By Stephen Ubanna
Until Bashir Jamoh’s appointment as the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMA, on March 10, 2020, by President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria had been listed by the International shipping Companies as one of the worst nations in maritime activities.
The situation w so bad as most ship owners refused to allow their vessels carry cargoes to Nigeria for fear of being attacked in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea by Pirates and sea robbers. This may have encouraged Jamoh and his Management Team from the onset to go back to the drawing board to restrategise to change the narrative with the overwhelming support of the Katsina state born Nigerian President and the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, under the close watch of Kitack Lim.
The NIMASA, Director Gneral, may have taken advantage of the Presidential Telecommunications Team, briefing at the Villa, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, recently, to declare that such criminal activities ‘’no longer exist in Nigerian waters or the Gulf of Guinea’’, stressing that the nation’s territorial waters are now safer for ocean-going vessels than can be imagined by any person both within and outside the country’’.
He was said to have told those at the Presidential Telecommunication briefing that since March, 2021, and now, that there had not been any piracy attack on any ocean-going vessel has been recorded because of the inter-agency Collaboration which have tightened up security in Nigerian waters.
This is evident going by the number vessels from the Asian countries of China, India, South Korea and the North American country of the United States, including United Kingdom, UK, and other trading partners, that call at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML and the south east port of Onne, on a daily basis, showing the cancellation of the stigma placed on Nigeria as the most dangerous waters in the world.
An elated, Jamoh, the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had confirmed that ‘’Nigeria has exited the list of countries with the worst form of Pirate activities for the first time in March, 2022’’. Given reasons why the agency could that much in its anti-piracy operations over the last two years, Jamoh, had said that they established ‘’a Joint Industry Working Group to open our system to the international community, which they did. Members of the Industry Working Group, were said to have ma made the comity of nations to understand that Nigeria is not the only the country in the world where Pirates or sea robbers operate, insisting that there was no basis listing Nigeria as one of the countries with the worst form of Piracy activities.
An informed source told The Value News that the group, and all the industry stakeholders, meet every month to discuss the level of security achieved in the nation’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea. Based on the performance of the Joint Working Group, may have informed why the Maritime Regulatory agency had signed a working agreement with past and present Leadership of Nigerian Navy and the International Coordinating Centre, Yaounde, Capital of the Central African country of Cameroon, ostensibly ‘’to address and discuss on what to do with the security of the nation’s maritime domain and entire Gulf of Guinea region.
The NIMASA, boss, had stated further that the agency anti-piracy operations was strengthened with the introduction of the Deep Blue Project by the Nigerian President which had made it possible for the agency to procure various Platforms.
The procurement of the Platforms was said to have been possible with the engagement of an Israeli security Company, HLSI Systems and Technologies Limited, in 2017, at a contract sum of N195 billion, to procure and deliver some security equipment to the maritime security agency to sustain its anti-piracy war, across the Nigerian Maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
Between 2020 and now, the Israeli firm, was said to have delivered 17 Interception Boats, 16 armoured vehicles, meant for Costal patrols, Two Special ,Mission Vessels, which according to the NIMASA, helmsman, have the capacity of dynamic positioning as it can enter into the Creeks and search for the Pirates and sea thieves. He noted that the vessels, which are currently being managed and operated by Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo , led Nigerian Navy, can be kept at the sea for a number of days without running out of steam due to diesel problem.
The Israeli firm was said to have equally delivered to the agency Two Special Mission aircrafts that was said to have been fitted with a 24/7 special cameras which an insider said could be used to film any location or environment and send signals immediately to Naval personnel on Patrol and an additional three Helicopters including four unmanned aerial vehicles which are being operated and maintained by `Air Marshal Oladayo Olayinka led Nigeria Air Force, NAF.
The impressive performance of Jamoh led NIMASA, in its anti-piracy war, which had also been acknowledged by Muazu, Jaji Sambo, minister of Transportation, may have encouraged the South Korea Authorities, to make provision for one vessel to support the agency which Jamoh said that the country would need about $1.4 million to sail it to the country. It could not be ascertained whether Jamoh and his agency have taken delivery of the vessel or not.
The NIMAA, CEO, was said to have also taken the opportunity provided by the Presidential Telecommunication briefing to give an insight of the agency introduction of the concept of marine litter and plastic action plan through which ‘’wastes are discarded like empty water bottles and sachets of water which , analysts had said are not harmful to aquatic lives.
The agency may not have gone ahead to implement its policy of maritime litter and Plastic action plan without the approval of the IMO, an indications that the Leadership of the United Nation ,UN’s Maritime agency, have given their support to the agency to do so.
While Jamoh , has been acknowledged by Industry operators in Nigeria as a performer, the Leadership of many African countries Regulatory Authorities see him as a role model and were said to have been reading to him for advice.