We Will provide Enabling Environment For Port Operations, Dangote Refinery – Jamoh, DG, NIMASA

By Stephen Ubanna

Those who thinks that sea pirates and other Criminal elements operating within Nigerian waters would disrupt the prts operations of the $19 billion Dangote refining and petrochemical plant designed to process 650,000b/d crude oil  into Premium Motor Spirit, popular,  petrol, Dual Purpose  Kerosene, DPK, Automotive Gas Oil, Popular, Diesel and Aviation Jet Oil, would be disappointed.

This is because  Bashir Jamoh, OFR, led Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety  Agency, NIMASA, which oversees the $195 million  maritime security equipment comprising of 17 interception boats, 16 vessels for Coastal Patrol, Two Special Mission Vessels, Two Special Mission Aircrafts  for surveillance  of Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ, three Special  Mission Helicopters and four  Unmanned Aerial vehicles  from Messrs HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, an Israeli security firm has taken over  effective control of Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea,  described in maritime circles as an important  hipping  zone transporting  oil and gas  , including other  goods to and from West, Central  and southern African countries.

Until, Jamoh led NIMASA Management , deployed the agency maritime security  equipment, particular, the ones managed by Vice Admiral  Emmanuel Ogalla led Nigerian Navy, into the  Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea,  Piracy,  sea robbery, kidnapping of seafarers, illegal fishing  in Nigerian waters, smuggling, human trafficking and  other transnational  organized  crime pose  a major threat  to the economic development of Nigeria and the West and Central African region in general.

 Indeed, the completion of the $1.5 billion Lekki deep seaport in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center and the establishment of heavy industries at the port, may have encouraged NIMASA and its sister security agency, Nigerian Navy, to step up patrol of Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea to contain the activities of the criminal elements operating Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

The take- off of the $19 billion Dangote refining and petrochemical plant in Lagos and the PortHarcourt refinery which is expected to start production soon and other Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, rebaptised Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill by the National Assembly in 2021, which  total  production level  is put at 1.3 million b/d, may have informed why the maritime regulatory agency and the Nigerian Navy are alive to their duties.

Going by a recent Statement issued by  Aliko Dangote , a multi-billionaire  President of Dangote Group  about the commencement of production  by the Dangote refinery  to produce  diesel and Aviation fuel, may have  encouraged Jamoh, the   NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO,  to give his words to Dangote,  the multi-billionaire business mogul  that there was no cause to worry about security of its vessels mand products  for sale  both within and outside the Nigerian shores.

Jamoh, the NIMASA, CEO, who could not hide his feelings was said to have also made it clear to those that cares to listen that the agency is committed to ensuring that the business of the Dangote Ports Operations and the refinery would not be hindered by the activities of Pirates or the agency implementation of the its regulatory instrument under the provisions of the Cabotage Act.

Jamoh , DG, nimasa, presents souvenir to Omole, MD, Dangote Ports Operations during a visit

Note that in pursuant  of the Coastal and Shipping , Cabotage Act, 2003,  as passed by the National Assembly and signed  into Law by former President Olusegun Obsanjo, the agency was said to have been mandated  with ‘’the responsibility of enforcing  the provisions of  the Act  provides  that  a surcharge  of two percent  contract sum   on contracts  performed by any vessel  engaged in Cabotage trade  including tariff,  fines and fees for Licenses and waivers shall be paid  into the fund from time to time  as determined and approved by the National Assembly.

There are indications that not many shipping companies are regular in making the payments which may have informed why the agency had embarked   on aggressive recovery of all the debts and levies from 2004 till date, in collaboration with its recovery agent-Bulls Plus Limited.

  At present the Legislation that are being implemented by the agency  in relation to the Cabotage Act  includes Merchant Act, 2007, Coastal and Inland shipping, Cabotage Act, 2003, Coastal and Inland shipping, Bareboat Registration Regulation,2006, Coastal and Inland shipping Cabotage, Detention of ships  Regulation , 2006, Guidelines on implementation  of Coastal  and Inland shipping  ,Cabotage Act, 2003.

