3 Years of Stewardship: How Jamoh- Led Management Has Transformed NIMASA, Maritime

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NIMASA DG, Dr Bashir Jamoh

In this write- up, SHOLA FADEYI posits that the three years of Dr Bashir Jamoh , so far ,  as the Director General  of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NMASA) have  witnessed the improvement of the fortunes of the agency and the Maritime sector in the realms of  Shipping Development, Maritime Security and Maritime Safety , nay other key areas.

 

Against the backdrop of the  series of novel measures and reforms, which the Dr Bashir Jamoh- led management has enunciated, since it came on board in the last three years , it is indeed indubitable that it has made positive impact  on the development of the Nigerian Maritime Administration(NIMASA) , the maritime sector and the economy.

Mandate

Consequently , this has paved way for the  strings of successes  it has recorded in its mandate of  Maritime Administration, in the areas of shipping development,  Maritime Safety and Maritime  Security  , which have formed the plank of the administration.

 

Blue Economy

Coincidentally, the  triple areas the aforementioned triple areas , happened to be   those  that have been responsible  for the achievement of the  Blue Economy initiative of the NIMASA. aimed at making maritime to contribute  more positively to the Federal Government’s economic diversification.

 

The idea is that, it is when the country’s waters  are secured and free of all sorts of criminalities that the  blue economy, which deals  with ‘the totality of all economic activities  associated with the oceans, seas, harbors, ports, and coastal zones’ ,can make the desired contributions to the overall development of the nation’s economy.

Activities

Thus it is for the need to achieve the three mentioned key areas of Maritime Security, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development that the  management  has had to base its activities on  matters concerning , Search and  Rescue , Protection of Marine Environment, Anti- piracy , Clearing of wrecks and  derelicts ,  Deep Blue  Project and Strengthening  of  Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) with relevant agencies.

Reforms

Others include unification of  the functions of the maritime communication architecture i , Capacity Building of Personnel , Anti- Pollution Measures ,Cabotage Implementation, Plan to Disburse the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), Renewal of Collaboration with relevant stakeholders,  Review of the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) among others.

 

In fact, Jamoh’s  emphasis on the effectiveness and efficiency of the maritime sector , made the  management to put in place a Reform Committee   as well as created a Reform  Unit in the agency  headed by a full fledged Director immediately he  assumed office in 2020,  and this is believed  to have  positively influenced the contributions he has made in the past three years.

 

However, the  consensus is that the  commendable efforts of the NIMASA  has been able to yield result due to the capacity  of the Dr Bashir Jamoh  experience  , borne out of his over 25 years of  serving in the maritime sector  as well as his academic  knowledge of  maritime , coupled with the backing of  members of  his  executive management.

MARITIME SECURITY

Removal of Nigeria’s Name from Red List of Piracy

It was then not  a surprise in the maritime sector and the economy , judging by the track record of the current NIMASA management in the area of the anti- piracy war , when the  international Maritime Bureau(IMB), removed Nigeria’s name from the red  list of countries , which are  notorious for piracy attacks , recently.

Lack of Piracy Attacks  In Nigeria for over One Year

The NIMASA management has continued to demonstrate the fact that Nigeria’s removal from the Piracy List is  never a fluke , as at  in June this 2022,  the IMO has been able to establish the fact that the country  has been free of piracy incidents from February    , 2022, and even still counting , since then, due   to the efforts of the agency.

 

The feat had actually begun  since 2021.According to Michael Howelett , a Director at IMB, 33 incidents of piracy were reported in the last quater of 2020, but  6 cases were reported in the second quarter of 2021 . The IMB report also noted that the number of kidnapped crew in the region also declined from 50 in the  last quater of 2020 to 10 in the second quarter of 2021.

 

The statistics were contained in the  second Quarter (Q2) 2021 report on the global reduction of piracy in 27 years in Nigeria, including the GoG region, where IMB  said  that  the number of kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea in the second quarter of 2021 is the lowest since Q2 of 2019.

