Maritime: Jamoh’s Maritime Skills Transcend Nigerian Boundary;  GAMA Officials To Understudy Nigerian Cabotage Regime, NIMASA Expertise

 By Stephen Ubanna

 Barely four years after Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under  Leadership of Dakuku Peterside, the then Director General and Ghana Maritime Authority,GAMA, under the Leadership   of Kwame Owusu,,signed a Memorandum of Understanding , MoU, to optimally  harness the natural  potential  the two  West African member countries,some officials of the GAMA, are currently in Nigerian to understudy the NIMASA Cabotage regime to facilitate its  implementation  in Ghana.

The Owusu, led GAMA, may have taken advantage of the MoU, between the two West African Maritime nations  which was informed by  the ‘’knowledge transfer, sharing initiative  between the two  countries maritime Administration,  joint capacity building initiative, joint comparative  research initiative, Cabotage  enforcement  joint   study initiative,  and joint efforts  to combat  piracy  and terrorism initiative’’, to send a team to NIMASA , on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

The visit by the GAMA , Team for a training programme in NIMASA, is coming on the heels of the extra-ordinary summit of  the Heads of State and Government  of the Gulf Guinea Mission, GGC, conveyed in Accrea, the country’s Capital.  The GAMA visiting Team was said to have been led by Patience Diaba, Direcor, Legal/ Board Secretary.

There is no gain saying the fact that Bashir Jamoh, Director General, NIMASA, who had travelled to several counrie   across the world  with Owusu  , in the last three years, may have developed interest in him to help in restructuring GAMA, to leave up  to its mandate.   

Jamoh, the NIMASA boss, had revealed during the GAMA officials visit that there was a  time his GAMA, Counterpart had problem  with  a group who were said to have   petitioned  Mahamudu, Bawumia the country’s Vice President about him  ostensibly   to facilitate  his removal from his office.

 Given that GAMA and NIMASA, are’’ one and very united’’, may have informed, why the NIMASA , Director General had stepped into the Owusu  matter to help him out from his trial moment  in the agency .

As a prelude to the training programme of the GMA,   officials, in the maritime regulatory  agency, Jamoh, the NIMASA , Chief Executive officer, CEO, accompanied by  Victor Onyekachi Ochei, an Engr. and the agency Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Olamide. A.  Odusanya, Director, Audit, and some  other top officials of the agency were said to have  welcome him  to the  board roomto welcome the GAMA officials.

Jamoh,DG, NIMASA, Eng. Ochei, Diaba, Leader Of GAMA Dellegation In NiMASA

Engr. Ochei, who was given the nod by the NIMASA , CEO, to  give the opening remarks   may have made the GAMA officials  to understand  that they will be ‘’gaining the skills  to run a perfect maritime Administration  without the inclusion  of the pitfalls   passed by the agency   under the current Management  ‘’to attain its current leve’’l  that the international maritime Community and the Leadership of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO,  have come to recognise its efforts. 

The NIMASA Executive Director, had told the GAMA  officials  that the agency have ‘’evolved  many ways  to get it   to its present enviable  level, particular, the implementation of the cabotage regime’’. The Cabotage regime expert  may have gladdened the heart of the GAMA  officials  who are anxiously waiting to start  the training  programme because of what they have  seen on ground   may have been given snippets of what to expect from the trainers  when he said   that they chronologically  intended   ‘’to take them  on the enabling legislations  and instruments  that had empowered the agency  over the years to operate  and on  historical  journey and overview     to strengthen them  on the four famous pillars   of the Cabotage  regime, as well as enforcement procedures’’ among others.

According to him, one of the critical aspects  of the nation’s Cabotage Administration   was’’the desire  ‘’to build  indigenous capacity  through robust financing  which  gave to the government establishment of Cabotage  Financing Fund, CVFF’’.

Given an insider information of the CVFF, he asserted that  ‘’it is a method    employed  to ensure that the indinous  shipping Companies   are  able to properly compete   and eventually  overtake foreign  participation  in the country’s  maritime domestic trade’’.

He may have made the GAMA officials to also understand that the agency had made the cabotage regime ‘’flexible   by coming up with ‘’waiver regulations that should serve as buffer for the intended shocks  that may arise  from the protectionist policy’’. He noted that the waiver regime had continuously been phased out to the extent that ‘’it has been less attractive to the industry operators in the nations maritime domain’’.

 Aware that the agency cannot do everything alone, for instance tackle piracy and other criminal activities in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea, Engr. Ochei, who may have given an insight to GAMA, officials of what they should be expecting to hear from their trainers had said that they had ‘’to build collaborations with relevant public and  private agencies to ensure effectiveness in achieving its mandate.

 He had alluded to the close working relationship with Engr. Smbi .K. Wabote  led   Nigerian Content  Development  and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, which was said’’ to have helped   in the conduct of audit of existing  ship yards and training institutions in  the country’’.

He may have put it at the back of the GAMA officials, as well that as they acquire the requisite knowledge, they should be aware  that ‘’Collaboration  is   the key to achieving  the success, GAMA, desire  in the administration of the country’s cabotage regime’’.

He may have spoken the mind of theNIMASA, Director  General when he said  that the agency  would continue ‘’ to support GAMA    as it strives to  grow enviable  capacity  in Ghana’’. Ochei, a one-time member of the House of Represenatives  from Delta state, may  not have  taken the GAMA officials  through the sources of funds of the Cabotage regime  as that  may have been left it  for the Director General to handle in his keynote Address.

