By Stephen Ubanna
Duoye Diri, a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria and now, the people’s Democratic Party, PDP, governor of the oil rich Bayelsa through the Court process, appears determined to add value to the state within his four years in office by developing its maritime potentials.
He may have come into the conclusion that the only way to actualize his vision of exploiting the enormous maritime resources of the state is to go into strategic partnership with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the close watch of Bashir Jamoh.
He may have known much about the enormous Responsibilities of the Maritime Regulatory agency and how it can change the nation’s over dependence on the oil sector as the main source of revenue generation to finance the economy.
It was therefore not very surprising that within his first one year in office , he could come up with plans to pay a Courtesy call on Bashir Jamoh, the Kaduna state born Director General of NIMASA, who was barely five months in office.
He was said to have actualised the visit the visit the agency on Monday, September 7, 2020. Maritime Journalists including visitors at the NIMASA office Complex at the time of the visit of the Bayelsa state governor, were surprised how he humble himself to visit a Political appointee of President Muhammadu Buhari to solicit for support for the development of the state enormous Maritime resources.
Political Observers who saw when he touched down from the aircraft at the local wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos, initially thought he was in Lagos state on the invitation of Babajide Samwo-Olu, the All Progressive Congress, APC, governor of the state. They were forced to do a rethink when the south-south state governor and his entourage turned their movement towards the Apapa port axis. That gave them the impression that he has an important assignment at the port environment. They became convinced when he finally stopped over at NIMASA.
Maritime analysts believed that Diri, the Bayelsa state governor’s visit to NIMASA, have opened the door way for governors of other Coastal states, particular, who desire the established presence and support of the Jamoh led agency in their state to visit the agency.
For now, the Bayelsa state governor is the highest top ranking government official that had ever visited the agency since its establishment in 1987, by Ibrahim Babangida , a rtd Army General and former military President.
Jamoh and his Management Team, may have prepared well in advance for the coming of the Bayelsa state governor. As a prelude to the visit there was palpable calm in the NIMASA office Complex as the security men on duty were on the red alert to ensure that there was no disruption to the well planned historic visit of a serving governor to the agency.
On arrival at the agency, on the sheduduled date, he was said to have been received by Jamoh, the agency Director General and his Management Team, amidst tight security, to show their respect for him. They were said to have retired to the Boardroom and later to theDirector General’s office where they were said to have had a heart to heart discussion.
He may have given insight to the NIMASA Management about the purpose for the visit when he said that ‘’ lots of countries are moving away from fossil fuels as their major source of revenue earnings as the maritime sector gives them the alternative, noting that Nigeria cannot be an exception’’. He may have hit the nail on the head when he declared ‘’maritime gives Nigeria the alternative for now’’.
The Bayelsa state governor was said to have made Jamoh, the Director General, NIMASA, and his Management Team , to understand that all the eight local government areas in the state could only be accessed by water which should be source of encouragement for the agency to expand its presence in the state.
He may have drawn the attention of the Maritime Regulatory agency Management Team to the plight of the people of the state when he said,’’ that the headquarters of the three of the eight local government areas, could only be reached by water, insisting that that’’ this is why the state is important for maritime development’’.
Diri who could not hide his feelings had osaid that the state ‘’is seeking partnership with NIMASA, which is the apex of the nation’s maritime regulatory agency to expand its regulatory activities to the state’’.
He was said to have sought the partnership with the agency in the areas of training, Youth development, establishment of a maritime Academy in the state as obtained in Akwa Ibom state, where the agency already had an established Maritime Academy at Oron. He stopped short at telling the NIMASA, Management that there is need to reconsider the need for the development of the Agge Deep Seaport at Ekeremor local government area.
He may have gladdened the heart of Jamoh and his Management Team when he said ,’’ NIMASA and Bayelsa are inextricably one’’, nothing that ‘’there is need for both to Collaborate to strengthen the country’s maritime domain’’.
Diri may have also taken advantage of the visit to appeal to the agency ‘’to help in the removal of the wrecks that had impaired navigation in many parts of the coastal state’’. He was said to have further requested the agency’s support n its attempt to develop the state maritime potentials.
Jamoh, the NIMASA Director General who may have listened with rapt attention to the governor’s various demands to open up the state maritime sector was said to have informed him that the agency has not forgotten the fact the oil state was one of ‘’the agency’s strongest allies in the pursuit of its mandate of sustainable regulation and promotion of the nation’s maritime sector’’.
The NIMASA helmsman was said to have informed the Bayelsa state governor that security was of utmost importance to the ealisation of a prosperous maritime sector. Note that security , promotion of maritime safety and development of the nation’s maritime sector are the core issues on the agenda of Jamoh for the nation’s maritime sector.
The NIMASA Director General was said to assured the Bayelsa governor that based on his demand he would facilitate ‘’the incorporation of the state in the ongoing efforts to integrate the maritime domain awareness facilities of the relevant maritime stakeholders including the agency C4i, Nigerian Navy Falcon’s Eye, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, C3i and the i247 of the Mohammed Adamu led Nigerian Police Force, NPF.
Philip Kyanet, a Deputy Director and he agency Head of Corporate Communications who was said to be privy to the discussion between Diri, south –south state governor and the agency had issued a Statement swhich clearly shows that the governor left the agncy premises with a very good package for the of the state and which should embolden him to intensify efforts in developing the state maritime potentials.
Acording to Kyanet, the NIMASA head of Corporate Communications, Jamoh, the Director General , may have gladdened the heart of the governor when he told him point blank that , ‘’ Bayelsa state holds the key to the growth of the nation’s economy as a huge part of the nation’s Coastline falls within the state’’.
One issue of the removal of wrecks raised by the governor in his discussion with the Management, the agency spokesperson disclosed that ‘’thankfully , the issue of removal such ship wrecks had been sorted out , stating that ‘’the agency had concluded the marking and identification of all the wrecks derelicts across the country for removal ‘’, an indication that it may not only be in Bayelsa state that ship wrecks are noticeable in the waters.
Although, the governor may have left NIMASA a happy person by extracting a promise from the agency Director General who had ‘’ assured him of their support in terms of development of the state maritime growth ‘’ as well as look into the area of expanding its Operational office in order to have more presence in the state’’, he was said to have remained grateful to Jamoh and his Management for all the promises made.
Indeed, the governor may have come and gone, but the historic visit still remained a topical issue in the mind of the Staff. Where ever two or three members of Staff meet both within and outside Lagos, I the Bayelsa state governor’s visit to the agency had dominated their talks which had put it above all the other agencies under the under the Federal misistry of Transport under the close watch of Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state .