Sustenance of anti- piracy tempo

Despite the feat,  Dr Jamoh himself  has resolved, that the need to sustain the feat would be the best approach to nip  piracy  activities and other  related  crimes in the bud , showing that the Agency is unrelenting in the fight

Commendation

Little wonder that the  IMB , the Inter national Maritime Organisation (IMO ) ,through   Kitack Lim, its  Secretary General and the   European Union E.U, via  her Senior Coordinator for the Gulf of Guinea, Amb. Nicolas Martinez have  variously  lauded NIMASA for the feat , while  the Nigerian Government through  the Ministry of Transportation has likewise commended the Agency and its Director General, for its  achievements in anti- piracy.

.    INSWPI/ Deep Blue Project

The need to further ensure lasting security on Nigerian waterways  has made Jamoh  to further the success of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure(INSWP)  also called the Deep Blue Project, under which the various assets were imported into the country.

 

NIMASA has gradually , since early 2020 been deploying the assets that were imported for that purpose to sea ,land and air  before the final deployment of the platform , after  the last  set were received in Nigeria in May this year, and finally commissioned by President Buhari on June 24,2021.

 

The  Deep Blue Project,  has three planks , namely, Importation of security equipment, training of personnel to man them and the actual deployment  of the platforms to check all forms of crimes and criminalities on waters  has been a project that the  NIMASA DG has taken very seriously for the fact that it is one of the Agency’s key mandate.

New Set of  Anti – piracy  Assets

To show that the Presidency has keen interest in the success of the anti- piracy war , it is  thus not a surprise that the Federal Government placed order for fresh platform , which NIMASA took delivery of  in May 2022 for enhanced maritime security  under the Deep Blue Project ,  .

 

The new assets include  unmanned aircraft system, 9 interceptor patrol boats and 10 armoured vehicles, have been added to the existing ones  earlier procured by the Federal Government and commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari , with the assurance that they will  improve on the gains recorded in securing the Gulf of Guinea and Nigerian maritime domain.

 Earlier Deep Blue Project Assets

The land assets include the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre (C4i) for intelligence gathering and data collection; 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol; and 600 specially trained troops for interdiction, known as Maritime Security Unit.

Before the recently procured platforms , the deep blue project had sea assets including two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats.

The air assets comprised of two Special Mission Aircraft for surveillance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); three Special Mission Helicopters for search and rescue operations; and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles amongst others.

Acquisition of High Speed Boat from Japan

To further boost the success of the Deep Blue Project, Nigeria, with the knowledge  of NIMASA  in June , 2022, signed  an Exchange of Note(E/N) with the Japanese Government, for an Economic and Social Development Programme involving the acquisition of an  High-Speed Boat, worth $2.78m  N 831,200,000 .The agreement on the high speed boat is to reinforce services for coastal security in Nigeria

Checking  Illegal Activities

The Project aims to prevent illegal activities in the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), enforce maritime regulations, enhance safety of lives at sea, and prevent illegal activities in the inland waterways. In February, 2022 the Federal Government added the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA), off the coast of Lagos, to the areas under the protection of the Deep Blue Project.

Coordination among the C4Is

Dr Jamoh has promoted co-ordination and information sharing between the C4i and the surveillance systems of other maritime agencies, including Nigerian Navy’s Falcon Eye, Nigeria Police’s i247, and the C3i, which belongs to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

 

The C4i Centre, with the primary aim of providing maritime domain awareness intelligence for informed enforcement operations and maritime safety and security interventions, has been up and running since August 2019. As the nucleus of the scheme, the C4i centre has been integrated with all the air, sea, and land platforms of the Deep Blue Project

.SPOMO ACT 2019

In fact , the faithful implementation  of thee  “Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, 2019, referred to as the anti piracy law by the NIMASA management  has also assisted in the reduction of the level criminalities on the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

The Act aims to prevent and suppress piracy, armed robbery, and any other unlawful act against a ship, aircraft, and any other maritime craft,  including fixed or floating platform, while  it provides a legal framework for the prosecution of piracy and other maritime crimes through the country’s Maritime Administration, NIMASA, and the Nigerian Navy.

Prosecution of Pirates

To lend credence to the extent of success which the management has recorded in the implementation of the anti- piracy law , it  has  secured the prosecution  of most of the  pirates it  had arrested  since 2020 , with the support of the Navy  and the Marine Police. 10 of   them  who hijacked a Chinese Vessel , FV Hai Lu Feng II in May  2020  were  jailed 12 years  each and  were asked  to pay  a sum of N10 million  a piece  by a Federal High  Court in Lagos  recently , making them serve as  deterrent to other criminals who are engaged in nefarious activities on the Nigerian waters.