 The NIMASA helmsman had said that  Cabotage fund  is financed through  a surcharge of two percent  of the contract sum  performed  by any vessel  involved in coastal trade.  The Value News findings shows that other monies generated  from the coastal and shipping  like tariffs, fines and fees for licenses, waivers and other service levies that may be stipulated by the National Assembly  from time to time and which must be paid  to assist   the indigenous ship owners  in their drive  for ship Acquisition  to increase the country’s tonnage .

 At present the fund which grows on a daily basis   has accrued to  over  16 , and $350 million  because the levy is collected  in both local and  the North American country of the United States, US, dollars. The NIMASA Chief had Cooroborated what Engr.  Ochei   said   that the Cabotage fund if disbursed  as expected   will give  Nigerian ship owners  access to cheap funds   to procure new vessels  in order  to fully  participate  in the country’s coastal  and inland shipping business.

Jamoh, who may have spoken on the sidelines may have given an insight why the five  banks approved  by the government to disburse the funds  are still delaying  in implementing the government mandate.  Recall that the Katsina state born Nigerian President, who is counting days in office  to hand over to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed  Tinubu, the President –elect on the Platform  of the ruling  All Progressive Congress,APC, had approved last December  for immediate disbursement  of the n16 billion  and over $350 million  in the  CVFF accounts.

Going by the funding formular for the Cabotage regime, Act 2003,, the government , through NIMASA , which collects the two percent  levy , from the  ship owners , from all contracts executed in Nigerian waters  will  contribute 50% , the five banks  approved by the government-  Polaries, Jaiz,  Zenith, Union and UBA, are to contribute   35%  each while the beneficiaries would cough out the remaining 15 percent of the funding of their vessel project.

 He had regretted that the two maritime icons, who had contributed meaningfully to discussions on the establishment of the CVFF and disbursement of the funds,  Otuna Olakunle Folarin and  Mrs. Margret  Orakwusi, a Lawyer, are not alive  to rap the fruit  of their labour.

 Given that the Banks are still trying to make things difficult for the ship owners in accessing the CVFF, by insisting on 8.5% interest rate to be paid by the benefiting shipping Companies which looks unattractive may have informed why the response appears to be  very slow. 

 The NIMASA, helmsman concern to reduce the burden on the Ship owners may have informed why he has reached out some Development Banks to know how much they could charge as interest rate if included to disburse the  CVFF as well . He may have adopted this steps in order to put the card on the table to get the best bargain from the five banks for the ship owners.

 He was said to have also  taken up the matter with the Godwin Emefiele led Central Bank of Nigerian, CBN, to ensure that the apex bank  makes available forex  to be disbursed  to the indigenous shipping companies that would be approved to  access  the CVFF, at the official rate instead of  making things  difficult for them.

 An appreciative Jamoh, had said that   ship owners   have every  cause to be happy his time around   over all  the amendments  that had been made to the  2003 Cabotage Act, taking into cognizance the demands of the operators which  is  expected to be signed into Law and released by  the outgoing Nigerian President before  he leaves office on May 29, 2023.

 In carrying out the amendments to the 2003, Cabotage Act , the Nigerian President may have had one thing at the back of his  mind’’ to ensure that beneficiaries  of the CVFF  Loan  would  have cargo to carry  to be able repay their loan  and effectively overtake the foreign shipping companies  which  had dominated  the Nigerian  maritime domain over the years.

 The worry of many was that even  if the total amount in the CVF Account is given to one shipping Company  alone to procure a vessel,  it may  not be enough , let alone disbursing the   over 350 million that had accrued to the fund to tens of indigenous shipping Companies that  need financial assistance to buy vessels  to increase the country’s tonnage.

    This is because shipping business is capital intensive, depending on the tonnage.  CW.Kellock  and Co. and the sister Company , Forester,  both ship broken firm  Practioners ,  may have given an insight to the price of ships  depending  on the size.  .Take for instance,  the capsize, Kamasarmax, PPanamax, Ultramax, Supramax, Handymax,  or the smaller bulky carriers , panama , chemicals and other takers were said to realy very expensive.

The two ship broken firms had said  that   whether ships are  new build or fairly used , it runs into millions of dollars  to acquire while some could go for as much as a billion dollars or more.  The Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG ,, carriers  , Container vessels ,   multi-purpose RORO and General  Cargo vessels or refrigerated freefer vessels,  are not cheap either.

 There is no gain saying the fact  that  owning  a cargo carrying vessel is expensive , not just the purchase price  but the operation and maintenance costs which could be a significant  percentage  of the value  of the cost of  building  new cargo vessel in a  shipyard.

Going  by  The online Magazine findings ,  a  Nigerian shipping Company would need between $200 million  to several millions  of dollars  depending on the kind of vessel the company  might  want to purchase   while several thousands  of dollars  would be needed  to buy old  second hand  small size vessels, which NIMASA Authorities would not encourage  to avoid turning Nigeria  into a dumping ground of substandard vessels.

 Diaba, the Leader of the GAMA, delegation had expressed appreciation to Jamoh and Managaement Team for the lavish welcome granted to them in Nigeria.

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