The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA has said that the hosting of the Association of African Maritime Administrations AAMA, would among other benefits enhance Nigeria’s dream of emerging a port of destination for countries in the West and Central African sub-region.

NIMASA in conjunction with the International Maritime Organisation IMO is organising the 3rd AAMA Conferences slated for April 22, 2017 in Abuja, with the theme: “Sustainable Use of Africa’s Oceans and Seas”, which would be declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, which is expected to draw a roadmap for sustainable future work plans of the association.

Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who spoke during a world media conference in Lagos, Tuesday as part of activities marking the one-year anniversary of the new management, noted that the conference is in line with the IMO policy of assisting and enhancing the capacity of Maritime Administrations in Africa in the adherence and implementation of its instruments.

According to him, the hosting of the conference, which is also in line with the policy of rebranding the agency, is an initiative of the Peterside-led management, designed to inject a breath of fresh air to the NIMASA brand.

“The desire of the current management is to transform the agency into the foremost maritime administration in Africa, which was also informed by the need to rebrand it to align with other foremost maritime administrations in the world”.

“The theme is against the backdrop of the African Union’s declaration of year 2015-2025 as the Decade of African Seas and Oceans. We view hosting AAMA as part of our drive to reposition the Nigerian maritime industry, thereby making Nigeria a force to be reckoned with again, globally”, the DG also said.

He noted that apart from the immediate benefits of having maritime administrations in Africa converge in Nigeria, the multiplier effect will go a long way to enhance Nigeria’s chances to return to the category C of the Council of, adding that the President has already given his nod in this direction.

It was further gathered that President Buhari would on April 20, 2017, unveil the new NIMASA brand, which coincides with the hosting of AAMA.

Maritime experts also believe that the successful hosting of the conference in Nigeria would further boost her rating among comity of maritime nations and boost confidence in her port system, thereby increasing her chances of emerging hub port for the region.

Recall that the second Heads of African Maritime Administration Conference was hosted by South Africa in Sandton, even as Nigeria, which was designated to host the 2014 edition could not.

The DG, who briefed the media on the reforms carried out by the management in the last 12 months, noted that as a regulatory and enforcement agency, NIMASA is committed to ensuring that it accomplishes its core mandate in a way that serves the best interest of all Nigerians within a dynamic and complex economic environment.

The agency has restated its commitment to ensuring that the maritime environment is conducive for more Nigerians to come on board, a development that made it embark on some reforms, which are already yielding results.

“About one year ago when we assumed office, we discovered that NIMASA was still struggling with the framework of the two parastatals the defunct National Maritime Authority NMA and the Joint Maritime Industrial Council IOMALIC that had been merged to form NIMASA. This conflict of identity was inevitable, as the two previous bodies had been separate entities with peculiar objectives, business processes and operational complexities”.

“To address this, we set about what we christened the three R model, which is to Reform, Restructure and Reposition the agency for the new roles and responsibilities within our core mandate”, the DG said.

In line with this, the management developed a strategic document which has short, medium and long term components to serve as our road map. This document has been approved by the board of directors.

On the achievements so far Peterside said: “Within our first year in office, the management ensured the promotion of staff particularly those into management cadre. This was a legacy achievement because this type of promotion had only happened once, in 2007, close to a decade ago”

“We have also injected a completely new work ethic and energy in the agency by creating a smart vision, mission statement and core values. We have also introduced knowledge transfer sessions to improve on internal capacity at minimal cost. One major part of our reforms at NIMASA has also been the restructuring of the agency’s operation, leading to devolution of powers to the zonal offices”