By Stephen Ubanna
When information filtered out that Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety , NIMASA, has been selected by the standing Committee for National Awards among those that would be decorated with the National honours on Monday,, October 10, 2022, by President Muhammadu Buhari, the staff and industry stakeholders were filled with joy.
George Akume, a former governor of Benue state and now minister, ministry of Special Duties, may have confirmed the rumours when he conveyed the letter of the Officer of the Federal Republic, OFR, honour , to the maritime ICON, whom industry stakeholders believe he has done so much to reposition the nation’s maritime sector over the last two years. Even Ade Dosumu, a former Director General of the maritime Regulatory agency have had course to give kudos to Jamoh, for his efforts in putting Nigerian on the world maritime map.
Given his 30 years of working career, in NIMASA, before his appointment as the Director General, by the Katsina state born Nigerian President, may have prepared him for the task ahead of cutting pirates and other criminal elements operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea to size.
In apparent reaction to the Presidential honour in his Social Media handle, Jamoh, was said to have ‘’expressed his gratitude to the Nigerian President for being considered for the National honour’’. He had said that ‘’words alone cannot express how humbled he felt to be so considered for the National Honour of OFR.
He noted that when he began his career some 30 years ago, in the nation’s maritime sector, little did he know that one day he would be so favoured by Almight Allah ‘’to rise to the position of DG, NIMASA, let alone to be considered for one of the highest honours in the land’’.
An appreciative Jamoh, had thanked the Nigerian President and the Standing Committee on National Honours Award ‘’for deeming him worthy of the honor’’. He was said to have dedicated the Award to the entire staff of the NIMASA and everyone, particular, maritime stakeholders, for their support to ensure that the statutory functions of the agency was fully actualized under his Administration.
Until his appointment as the Director General of NIMASA, on March 10, 2020, foreign ship owners dreaded putting their vessels in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea for fear of being attacked by pirates. There is no gain saying the fact that the Gulf of Guinea, was described as one the most dangerous vessel routes in the world. Jamoh, according to industry stakeholders had used the last two years, as an administrator to change all that as foreign vessels now approach Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea without fear of Pirates attack.
There is no gain saying the fact that since the deploymentof the Integrated National Security and Water ways Infrastructure, popular , Blue Project, the Navy and Air force personnel have been deeply involved in manning the sea and air equipment of the Project.
As a prelude to getting the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air force involved in the Blue project by NIMASA, the Nigerian government had strengthened NIMASA operations with the engagement of the Israeli firm, HLSI System and Technologies Limited, to supply $195 million maritime security equipment to the agency, which includes both Land, sea and air equipment.
Between 2020 and now, the Israeli firm had delivered 17 Interception Boast for coastal Patrol, 16 armoured vehicles, three Helicopters, Two Special Mission vessels, Two Special Mission aircrafts four Unmanned Aerial vehicles to NIMASA, for the take off the Blue Project. Note that the Naval personnel are operating and maintaining the sea infrastructure while the Nigerian Air force are overseeing the aircrafts.
Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, may have made bold Statement with the deployment of the Blue Project security equipment into Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea as many of the pirates, who in the past had attacked ocean- going vessels, laden with cargoes, and kidnapped their crew members, have been forced to go underground or relocated to other regions to launch their attack on ocean-going vessels.
The introduction of the Blue project security equipment into Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, according to industry stakeholders have reduced to the barest minimum , thus culminating in Nigeria being removed from the infamous Piracy red list by the International Maritime Bureau, IMB.
Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director, overseeing the agency Mededia, Adverts and Brands, had told those that cares to listen that ‘’the hallmark of Jamoh’s tenure has been his institutionalization of Collaboration with other maritime stakeholders, both within and outside the country, to achieve major milestones in the sector’’. He is right.
He was said to have also cited the initiation of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum/Shared Awareness and Deconfliction , GoG-MCF/SHADE which was said ‘‘to have demonstrated positive outcomes derived from information sharing among regional and non-regional military forces in achieving a secure maritime space’’.