Some of the newly acquired platforms and staff ferries

Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, yesterday broke his silence over the true state of the agency when he assumed office about three years ago, saying he did not inherit a single operational patrol vessel to aid the core functions of the agency.

NIMASA, created by the NIMASA Act 2007, the agency’s core mandate as the country’s Maritime Administration is to ensure safety and security on the nation’s maritime domain, perform port state and flag regulation functions, enhance shipping development as well as building capacity, among several others.

From left: DG, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Chairman, House Committee on Education and Maritime Services, Linda Ikpeazu, Minister of Transport, Mu’ azu Sambo, Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Maritime, Tolu Odebiyi and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Dr. Magdalene Ajani shortly after the official launch of the vessels, administrative building etc in Apapa, Lagos, Sunday.

Jamoh who spoke at the official launch of five new patrol and security boats, five refurbished search and rescue/pollution control boats, a search and rescue clinic as well as the remodeled administrative building within its Maritime Resource Development Centre located at Kirikiri, Lagos, Sunday, said there was no functional patrol platform in the agency when he assumed office on March 10, 2020 in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic. Also commissioned were five brand new ferries for easy movement of the members of staff of the agency.

He further disclosed that there were however a few non-functional patrol vessels, some of which were inherited from the NIMASA-Global West Vessel partnership, which the new management refurbished and kicked off with, adding that the management under his watch has grown the patrol vessel fleet from zero-to 14 at present

He disclosed that the high capacity five brand new patrol vessels, all of which are bullet-proof were built by Arisa Shipyard in Spain and were borne out of the need to ensure safety and security within the country’s inland ways, which is also crucial to the agency meeting its funding needs, since the three per cent surcharge paid by vessels that call at the nation’s seaports constitute a major source of its funding.

He further noted that the refurbishment of the five other search and rescue/pollution control vessels was in reaction to the increasing cases of oil theft, which apart from leading to loss of huge revenue to the government, constitutes a serious danger to shipping due to problems associated with pollution.

The NIMASA –boss insists that in addition to drastically reducing piracy not only in Nigeria but also across the Gulf of Guinea through the Integrated National Waterways Security also called the Deep Blue Security Project, the agency is equally focused on ensuring peace and tranquility within its inland waters.

He said: “We have from the very beginning of our administration reckoned that attaining a Blue Economy is pivotal to the growth and development of the nation. It was equally important that while we had our vision set on achieving something great, we simultaneously took cognisance of the damaging impact that piracy, kidnapping of seafarers, smuggling, illegal oil bunkering, robbery at sea and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing has had on our maritime profile.

“The Gulf of Guinea which Nigeria is a major stakeholder was notorious for piratical attacks and used to be referred to as the ‘world’s hotspot’ for piracy. The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2634 which called for a crackdown on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

“By the year 2022, cases of piracy and other maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea had significantly reduced as only about 3 cases of piracy were recorded while none of the cases was attributable to Nigeria. The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center (IMB PRC) regarded this as a positive trend. This equally meant that the year 2022 was a successful year for Nigeria in the fight against piracy and other maritime crime and same should be regarded as a milestone for the Buhari-led administration. The success of 2022 can only be credited to the tremendous effort of the Federal Government in terms of provision of infrastructures which is best enveloped as the Deep Blue Project.”

He thanked President Muhammadu, Minister of Transport, Mu’azu Sambo, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Dr. Magdalene Ajani and the two maritime committees of the 9th National Assembly as well as members of staff of the agency for their support and cooperation without which these achievements would not have been possible.    

Meanwhile, the Minister of Transport, who officially inaugurated the new maritime assets pledged the continued support of the ministry to all the agencies under its supervision with a view to improving service delivery to both the global and Nigerian maritime community.

He further commended the Governing Board, management and staffers of NIMASA for their efforts in acquiring these huge assets and enjoined to also imbibe the requisite maintenance culture so that such assets are preserved for use for a long time.