When Dr. Bashir Jamoh took over as Director General NIMASA many stakeholders saw it as a healthy development as he has grown through the system. As a maritime practitioner, Jamoh knew where the shoe pitches. There has been unhealthy rivalry among the various federal agencies charged with the responsibility of managing the Nigerian maritime domain. This rivalry resulted in non cooperation of the agencies and non performance giving rise to insecurity in the water ways and maritime space. As soon as Jamoh took office, he sought the cooperation of all agencies in the maritime sector as well as those in security sector of the nation economy. In his view, it was necessary for the agencies to cooperate in order to reduce the level of piracy that was giving the nation a very bad image. “What ever happened in the Gulf of Guinea was attributed to Nigeria” he said.
Jamoh took it upon himself to bring NIMASA, Shippers’s Council, Navy, Police, Customs and the armed forces to work together and collaborate to ensure that the Nigeria maritime space is safe. His unique approach has started to yield dividend as the level of piracy has dropped lower and the International Maritime Organisation has commended Nigeria for the success in reducing the level of piracy in its high seas. Giving a brief on the success achieved by NIMASA in 2021, Dr. Bashir Jamoh said that there was an increase of 43.6% in condition survey for Flag Registration by the Agency in year 2021 as against the performance in year 2020. NIMASA he said also recorded an improved Port State Control (PSC) implementation with 24.2% higher than the PSC inspections of year 2020. Dr. Jamoh said that despite the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Agency ensured improved Port and Flag State Administration in accordance with the safety requirements of the Merchant Shipping Act 2007.
A breakdown of the figures shows that in 2020, the Agency carried out condition survey of vessels under Flag Registration for 276 vessels, while in 2021, the figure increased to 489, representing a 43.6% improvement. Port State Control implementation by NIMASA in year 2021 was assessed onboard 673 vessels which was a marked improvement on the 510 Vessels Boarded for Port State inspection in year 2020 representing a 24.2% increment. Jamoh said that the Agency reactivated the online portal for stakeholders to verify Nigerian Certificate(s) of Competency CoC from any part of the world. “The online certificate verification platform was reactivated last year to reduce falsification of Nigerian Seafarers Certificate and enhance the employment of Nigerian Seafarers. “we experienced rejection of Nigerian Seafarers both locally and internationally and the Agency decided to introduce the online certificate verification platform which allows shipowners to easily authenticate CoC’s from the comfort of their electronic devices.”
While raising concern over the percentage of failures recorded for Nigerian seafarers who sat for the Certificate of Competency examination last year, Dr Jamoh announced that the Agency has commenced investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the trend with a view to addressing it holistically. In year 2021, NIMASA signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU with the Maritime Transport Coordination Center (MTCC), for capacity development to address the need for reduction of Green House Gas emission in the maritime industry with emphasis on achieving 0.5% Sulphur Oxide in Bunker fuel. “our laboratory is already completed and we hope to enter a public private partnership arrangement this year to manage the laboratory for optimal utilisation. The Agency also carried out 20 marine accident investigations in 2021, as against 18 in the year 2020, while also enforcing safety regulations on barges and tugboats under the code name; Operation Sting Ray.
The NIMASA helmsman revealed further that the Agency took delivery of more Deep Blue Project Assets, which was flagged-off by President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that some of these assets have been deployed to the Nigerian Navy for its operational use. Accordingly, he said “the Agency is collaborating with major international stakeholders in the maritime sector in other to entrench coordinated response to piracy and other criminalities on the Nigerian waters and prompt reportage and escalation of marine incidences to where action is most expected and to provide navigational advisory to mariners”, Jamoh added. Speaking further, He noted the Agency’s commitment to improved strategic collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Airforce, the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Army and the office of the National Security Adviser. This move, Jamoh noted has helped to reduce piracy attacks off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, as there were no single attack on Nigerian waters in the 3rd quarter of 2021, as reported by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
Dr Jamoh also disclosed that the Deep Blue Project is enjoying international support as the Korean Government has donated a vessel to support the project. He also disclosed that the Regional Maritime Awareness Center (RMAC), is being upgraded to SEA VISION to allow for monitoring of vessels along West and Central Central Africa Region. In a related development, the NIMASA DG also hinted that the Agency’s contribution to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government, increased from figures hovering around 31 billion in 2020 to about 37 billion in year 2021.
Dr. Jamoh used the opportunity to appreciate the media for their objective reportage and constructive criticism which he said is good for the industry and Nigeria as a whole. He further assured that in 2022, the Agency would consolidate on the gains of the past years, with improved collaboration with all stakeholders in the industry, aimed at utilising ocean-based resources for the good of the Nigerian economy.
Between January and December 2021, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) contributed N37,691,630,450.02 (N37.6b) to the federation account, compared with N31, 839,917,978.20. (N31.8b) within same period in 2020. “The year 2021 saw the agency paying to the federal government N37,691,630,450.02 and this is from levies and others.” The Agency’s target is to attain more than N37billion in 2022: “We believe the N37 billion generated is not our own milestone, we are working hard to ensure we get to the promise land.”