…As NIMASA DG Says Nigerian Waters are now Safer for Navigation
Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh (2nd left), flanked by Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Barr. Victor Ochei (left), Executive Director, Finance and Administration Hon. Chudi Offodile (2nd right) and Executive Director, Operations, Shehu Ahmed, during the Director-General’s engagement with Maritime Editors in Lagos
As part of measures to lend credence to the fact that Nigerian waterways are getting safer and being rid of criminalities, the prosecution of suspected pirates, arrested within the 100 days of the Dr Bashir Jamoh – led new management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), is to start this week.
With intelligence support from NIMASA ,the Nigerian Navy had arrested the pirates recently, ,while their trial will be the first, under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, signed last year, by President Muhammadu Buhari. The law made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa to have a stand-alone antipiracy legislation.
The Director General of NIMASA who made the revelation while reeling out his management’s achievements in the last three months in an engagement with the Maritime Editors in Lagos , said the Agency was mounting a spirited campaign to root out piracy and armed robbery in the country’s waters.
He said fighting crime with intelligence and technology had been the hallmark of his administration in the battle against piracy since its management , came on board three months ago.
Jamoh disclosed that Nigeria’s waters were now safer for navigation, as the proactive approach of NIMASA to safety and security at sea had started yielding fruits adding that , this is evidenced in the multiple arrests of suspected pirates in the second quarter of the year.
Members of the Fourth Estate, who were at the briefings, pledged their full support for the Agency’s efforts to get rid of the pernicious obstacles to safe and secure navigation in the country’s waters.
Jamoh, who launched a three-point agenda focused on Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Shipping Development, with the acronym 3s, on assumption of office, stated that “Collapsing our agenda into security, safety and shipping development has given us a bird’s-eye view of the challenges inherent in our sector’’.
The Director General stated that NIMASA’s strategy of nipping piracy in the bud, is yielding positive fruit, adding , this explains why the Navy and the Police have arrested a total of 27 suspected pirates in the last two months.
He added, “Our findings have revealed that these criminals work with the cooperation of international allies and that is what makes them sophisticated. We have set out to tackle them through intelligence gathering and collaboration with relevant stakeholders. Our recent arrests have shown the international community that we are not handling illegalities in our waters with kid gloves.”
He expressed delight in the changing international opinion on safety and security in Nigerian waters, as seen in a recent congratulatory letter by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO} to Nigeria for its zeal to make the country’s waters safe and secure.
NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy have also recently been getting commendations for their efforts from other sources to ensure security in the country’s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
On the issue of provision of incentives for stakeholders in the maritime sector, the Director-General revealed that NIMASA had sent a proposal to the Federal Government with the hope that the request would be approved.
As it concerns the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) , he said the Ministry of Transportation is also putting final touches to arrangements for its disbursement ,stressing that operators in the maritime industry would begin to access the fund by October this year.
According to him, “We have made proposals to President Muhammadu Buhari through the Honourable Minister of Transportation for approval to grant different kinds of incentives that would help us grow the industry. We are also working to ensure the disbursement of the CVFF. We believe that other sectors, like manufacturing and aviation, have leveraged on this sort of incentive to grow and that is the reason we are also looking in that direction.”
Jamoh said the sector had the potential to exponentially grow the Nigerian economy, given the enormous flora and fauna in the maritime environment, besides mineral resources and shipping activities.He also spoke on the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), adding that it is being redesigned to make it more effective.
He appealed to the media to ensure adequate and fair reportage of the activities of NIMASA, Nigeria’s maritime industry regulatory agency, in order to properly inform and educate the public.
Speaking during the engagements, President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isah, said the media was willing to support NIMASA to achieve its mandate adding that the success of the Agency was vital to the whole country. He urged his colleagues to give more attention to maritime in their reports.