Experts have thus  explained the   prosecution of the pirates as being very remarkable and significant  for the fact that ,it is a litmus test for the anti piracy law ,which  made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa to have such a stand- alone legislation for that purpose.

Training of Personnel

Thus it is in a bid to further the implementation of the anti-piracy law that the management of NIMASA within a few months   trained over 156 Judiciary officers , namely  judges of the High Court,Federal Court of Appeal , officers in the Attorney General’s Office who will be the ones handling cases pertaining to the application and interpretation of the Act.

Those who have also being trained include personnel of NIMASA, NPA  among other relevant agencies on the issue of adequate  response to distress on the waterways.

Harmonization of Communication Equipment

It is indeed commendable that it is still for the purpose of enhancing security on the waterways  that the Director General has in recent times served as a rallying point between NIMASA and other relevant agencies within and outside the maritime sector  with a view to  unifying and harmonise  the functions of the communication equipment under the control of such agencies.

This is why it has taken pains to visit and had various discussions with the Chief of Naval Staff , the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)  , the Inspector General of Police (IGP)  with a view to linking  NIMASA C4I, with the NPA’s C3i , Command, Control and Intelligence centre,  Police i247 and the Navy’s Falcon Eye or  C41 so that there would be proper synergy  to  assist the country in response to maritime security threats

Creation of Marine Intelligence Unit & MSECC

It is also for the need to improve intelligence gathering and enhance stakeholders’ communication and to ensure sustainable growth of the country’s maritime industry.

that  the management has created the Maritime Intelligence Unit and the NIMASA Maritime Stakeholders Experience Contact Centre (MSECC) .

SHIPPING DEVELOPMENT

The  Bashir –led management has also excelled in the area of shipping development , which encompasses fleet expansion, shipbuilding and ship repairs. Despite this,  it is committed  to  advancing  the frontiers of  shipping by ensuring a conducive environment for commercial shipping and encouraging more indigenous participation in the global shipping trade.

Removal of  War Risk Insurance Premium  from Nigerian Goods

Thus with the strings of achievements , which NIMASA has recorded of late in the anti- piracy war it is  hoped  that by September this year, the issue of War Risk Insurance will be addressed, when the Lloyd’s of London, coordinators of insurance surcharges on Nigerian bound cargoes,  will meet to deliberate on Nigeria’s  position paper ,which highlights the short, medium, and long term plans to sustain the achievements in its  anti- piracy war.

Seafarers Welfare

Due to the importance which the agency attaches to seafarers wlfare , which made it to consider to be almost indispensable to the world during the Covid- 19 period, when it believed they hold the key to humanity’s survival,  on a day day basis, it thus rolled out measures to boost their remunerations.

Thus over time , it has adopted measures to improve  the quality of training and certificates the agency gives to the seafarers , even as it has started to standardize the curriculum  of the country’s training institutions, in line with international standards.

Improvement In Flag and Port State Actvities

As part of its shipping development programme, the Agency has since the past two years  continued to improve on its port and flag state functions ,  which is the core of maritime safety.For instance, in 2021, it succeeded  in  inspecting a total  of 1,164  vessels as against 796 in 2020, while under its Flag State Control function,  it inspected 489 vessels  during the period, as compared to 276  in 2020

Likewise in the area of Port State Control  the agency in 2021, boarded 675 vessels as against 510 in 2020

Automation of COC Verification

Dr Jamoh Has also ensured that the ongoing automation drive in the agency m has led to the integrated use of technology in the Certificate of Occupancy (CoC) verification , which has seen a fall in manual verification by about 40 per centWreck Removal

The agency recently  deployed  high-resolution magnetometer to validate the on going wreck removal exercise of all identified wrecks listed for removal along the Badagry Creek in Lagos, even as  it took  into consideration, the impact of the entire operations on the marine environment with a view to ensuring safety of marine lives.

 

Amongst those  removed include a completely submerged Barge which was lying over 10 meters deep along the Badagry channel on coordinates 711006.1 Easting and 535294.9 Northing. The Agency has also successfully removed two other completely submerged barges beneath the water at 530924.9 Northing and 710608.3 Easting and others

Amendment of NIMASA Act 2007, Cabotage Act 2003

As part of measures to boost its shipping development mandate and to  improve the regulations    in the  maritime sector to meet the need of current realities, NIMASA through the Ministry of Transportation  has successfully gotten the House of Representatives to begin  the Amendment of the NIMASA Act 2007 and the Cabotage Act 2003.

