcing the agency to scale down on its operations and projects planned for execution for the year.
The Hajia Usman led NPA, , including the Ministry, Department and other agencies, budget that were said to have been slashed was attributed to the adverse effect of the Wuhan Town in Hebe Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19. Hajia Usman, the NPA boss who had confirmed that the Management had ordered the Port Managers to disengage from certain activities that that would eat into its budget said the Management had no option but to do so.
The House Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, chaired by by Lynda Ikpeazu, may have been exposed to the judicious budget implementation of the Maritime Regulatory agency under the close watch of Bashir Jamoh, during an oversight visit by the members recently. According to Ikpeazu, the visit was ostensibly’’to monitor the activities of the agency for the year 2020, and ‘’see how it has performed with the budgetary allocation approved for it’’. The agency may not have disappointed the Committee memberswho were pleased with what they saw on ground and not hearsay.
The House Committee Chairman, believes that Jamoh and his Management Team could achieve that much within the short period, because they had a ‘’laid down a roadmap for taking the agency to greater heights’’. Recall that on assumption of office last March as Dakuku Peterside, a former Director General of the agency tenure was not extended after the expiration of his first term in office by President Muhammadu Buhari, the NIMASA Director General had launched a three-pronged agenda for the country’s maritime industry and Shipping development . The Jamoh agenda was said to have ocussed on ‘’ maritime safety, security and shipping development’’.
Insiders told The Value News that he had limited the agency spending to the priority areas in the nation’s maritime sector . Take for instance the planned disbursement of the $200 million Cabotage Finance Fund, CVFF, to the indigenous shipowners as approved by the Katsina state born Nigerian President based on the recommendation to Amaechi, the minister of Transportation, who in turn sought the aporoval of the President and got it.
Ikpeazu, the House Committee Chairman on Safety, Education and Administration, who could not hide her feelings had said that Jamoh and his Management Team had ‘’performed so far based on its assessment and therefore, requires’’ further Legislative assistance in order ’’to generate more revenue for the government’’.
The House Committee Chairman was said to have given a pat on the back to Jamoh, who, she said ’’is doing everything within his capacity to reposition the agency to make sure that it delivers on its mandate of safety, maritime and shipping development.
Elated by the achievements of the current Management of NIMASA, she had given her words.’’We will make sure we give the Director General all the necessary support he needs because we have seen him moving towards the right direction, particular, addressing the insecurity challenge in the Gulf of Guinea, which had become a nightmare to many Foreign shipping Companies which allow their Container vessels to sail to Nigerian ports or any other port in the West African sub-region including the Equatorial Guinea.
The brief by the agency officials may have been given Hon. Ikpeazu, and the other Committee members may have given them an insight to the agency. This is evident by her remarks. She had said that ‘’the issue of security whchi is being addressed by the agency would go a long way to positively affect the revenue generation in the nation’s maritime sector’’.
She may have dropped a good news for the NIMASA Management when she revealed that ‘’the coastal and shipping Act Amendment Bill, had gone through the first reading in the House and may soon go to the second reading before going to the Committee stage. Given an insider information, she disclosed that that the proposed Amendment will reflect the Contemporary issues that would be beneficial to the indigenous ship owners. She did not hesitate in telling Jamoh and his Management Team, that ‘’a more responsive Cabotage Law will stimulate opportunities and policies for giving Seafarers jobs and improve on shipbuilding capacity of the country’’.
In apparent response to Ikpeazu, the House Committee Chairman on Safety, Education and Administration, remarks, Jamoh, who was elated by the encomiums showered on him, ‘’thanked the Committee members for their Cooperation and support , which had facilitated the achievements that had been recorded in the agency. The NIMASA Director General was said to have assured the Lawmakers that ‘’human capacity development in the nation’s maritime industry would continue to take a pride of place under his Management’’.
He may have been encouraged to invest on maritime capacity development because he believes that ‘’human beings are the most important link in the maritime industry and at the same time,’’ the weakest and most Complicated’’ in the industry’’.
He had stressed that current NIMASA Management ‘’will take the issue of training and capacity development of staff seriously ‘’. This is in addition to maintaining a close working relationship with the Maritime Workers Union, to ensure that the workers are properly trained . This may have informed the relative peace being enjoyed in the industry in the recent time.
Philip Kaynet, a Deputy Director, and the NIMASA Head, Corporate Communications had said that things are working out well in the agency because the agency Director General is carrying everybody along , which had made the staff to cue into the three-pronged agenda to ensure its realisation.