By Stephen Ubanna
With barely two months to the end of his second year in office as the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, who had looked back at the performance of the agency in 2021, had described as very impressive.
The NIMASA, boss had said that the achievements that had been recorded by Command , including Wrecks removal had been recorded in the country despite the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, which had affected the global economy in all its ramifications, including the world maritime sector sector
The agency according to him had carried along the military,comprising of the Army, Air force and the Nav al chiefs, including the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS and the Nigerian Police Force, NPF in the discharge of its official functions.
At present , the agency have initiated talks with the Buba Marwa, a retired Army Brigadier General and former Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa led Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, ‘’ ‘’to join forces with the maritime regulatory agency personnel that are going for monitoring and inspection of vessels on the nation’s waters’’.
The Jamoh led maritime Regulatory Agency, may have opened the talks with the NDLEA, because of the expertise in dictating illicit drugs. The recent discoveries of illicit drugs at the Murtala Muhammed International airport, MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre, theand the ports of Apapa and Tincan Island, also in Lagos, and the arrest of some of the victims illicit drugs, may have given the NIMASA boss the audacity to intensify the discussion with the NDLEA Authority . The argument in the agency circles was that the inclusion of the NDLEA, in ‘’the monitoring and inspection of vessels would go a long way to compliment the job of Customs and security agencies personnel in in the monitoring and searching of vessels’’ to ensure that small and light arms were not imported into the country illegally’’.
Jamoh may have alluded to the fact that the new Management of the agency which could not wait for a better time to start implementing and enforcing the safety standards of vessels under the domestic Laws and the international Conventions that had been ratified by the Nigerian government had to move into action.
Some of the Laws that was said to have guided the agency’s operations included the Safety At Sea, SOLAS Convention of 1974, The Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritme Navigation Convention , SUA,o of 1988&Prototocol of 2005, COLEREG 72, Load Limes,LL’66, and Tonnage Measurement 69, MARPOL. This is in addition to the provisions under the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, in which Nigeria as a Port State has the responsibility carrying out a minimum of 15% inspection of vessels calling at the nation’s ports.
The NIMASA Director General had said the agency Inspectors boarded and inspected 675 vessels in 2021 as against 510 vessels in 2020, a 163 vessels or 242% increase to the 2020 figure. He also said that 489 vessels were surveyed in 2021 as against 276 in 2020.
Dakuku Peterside, a former Director General of NIMASA, had supervised most of the operations but that was how far he could go. Many believe that Jamoh could do that much because he had started from the agency some 29 years ago, showing that he understands the maritime language and how to go about.
Maritime analysts believe that Jamoh and his management Team, had demonstrated that they understand the Flag state and port state control provisions going by what they had achieve in 2021 compared to 2020. But many believe that where the Jamoh led Management had really made a mark in 2021, was in the area of anti-piracy operations.
He had attributed the success to the deployment of the $195 million maritime security equipment procured by the government currently under the management and operation of the Navy and the Air Force.
The items which were said to have been delivered by an Israeli Company, HLSI Security Systems and Logistics Limited included both sea and air assets. Among the procured maritime security assets are 16 armoured vehicles for Coastal Patrol, Two Special Mission Vessels, 17 Interceptor Boats, Two Special Mission aircrafts for Surveillance of Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ, , Three Special Mission Helicopters and four unmanned Aerial vehicles.
The question on the lips of most people was that if Jamoh and his Team could achieve all that much in the area of anti-piracy, which have dropped to 34 recordded attacks as at 2021 compared to the figure in the past, why was Nigeria not elected into the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, Category C, in the December, 2021, election in London, United Kingdom, UK.
An unhappy Jamoh had blamed it on Politics, stressing that there was no one to put a word for Nigeria, to encourage the electors to change their hardline attitude against Nigeria.He noted that the agency did their homework but it was not enough. He may have hit the nail on the head when he said the British electors dealt the final blow on Nigeria by rejecting the country from being elected in IMO Category C.
The UK, electors were said to have made it clear that they will never support Nigerian, forcing the countries which have strong maritime link with it to turn their back on Nigeria and support Kenya.
In apparent move a repeat of such in future IMO elections, the NIMASA boss has vowed to correct the lapses that had worked against Nigerian not being elected into the United Nations maritime Agency, Category C, 2021, in the next election.
Tere are rumours making the rounds that he may be dragged into the Kaduna state gubernatorial race in the upcoming 2023, general elections as he is currently under intense pressure from the state, particular, his Constituency he may not have denied the pressure run for the governorship position in the s state on the ticket of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, but his response to a question on the the pressure to run for the gubernatorial race in Kaduna state in 2023, bear eloquent testimony to the fact that he may go..
Meanwhile, the South Korea government has donated a maritime security vessel to the Nigeria, which Jamoh, the NIMA, boss had said would cost about $1. 4 million dollars to bring it to the country to support the anti-piracy war.
He was said to have also used the opportunity of the interactive session with Maritime Journalists to clear the air on the Danish Navy presence in the Gulf of Guinea despite Nigeria leading role in the region, in the fight against Piracy. Recall that when the news broke out about the Dannish Naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea region, because of the killings that had occurred in the international waters 25 to 30 nautical miles south of the Nigerian maritime domain, the NIMASA helmsman had met with the country’s Ambassador in Nigeria to rub minds. They were said to have reached an understanding as Jamoh had assured him that there was no cause for alarm as Nigeria was equal to the task to contain the activities of the Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
The NIMASA, boss, may have shocked Nigerians, when he revealed that apart from the agency efforts at keeping nation’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea safe from from Pirates, it has also disbursed its yearly operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Account. He disclosed that in 2020, the agency paid N31.84 million into the Federation Account \and NN37.691,630,450.20 in 2021.
An elated Jamoh, who is moving the agency’s Head office from Apapa to its newly acquired N18 billion property in Victoria Island soon, has promised to take ‘’the agency to the ‘’promised land this year’’. Note that the agency is not struggling with the three major revenue generating agencies the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, now baptized Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, going by the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, that had been assented into Law by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, NCS or the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, but to improve on its revenue contribution to the nation’s Consolidated revenue Account.
In a related development, the NIMASA, Director General, has given an insight on the N50 billion Modular Floating which had remained a drain pipe over the years. Until the Nigerian Ports Authority agreed to provide the dockyard for the facility, the agency, according to informed sources was spending close to $30 million to maintain the dock and keep it humming on a daily basis by the Engineers of the Naval Dockyard Holdings , a subsidiary Company of the Nigerian Navy to wearing out too soon. The $30 million monthly expenditure by the agency, according to an insider also includes payment of Demurrage.
Jamoh may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he said that the agency has started Negotiations with the NPA and the Technical partners to ascertain their shareholdings in the Floating Dock project that would be approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC. He had said that the Privitisation of the Dock would reduce considerably the agency cost of maintaining it.