NIMASA,NCC, Closes Rank To Developing Submarine Cable Regulation Framework  In Nigeria

By Stephen Ubanna

 Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, who have carved a niche for himself in the nation’s maritime industry appears to have endeared himself to Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, of other government agencies that actually want to collaborate with him I the discharge of their duties in their various areas of jurisdictions.

At a recent meeting between officials of the maritime regulatory agency and the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, under the close watch of Prof. Umar Garba Dambata,  Chaired by the NIMASA, boss, the two government  agencies were said to have agreed to close ranks  ‘’to developing  a ‘’regulatory framework and operational guidelines for  Submarine  Cable and Pipeline Operators in Nigeria’’.

 The meeting was said to have been attended by Dasuki Arabi, Director General of Bureau of Public Service Reforms, BPSR, officials of the Federal ministry of Environment and Representatives of Submarine Cable operators in Nigeria. The NIMASA, CEO,  may have taken advantage of  the meeting to restate the agency’s  commitment   ‘’to the ease of doing business in Nigeria while implementing the International Conventions that past and present Nigerian government have ratified and domesticated’’.

 The NIMASA helmsman had said that since Nigeria, has become a major destination for global Communications players, ‘’the time has come to prevent unregulated underwater cable laying, which might become hazardous to ocean going vessels in Nigerian waters’’.

Jamoh: DG, NIMASA

An aggrieved Jamoh, had confirmed that ‘’laying of marine cable has been ongoing for over two decades in Nigerian waters unregulated’’. He had said that the agency was encouraged this time around to regulate the laying of cables in Nigeria waters ‘’to ensure safety of Navigation of vessels in Nigerian waters with all these underwater cables being laid’’.

He may have gladdened the heart of  industry stakeholders  when he disclosed  that NIMASA is actually the agency   developing  the guidelines  ‘’to regulate  marine cable  operators  in line with the provisions  of the  United Nations, Convention  on the Law  of the Sea, UNCLOS, which was said to have been ratified  by the Federal Government  and now being implemented by the agency. He disclosed that the agency has to consult the relevant agencies, because where the responsibility of the agency stops, might be where the responsibility of another agency might start.  This may have informed why the meeting the agency and NCC as part of the inter-agency collaboration to avert a potential challenge for the country in the future. 

TJamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that ‘’collaboration is the key  component  of ease  of doing business in the best interest  of Nigeria’’, promising ‘’to  work closely with NCC, to achieve the stated objectives’’.

Note that the collaboration between the agency and the Nigerian Navy, under the leadership of Vice Admiral, Awwal Zubairu Gambo,  in the fight against piracy activities in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, has forced the Pirates underground as  those who could not stand the superior fire from the Naval personnel have relocated to Ghana, Togo and the Central African  countries of Cameroon, Congo and Gabon.

This may have been made possible as  the Jamoh  led NIMASA Management  has handed over  the operation and maintenance of the sea assets  of the FG, procured  with $195 million and delivered by   by the Israeli security firm , HLSI, Security Systems and Technologies between 2020 and 2022. The Assets included 16 Armoured vehicles, for coastal patrol, 17 Intervention Boats, two Special Mission Vessels, SMV, DB Abuja and DB Lagos.

The Nigerian Airforce, NAF, which has Air Marshall Isiaka Oladayo Amaoo, was saddled with the responsibility to operate and maintain the air Assets, which included   two Special Mission aircrafts, three Helicopters and four unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs.

Given the collaboration between the agency and the Vice Admiral Gambo led Navy, particular,the agencyhad witnessed only  one incident of Pirates attacks  in Nigerian waters  and the Gulf of Guinea  in May 2022 but as at the end of the year, six incidents of pirates attack were recorded in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea compared to 35 cases in 2020.

Jamoh is optimistic that with the collaboration between the agency and the NCC, in regulating the laying underwater cables in Nigerian waters, shipping companies, both local and foreign, have no cause to worry about the safety of their ocean going vessels. The two agencies of government, NIMASA and NCC, wee said to have reached a working agreement at the pre-Audit meeting on Submarine cable regulations.

With the agreement reached, the NIMASA, Director General was said to have notified the submarine and cable operators in Nigeria of a soon to be implemented regulatory guidelines in line with the provisions of UNCLOS.

Dambatta, Executive Vice Chairman,, NCC, who was said to have been represented at the all-important meeting  with NIMASA officials , by Efosa Idehen, the agency  Director , Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement  had said that the stakeholders  dialogue strategy  adopted by NIMASA, in developing   guidelines  for laying of submarine cables  would ‘’ensure  a win-win  situation.

 The NCC, Director, may have spoken the mind of the Executive Vice Chairman, when he urged the Jamoh led Management of NIMASA, to include Representatives of the ministry of Justice, in the working agreement between the two parties, which was said to have been immediately granted by him.

Perhaps, to avoid any crack in the agreement that had been reached by the two agencies of government,  the  two parties were said to have agreed ‘’to identify and resolve  areas of likely regulatory overlaps, by  ensuring  a regulatory  framework  based on consultations  to engender attainment  of the country’s digital  economy transformation.

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