By Stephen Ubanna
When Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, promised to address the problems of maritime safety and maritime security, in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, GoG, on assumption of duties in March 2021, to drive away the Pirates disturbing ocean- going vessels in Nigerian waters and the GOG, in March 2021, nobody took him serious.
He was said to have repeatedly made it clear to those care to listen that the goal was ‘’to eliminate entirely such incidents’’ in which the region had lost over N800 million in GoG, alone. Pundits fear that he may not achieve the goal because past NIMASA, Chief Executives had made such promises but failed to keep to it. This is because of the situation in the region described as a haven for Pirates,thus forcing most of the shipping Companies to engage the services of private security outfits to protect their vessels to forestall any attack
Indeed, Jamoh and his Management Team, may have gone back to the drawing board to address the problems with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army general, who had spent 195 million to procure maritime security equipment, comprising of 16 armoured vehicles for Costal Patrol, 17 Fast Interceptor Boats, Two Special Mission aircrafts. Two Special Mission vessels, Three Special Mission Helicopters stationed at the Naval base Apapa and four unmanned Aerial vehicles for the maritime security agency for the National Inland Waterways Protection Infratructure, popular, deep Blue project.
With the delivery of the equipment from the Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, that had won the contract in 2017, between 202 and May 2021, to tackle maritime security and safety issues, both on Land, sea and air, in Nigerian maritime water and the GOG, informed sources told The Value News, that Jamoh, the NIMASA , Director General had kept to his words by ensuring a consistent month to month drop in the number of attacks on ships in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ,
In doing so, the agency had engaged the Army, Airforce, Navy and the police. The NIMASA boss may have given a hint to the international Community last December that there was no cause to worry about international vessels entering Nigerian waters or the GOG. He had presented a paper entitled ‘’Seafarers and Maritime Capacity at the core of Africa’s Shipping Future’’, at a Roundtable , where he was said to have highlighted the consistent declines both in the attack on ships and kidnapping of Crew members in Nigerian waters and the GOG. The NIMASA helms man may have gladdened the heart of the participants at the Roundtable Conference when he disclosed that between January and September 2021, GoG region recorded 28 incidents of Piracy attacks compared to 46 for the same period in 2020.
The number of Pirates in the region, according to the NIMASA, Director General, rose to t 34, which he had described as a very impressive record, that should be celebrated by Nigerians. Officials of the International Maritime Bureau, IMB, had said that ‘’the Piracy incidents in Nigerian waters and he GOG, dropping from 81 in 2020 to 34 I 2021, , representing 58.02% was not an accident’’. The IMB officials had attributed it to ‘’the product of Conscious collaborative efforts by the maritime Regulatory agency , the Nigerian Navy and other industry stakeholders in the region’’.
The IMB report was said to have also shown a decline in the number of Crew kidnapping incidents in the region from 150 to 57 in 2021. There are indications that the number of Piracy incidents and Crew kidnappings in the region will further decline with international support, particular, the European Union, EU, United Kingdom and the North American Country of the United States, US. The Italian government have been very appreciative of the efforts of Jamoh led NIMASA, to rid Nigerian waters and the GOG , of Pirate activities, ostensibly to protect ocean going vessels that it was said to have donated a Patrol vessel to the agency which the NIMASA , CEO, had said that they would need about $1.4 million to take to take to the country.
In a related development the NIMASA Director General has given an insight on the collection statutory Levies from industry stakeholders, tackle insecurity in Nigerian waters and the GOG, stressing that that ‘’the levies are in accordance with the provisions of the Act setting up the agency in 2007.
The charges, are the component of the Gross freight which the Act says must be paid by the shipowners not interms of product to marketers or any entity ‘’. It is instructive to note that all the payments are made in foreign currency , into the Single Treasury Account of the Federal government with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele. It could not be ascertained how muh is in the Acoount for now as it is still a closely guided secret.
Recall that the NIMASA boss had taken advantage of the recent interactive session with maritime Journalists in Lagos to open up on its contribution to the nation’s Consolidated revenue Fund, stressing that it generated N31 billion in 2020, which rose to N37 billion in 2021, showing an increase of N43.6%, which were paid into the Federal Sing Digit government Account with the CBN, This clearly shows that the agency are not only pursuing Pirates and Kinappers , in Nigerian waters and the GOG, but also looking for ways to improve on its revenue generation to pay into the Federation Account to join the league of the revenue generating agencies like Nigerian National Petroleum Corporatiion, NNPC, now bptised Nigerial National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPC, GOING by the NIA, that had been assented to by the Katsina born Nigerian President, Nigerian Cutoms Service, NCS and Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS.
Note that the amount paid by the agency into the Federation Account was quite different from the amount domiciled in the Vessel Financing Fund, VFF,, with the CBN. As at May 201, Jamoh had said that the total amount from the three percent levy on ocean going vessels calling at the nation’s ports was N32 billion and $209 million. An insider told The Magazine that the VFF, is growing on a daily basis but could not reconcile how much is currently in the Account. The source had said that the erstwhile Goodluck Administration had spent part of the money, noting that the agency Accounts Department are working round the clock to reconcile the figures.
Edward Osagie , Assistant Director and the agency acting spokesperson had said that the recent fire incident that gutted Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited, offshore facility, Trinity Spirit Floating Production Storage and Offloading , FPSO, facility, at Ukpokiti terminal, in Delta state, is currently receiving the attention of Jamoh, led Management.
The NIMASA Director General, who had described the incident as ‘’unfortunate’’ , the agency spokesperson had said is working with other relevant agencies ‘’to establish the immediate and remote causes of the fire explosion, to avoid a repeat in the future’’.
He was said to have assured the Company, that owned the FPSO, that that the agency will’’ work with the International Maritime Organisation, a maritime agency of the United Nations, UN, through the use of International Oil Pollution Compensation , IOPC, Funds, to ensure that the Company is adequately Compensated of all the losses incurred in the fire explosion within and around its facility. This should serve as a good news to Ikemefuna Okafor, the CEO, of the Company, who had said that fire was caused by an explosion that is currently been investigated, confirming what the NIMASA , Director General had said..