Maritime: Mobereola,DG, NIMASA, Says Late  Agu Deserves Special Recognition;Nigeria Joins Other IMO Nations To Celebrate 2024, Seafarers Day

By Stephen Ubanna

The death of Ferdinand Agu, an Anambra state born Architect, Politician, and former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Authority, NMA, now baptized Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, appears to have hit the nation’s maritime sector like a thunderbolt.

 Dayo Mobereola , the incumbent NIMASA, Director General, had expected to benefit immensely from the wealth of experience of the  former Maritime Regulatory agency  Chief Executive Officer, CEO, but his death could not  allow him do so as the agency has been thrown into mourning. Describing the death of the Agu, as a big blow to the nation’s maritime industry,  Mobereola, who could not hide his feelings had acknowledged  his contributions  and influence in the sector between 2000 and 2024. 

Late Agu: ex-DG, NMA, now NIMASA

The NIMASA, Director General, had said that  the late Architect Agu’s achievements  in the defunct Nigerian Maritime Authority , NMA, which had been baptized NIMASA, with the merger with the Joint  Maritime  Labour Industrial  Council,  a parastatal of the Federal  ministry of   Transport  on August 1, 2006, by former President Olusegun Obasanjo .   

The newly created agency which late Agu, could not administer before he was kicked out in 2005, by the Ogun state  former Nigerian President   had been mandated  to pursue the development  of shipping  and regulate matters  relating  to merchant  shipping and seafarers,  administering the registration and Licensing of ships,  regulate  and certification of seafarers,  establish  maritime training  and safety standards,  and regulate  the safety of ships  as regards  the construction of ships  and Navigation.

The  newly created NIMAA  was said to have also  been given other responsibilities described as encompassing which includes too provide  search and rescue services,  provide directions  and ensure compliance  with security measures  and carry out  air and coastal surveillances.

 This is in addition to control and prevent  maritime pollution,  provide direction on qualification , cerTification , employment  and welfare of maritime Labour,  develop maritime policies  and programmes that will facilitate the growth of the country’s capacity in ownership, manning  and construction of ships  and other maritime infrastructure. More importantly was for the new agency to receive and remove ship wrecks.

Mobereola, DG. NIMASA visit to late Agu’s family

Notwithstanding, Mobereola, the new  Director General of NIMASA,   who had paid a visit to late Agu’s family had described ‘’the deceased as a man who left  indelible marks  in the nation’s maritime space   while serving as the Director General of NMA and continued  to selflessly  contribute  when called upon  long after he left office’’. 

He was emphatic that his achievements as the former helmsman of the defunct NMA, had contributed ‘’to the success story of NIMASA, in many invaluable ways’’.  He had alluded to the fact  under the Leadership of the former defunct NMA, boss, now deceased , Nigeria was included  in the International Maritime Organisation, IMO,  a maritime agency of the United Nations, UN,  , white list of countries  compliant with  the Standards of Training , Certification  and Watch keeping, STCW’’.  

He was said to have also eulogized him for conceptualizing and commencing the construction of the Nigerian Maritime Development Centre in Kirikiri, Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve center and which at present’’ serves many strategic and critical purposes   in advancing the agency mandate’’.

Recall that the NIMASA , Director General   during a visit to the family  had declared   that Late Agu deserves great  recognition  for the facility  that  houses  the Regional  Maritime Rescue  Coordination Centre and other relevant  departments  and units of the agency.

Although, the Cabotage Finance Fund, CVFF,   had been established by former President Obasanjo in 2003,   when late Agu , was still in  office as the CEO, of NMA, which functions had been collapsed into NIMASA, to offer financial assistance  , create access  to funding  by financial institutions  with the sole aim  of creating indigenous  shipping.

Until he left office in 2005, not much was heard about the CVFF,   which Adegboyega Oyetola, a former governor of Osun state and now minister of marine and blue economy, had said had reached   $700  over million collected  from the 2% surcharge on carriage contracts performed by vessels engaged in domestic or coastal shipping in Nigeria.

Many believe that if the late  Agu, had laid the foundation for the  disbursement  of the CVFF, as the  then CEO, of NMA,  before  he left office in 2005, and subsequent merger with the Joint Labour Industrial Council, in August 1, 2006,  it would have been counted as one of his achievements in office.

Given the laudable contributions  of the former defunct NMA, boss, may have given Mobereola and his Management team the ammunition to  have concluded  arrangement to participate  in his burial   which the family had said will  begin on July 23, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT,  and will be concluded  with  an outing service  on August 4, 2023. 

In a related development, Nigeria is now set ‘’to join other maritime nations across the global economy in celebrating the day of the Seafarer 2024. Oyetola, the minister of marine and blue economy,   and Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, minister of state, Labour and Employment, who will be leading the dignitaries including Mobereola, the Director General, NIMASA, Katie Higginbottom, Head, ITF, Seafarers Trust Fund, and other invited dignitaries   to the commemoration scheduled to take place in Lagos had said that all arrangements had been put I place for the event.

An elated Mobereola,  had urged Nigerians  ‘’to participate  fully in this year’s seafarers celebrations’’, adding that ‘’the use of  Safety tips at sea on all social media platforms will ensure adequate exposure to the nation’s celebration  of the seafarers day  in line with the Theme of the IMO.

According to him ‘’Seafarers are the unsung heroes of the global economy’’, and further describing them as  as ‘’the live-blood  of international trade  as they sacrifice a lot  for humanity existence  as they leave their families  for months  for our sake’’.

Let us celebrate their resilience, dedication and invaluable role they play in the world economy’’, he remarked. Appealing to Nigerians to use the Hashtag Safety Tips at Sea, for all their social media, he stated that ‘’it is the only that the country’s seafarers will feel appreciated’’.

Osadie Edward, an Assistant Director and the agency spokesperson   who  had described the seafarers  2024 commemoration  as another way of bringing to the  fore  the importance of the seafarers had said that ‘’they are essential  workers  which may have informed why the IMO  has  set the date  specifically for the celebration  of these special occupations.

Given an inside information, the NIMASA, spokesperson, disclosed that this year’s Theme of the seafarers day ‘’aligns with the agency drive ‘’to protect Nigerian seafarers and create more opportunities for those willing to take a career in seafaring’’. 

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