 

It has also lobbied the House to hold a Public Hearing on the  Merchant Shipping Act, Repeal and Enactment Bill 2021, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act Repeal & Enactment Bill 2021,  and the Coastal & Inland Cabotage Amendment Bill 2020.

National Maritime Policy

In the same vein NIMASA has made significant inputs into the  comprehensive  National Maritime Policy  which is underway and which is bound to increase the level of success in the war against anti- piracy in the maritime sector .

Promotion of Barge Operations

Dr  Jamoh has   promised that the Agency will promote barge operations as an alternative   means of transportation but has   enjoined the barge operators  to brace up in the aspect of training of their members to  meet up with modern day realities and encourage professionalism in the discharge of their duties.

Disbursement of CVFF

It is in the same vein that NIMASA with the approval of the disbursement of the Fund by President Muhammadu Buhari and the authorization of the  Federal Ministry of Transportation which is its supervising Ministry ,has already met with the appointed   Primary Lending Institutions(PLIs)  for them to come out with  the guidelines for the  disbursement of the Fund.  Thus, it is expected that the fund would be disbursed before the end of the litetime of President Buhari’s administration.

Ban on Vessels without Cert

However, before the review , the need to ensure that the Cabotage Act  serves the  purpose for which it was put in  place in the first place has made the NIMASA management to ban vessels without the requisite cabotage certificate from participating in the trade in Nigeria.This is to further check the abuses that have made it impossible for local shipping companies to benefit from the local cabotage trade.

Protection of Marine Environment

The current management has also been able to demonstrate its promptness to tackling issues that threaten the marine environment, particularly going by the way it responded to  those ones that have occurred ,even within the very short time it came on stream .

For instance , in 2020, , it was able to quickly liaise  with the Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research and  NONTRAP on the issue of the dead fish that  were discovered off the coast of the Niger Delta , a development which accelerated the conduction of investigation into the matter and thus the discovery of the  rationale for the occurrence.

Enhancement of NSDP Programme

The Dr Jamoh-led management   has also boosted the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) , geared towards  the training of cadets for the benefits of Nigeria’s maritime sector  development. It  is increasing for the seafarers , opportunities of  sea time training , which  would make them employable globally and   useful to Nigeria economic development in future  through the maritime sector.

While it has ensured that  close to 500 beneficiaries of the NSDP project are gainfully employed , it secured  the placement  of about 400 of the cadets on board ship for the mandatory sea time training to make them globally competitive and employable.

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Capacity Building

As part of measures to enhance shipping development, through  capacity building, apart from the constant training  and re-training of its personnel,  locally and abroad,   the agency has taken the scheme  to the younger generation, as it visits schools for purpose of  enlightenment  as well as  donate educational materials to the schools as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR).

 

The purpose is to encourage the students,  those in the sciences, to show interest in maritime  by choosing maritime related careers, especially given the increasing role of maritime in Nigeria’s economic diversification effort.

Creation of Skilled Acquisition Centers

The  Agency  has also created skill acquisition centres across six geopolitical zones, which all have the  capacity of training younger Nigerians on different aspects of professionalism . This has  assisted in  reducing  the rate of  criminality on the nation’s  territorial waters..

Deployment of Modular Floating Dock

When fully operational, the NIMASA floating dock, which arrived Nigeria in 2018, is expected to  conserve foreign exchange, to providing employment and boosting indigenous capacity, developing shipping, and providing training exposure for students of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, which is now a University and the Maritime University, Okerenkoko.

Compliance with IMO Rule on Marine Fuels

The management has likewise taken steps  to ensure availability of marine fuels that comply with the regulation by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), limiting the sulphur in the fuel oil used on board ships to 0.50 per cent m/m (mass by mass).

Conclusion

Commendable as the strides of the current NIMASA management  has been, in its three  years of  existence, however, there has always been a very expansive room for improvement no matter , what in any sphere.This is why , Dr Jamoh as the Arrowhead,  should continue to  walk  the talk, on sustaining all the areas of his achievements so far in office , of course as it concerns the Agency’s mandate.