NIMASA: Jamoh Moves To Tackle Maritime Safety In Nigerian Inland Waterways

By Stephen Ubana

 When Bashir Jamoh, OFR, Director General, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, made a policy statement on assumption of duties on March 10, 2020, ‘’to tackle Maritime Security, Maritime Safety and pursue the country’s ship development agenda, he knew he could achieve all that with all the necessary support from the industry stakeholders and the relevant government agencies and the government.

 Former President Muhammadu Buhari, had thrown his weight behind the maritime regulatory agency with the procurement of 16 armoured vehicles, for coastal patrol, 17 Fast Interception Boats, two Special Mission Vessels, now being operated and maintained by the Nigerian Navy under the close watch of Rear Admiral Emmauel Ogalla, to support its operations.

This is in addition  to the procurement of three Helicopters, two special mission aircrafts for surveillance of Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone, NEEZ and four Unmanned Aerial vehicles, currently being operated by the Nigerian Air Force, AF, in the spirit of inter-agency relationship .The Israeli  security firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, which had  won the contract to supply the maritime security assets domiciled in NIMASA, was said to have   been paid the  sum of $195 million.

 Indeed, with the deployment of the maritime security assets, for operations, particular, the ones operated and maintained by the Nigerian Navy, ‘’piracy, sea robbery and other criminal activities appears to have been contained in Nigerian waters ad the Gulf of Guinea between 2020 and now. That much has been confirm by the International Maritime Bureau, IMB, described as   a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce, ICC, and a non- profit-making Organisation’’ to act as a focal point   in the fight against all types of maritime crime and malpractice’’

Even the International maritime Community and the Leadership of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, a United Nation, UN’s maritime agency had equally confirmed the drastic decline in piracy and sea robbery activities in Nigerian waters over the last three years that Jamoh had mounted the saddle in NIMASA.

 Having made appreciable impact in Maritime Security in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea to forestall attack on ocean -going vessels may have informed why the IMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, and his Management Team, had turned their attention to tackle Maritime Safety, another key agenda of the administration.

Worried at the continuous Boat mishap and loss of lives in Nigerian waters which was said to have put              George Moghalu, Managing Director, Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, on the high jump and always weeping  may have encouraged the NIMASA, CEO, described as a workaholic  in maritime circles   to go a step further to unravel the root causes  the Boat accidents  and to address it squarely.

There is no gain saying the fact that between   2020 and now, over 936 men, women and children had died  in over 70 Boat accidents  in Adamawa, Bayelsa, Bauchi  Kwara, Lagos , Niger, Sokoto,   and Cross river state  including Rivers, Kebbi, Kogi and Ondo states.

Mohalu, the NIWA, helmsman   who had recently expressed  sadness over the death of passengers  in the recent Boat mishaps in  Niger, home state of  former Nigerian military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, rtd,  and Adamawa, home state of Abubakar Atiku, a  former Nigerian Vice  President, during  President Olusegun Obasanjo’s  administration  and who incidentally was the Presidential  Candidate of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the February 25, 2023, Presidential elections,  but that was how far he could go.

As a prelude to effectively tackling the incessant Boat mishaps in Nigerian waters, Jamoh, the NIMASA, boss, who could not hide his feelings, was said to stressed the need for reopening of the agency’s Lokoja office in Kogi state.

 He had said in June 2020, that ‘’the move is aimed at bringing the agency close to the operators and stakeholders along the nations ‘s Inland waterways’’.  An aggrieved Jamoh, who is not happy over the persistent Boat mishaps in Nigeria waters was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen of the maritime regulatory agency’s commitment ‘’to constantly educate the country’s waterways users on safety standards and environmental issues associated with Navigation of the inland waters’’.

True to his words,  of reopening the agency Lokoja, office,  Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director and the agency spokesperson, who  had issued a statement  to reassure industry  stakeholders that the  agency  is set to reopen the Lokoja office , noted that ‘’it is part of efforts  towards  harnessing the Blue Economy’’, under the new ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in which Adegboyega Oyetola, a former governor of Osun state as the overseeing minister while also ‘’promoting  Research and Development’’.

The NIMASA CEO, may have opened up about the agency’s plan to reopen the closed Lokoja office, when he played host to Malam Usman Hayatu Mazadu, Executive Secretary of the Kaduna state Emmergency Management Agency, KADSEMA, in the agency Lagos Head office.

Jamoh, DG,NIMASA, Presenting A Souvenir To Mallam Mazadu, ES, KADESA

The NIMASA, CEO, may haven give the KADSEMA,  Executive  Secretary  a message to send back to the people when he disclosed that ‘’the key  cardinal  principle  of reopening  the agency Lokoja office ‘’ is to improve  on research and development  and to  establish  the nexus  in maximising the use  of  available resources in the nation’s inland  waterways  and the deep blue  waters  within the 28 states of the Federation, spanning over 4000 Km of inland waters and over 200 nautical miles  of ocean resources’’.

An appreciative Mallam Usman, the KADSEMA, Executive Secretary, who could not conceal his happiness over Jamoh led NIMASA Management’s decision to reopen the agency closed Lokoja office was said to have  ‘’lauded the agency  for the bold initiative  and the feat so far, achieved over the last three years, which cuts  across  the entire Nigeria’’.

While seeking for Cooperation with the agency in possible areas to enhance its operations, the KADSEMA,  CEO,  was said to have ‘’expressed the readiness of the Kaduna state  agency ‘’ ‘ to support  NIMASA  in areas  that may be deemed possible’’.   

 Until his exit from office on May 29, 2023, following the expiration of the Buhari’s eight-year-old administration, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, a former minister of n. had said that the newly acquired multi-million   naira, Abuja, the Federal Capital, FCT, zonal office oof the agency ‘’ will oversee the operations of the Lokoja Safety Base office’’.   Sambo, the immediate past   minister of Transportation   had made clear  that ‘’the  NIMASA zonal office in Abuja,  will play a vital  role  in delivering  the agency’s  regulatory responsibilities  on safety matters in  the Nigeria inland waterways’’.

He had said that the  acquisition of the strategic Zonal office at the FCT, by the Jamoh led NIMASA Management Team had facilitated the establishment of a permanent Safety Base in Lokoja, Capital of Kogi state, ‘’as several limiting factors encumber the agency former rented property in the City’’. It was said to have limited the agency’s ability to restructure and modify the facility to meet exigencies necessary to increase productivity, to the long-term financial implications of paying exorbitant rents’’.  

Described as the Champion of the blue economy project in the West African country of Nigeria, Jamoh, may have gladdened the heart of industry stakeholders and Nigerians in General when he declared that ‘’the Blue Economy has come to stay’’, noting that ‘’very soon people will see the impact of what the country have in terms of the gains and benefits ‘’to grow the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, while improving  on the economy’’.

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