How NIMASA Collaborated With the Navy To Make Nigerian Waters Safer

By Stephen  Ubanna

Those who think that the  Nigerian waters are not safe for  voyaging vessels would be disappointed. This is because the Nigerian Maritime Administration, NIMASA, under the close watch of Dakuku Peterside, the Director General, in collaboration with the Navy  over the last three and half years, have made the country  waters uncomfortable, for pirates and other criminal elements, thus making it  one of the safest in the shipping route of Gulf of Guinea in the recent time.

 The criminal elements  who may  have attempted to  attack voyaging vessels  and oil tankers would never forget their experience in a hurry in the hands of the Naval personnel patrol teams with the active support of the NIMASA  Surveillance and Rescue officials.

 That much was confirmed  by Hassan Bello, a Lawyer and Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC.  Bello had said that   if the Pirates had made 100 attack attempts  in the Nigerian waters, the Navy alone had scuttled 98 of them. His major worry was that   any incident  of pirate attacks on ocean going vessels and oil Tankers in neigbouring countries in the west African sub-region, the international Community, particular the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, had attributed it to Nigeria, to give the  impression that the country waters are not safe.

  indeed, the IMO,   in its global reports for the first and second quarters  of 1918  had actually described  the country waters as  unsafe  for voyaging vessels. But maritime experts had dismissed the reports as erroneous  ostensibly aimed at discouraging  investors from  the nation’s maritime sector

Bello , the NSC , boss, who did not find the report funny   has threatened to take up the matter  with the IMO and the  Global Shippers Forum   as well as other International Shipping Communities over their deliberate Classification of Nigerian waters as unsafe.  He maintains  that Nigerian waters are truly safer as stated by Peterside , the NIMASA boss. 

The NSC helmsman  had  told those that cares to listen both within and outside the country that    the ”country waters are safe  and the ports efficient  including getting cargoes  . He disclosed that the nation’s seaports  could compete with  ports in other parts of the word  as Hajia Hadiza Usman, the Managing Director , Nigerian Ports Authority , NPA,  is  building  new infrastructure at the ports that could  stand the test of time.  

The International Maritieme Bureau, IMB,, appears to have put smiles on NIMASA officials and  Nigerians in general in its report on piracy  incidents in the world. Note that the IMB is the only authentic  specialised agency  based in the Asian country of India, which could give accurate data  that could not be faulted anywhere in the world  about each maritime nation in terms of safety for voyaging vessels.   

Only recently  the Bureau rated Nigerian waters  safer for ocean going vessels” , stating that”  it has further  boosted  ”investors confidence  in the nation’s maritime sector locally and globally”. The Bureau  first quarter  report this year  had stated  that the Nigerian maritime   domain  recorded” no vessel  hijack , first time since 1994 that the country would have such a record”, no thanks to Peterside and his management team. The report further stated that   between  January and March , the country also recorded a decrease  in piracy incidents  compared  to the same period last year.

Pttengal  Mukundan,  Director, IMB,  reportedly said that  Nigeria may have taken  advantage of   the Coordinated  Responses  to incidents  of piracy  through NIMASA and the  Navy to give the pirates and other criminal elements within Nigerian waters a battle of their life that that they have  been forced to go underground.

 Recall that the agency had embarked on the Deep Blue Project  with the backing of Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and now minister of Transportation. The project, according to NIMASA sources was geared towards  riding  the Nigerian waters of  criminalities through  an integrated  security  and water ways protection infrastructure.

  This may  have informed  why the government maritime regulatory agency and the Navy  could effectively patrol  the 853 KM stretch  of the country’s coastline  and  its location in the Gulf of Guinea axis  may have also made it strategic  for both maritime activities and security issues.  

Many believe that the length of the country’s coastline  and its exclusive economic zone  including its strategic  location on a major shipping route   which is the Gulf of Guinea may have encouraged the agency officials  to strengthen the security of the country water ways   which Perside said had gradually ”reduced  illegalities such as piracy , oil theft , sea robbery in the country waters and indeed the Gulf of Guinea”.

Appearing before  the Senate Committee on Maritime during the defense Transport  of its 2019 budget recently, the NIMASA, had informed them    that ”piracy  and other maritime crimes in Nigerian waters  had reduced  drastically  in the country’s maritime domain”, thus making it safer for” maritime investmen’t .

He had alsoi informed the Committee that that all the various  efforts put in place by the agency with the support of the government    to ”tackle piracy and other crimes in Nigerian waters are yielding results. He was alluding to the Deep Blue project assuring that that it  would” continue to up its game  to ensure Nigerians benefit from the enormous potential in the sector” to the admiration of the Committee members.

 Peterside who could not hide his feelings had told the Lawmakers that the that the Nigerian waters could not have been  rated safer by the IMB  without the support of other security agencies , particular, Rear Admiral Akinjide Akirinade  led Joint Task Force on oil Bunkering in the Niger Delta

. ” Statistics do not lie”, he said.  An elated NIMASA boss said   they were however not surprised  with the IMB rating  because  of the level of work  done over the last three and half years to make the country waters safe.   ”We  know the level  of work  we have done  coupled with the support  of President Muhammadu Buhari  and Amaechi, the minister of Transportation to ensure  that the country maritime sector becomes a haven  for investors”, he had said.

He is optimistic that with the improved security in Nigerian waters which had sacked the pirates and other criminal elements,   the nation’s maritime sector could easily ”fund  a large  a large percentage of  the country’s budget if properly harnessed.

Hassan Bello: Executive Secretary, NSC Ally With Peterside That Nigerian Waters Are Safer

 More so , the agency has  further made things  difficult for the pirates in the Gulf of Guinea by partnering  with the Interpol Global Outreach and Region Support, described as experts in smoking  out the pirates in their hide out because of their specialised training by Maritime Observers.  As a prelude to fine tuning their  operations , they were said to have held the first partnership meeting on Thursday, May2, 2019, in Lagos. Given the importance attached to the partnership deal with NIMASA, the meeting was said to have been well attended by Interpol officials , including Noha Amer, senior Manager Global Outreach and Region Support.  

   He noted that despite the   increases  in the agency’s contribution   to the Consolidated  Revenue Fund, CRF, it ”remained committed to doing more, especially   with the recently  launched ” final billing  system, the automation of  its processes and other strategies  being put in place  by the management to block all areas of revenue leakages ”.

 Bello, the NSC boss, corroborated his views when he said that  the Nigerian waters  are safer for business  to thrive   because of the  coordinated and well thought  out  plans  between NIMASA and the Navy, an indication of more money coming into the government coffers at the end of the  year.

  He had challenged the country maritime detrators  to look at their collaboration between NIMASA and the country’s Navy  to really understand that  Nigerian waters are safer for ocean going vessels. He disclosed that those who had branded the country waters as unsafe   had done so  in order  to put outrageous   surcharges  such as” war risk insurance surcharges” on Shipping lines which could be passed to the shipper and in turn to the Consumer to heighten inflation in the country.” We are not war’, he said.’ .\

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