Jamoh, DG, NIMASA &four others , during a visit by Omole ,MD, Dangote Ports Operations in a pix

The NIMASA boss may have taken advantage of the recent visit of a delegation from the Dangote Ports Operations and the refinery led by   Akin Omole, the Managing Director, to reassure the Management team that  ‘’the implementation  of the provisions of the 2003, Cabotage Act would not  in any way affect its operations. 

The NIMASA boss was said to have promised the Dangote ports and refinery delegations that the agency will work with them to ensure that that ‘’the Dangote Group does not breach any Federal government Laws and regulations as regards to Wet cargo afreightment’’.   The two parties were said to have agreed ‘’to set up a working Committee to address the operational concerns at the refinery within 14 working days.

Given an insider information on how the idea of setting up the Committee came about, Jamoh, the NIMASA CEO, disclosed  that he had suggested  ‘’the setting up of a joint Committee  with members drawn  from  the agency  and the Dangote Ports and refinery  in order to sit down and look at all issues  objectively’’ .He noted that though ’’its priority as the country’s maritime regulator   is the implementation of the provisions of the Cabotage Act,2003  but‘’ it will ensure that the Dangote refinery Operations are not impeded’’.

Although, the coming on stream of the Dangote refinery   would lead to a drop in NIMASA’s monthly, revenue generation from vessels carrying imported refined Petroleum products, such as petrol, diesel and Aviation fuel into the country as it would reduce drastically, he however noted that it is good for the country’s economic growth and long term benefit to Nigerians.

 He was emphatic that the coming on stream of the Dangote refinery is to the advantage of the country, isisting that ‘’the immediate revenue generation is not the major concern of the NIMASA for now’’. The Nigerian Ports Authority had reported  that 3,778 vessels entered into the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island and Port Terminal Multi-services Limited, PTML,  Kirikiri Lighter Terminal , KLT, phases I and II, and the south eastern ports of Onne, Rivers port, Calabar port , in Cross river state and Delta port, Warri , in 2023,   when the country was still importing Petroleum Products into the country.

Babatunde Fashola, a former governor of Lagos state and immediate past mister of Works under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration may have given a hint that the vessels call at the nation’s port, particular wet cargo vessels will drop significantly this 2024, as Dangote refinery had commenced production and other refineries, both private and public, are also expected to commence production this year. Recall that over the years Petroleum Products imports have accounted for the pressure on the naira because of the estimated 30% demand on the US dollar had come from NNPC and the marketers.

  There are indications that the demand for the US dollar at the Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market, AFEM, by  NNPCL and the marketers have reduced since Dangote refinery resumed operation as the naira currently exchanges for N891.00 to one US dollar. It is expected to drop further with the coming into being of the PortHarcourt refinery between now and early February 2024.      

Omole, the Managing Director of the Dangote Ports Operations may have used the opportunity of the visit to NIMASA to reassure Jamoh and his Management team that the operations of the multi-billion refinery at Lekki port will not contravene the provisions of the Cabotage Act, 2003.   He had confirmed that the delegations from the Dangote Ports and Refinery had talked about their business being done at the Lekki port in a way that ‘’there would be no obstructions or delay in the delivery of cargoes to Customers ad outside the country.

He has every reason to speak out.  This is because in shipping, a day’s delay could cause a shipping company or charterer of the cargo vessel an average of over $50,000 demurrage at the port. This is in addition to increasing fuel costs to keep the vessel engine running non- stop on a daily basis, and labour expenses to the surge in regulatory compliance costs.

 The Dangote Ports Operations Managing Director would want the NIMASA Director General to assure him that ‘’this kind of delays are not going to be experienced at the port any longer. He was said to have appealed to Jamoh, the NIMASA, CEO, to do  everything within his powers  ‘’to ensure that all  administrative bottlenecks , regulations that may cause hindrances  and  cause delays to its ships operations  are addressed  jointly  and collaboratively by the Dangote and NIMASA teams’’.                                      

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