Despite that Dr Dakuku Peterside became the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) just over a year ago, he has nevertheless enunciated measures that have repositioned the organisation and made it to have a more positive impact on the maritime sector and the economy, says Shola Fadeyi in this write- up.
The ongoing management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) led by Dr Dakuku Peterside as the Director General has indeed proved right the aphorism, which says it is not how long but how well, sequel to the very meaningful contributions it has made to the development of the Agency, the maritime sector and the economy within about 15 months of its existence.
The general believe in the maritime sector is that Dr Peterside has to a large extent delivered on his pledge on assumption of office, to harness the vast potential available in NIMASA to make Nigeria a maritime hub in the West and Central Africa sub- region for the fact that he has focused majorly on the implementation of the agency’s core mandate.
Stakeholders are of the view that he has reasonably succeeded at promoting the development of indigenous capacity in international and coastal shipping as well as effectively regulated the maritime industry through the three- year medium term strategic growth plan of reformation, restructuring and repositioning of the agency and the maritime sector which he enunciated in July last year.
Apart from the fact that the blueprint was in line with the ‘change’ agenda of the President Buhari’s administration meant to diversify Nigeria’s economy, the fact of its success was brought to the fore when the President himself recently acknowledged the agency’s performance under Dr Peterside , especially his fight against sea piracy through interagency cooperation .
Hosting of AAMA/ Rebranding of NIMASA
Thus President Buhari and maritime experts were agreed that the very modest contributions which the NIMASA DG has made to the development of the agency and the maritime sector informed Nigeria’s hosting of the Association of Africa’s Maritime Administrators(AAMA) Conference in Abuja recently while the subsequent election of Peterside was an affirmation of his achievements in NIMASA.
While the rebranding of the agency , through the unveiling of its new logo in Abuja by President Buhari has infused a new dose of energy into the NIMASA brand, the multiplier effect of the hosting has also contributed largely to enhance the chances of Nigeria’s to return to Council at IMO at the Category C level a position to which NIMASA has received the approval of the Presidency to seek election into.
Despite that he became the Director General at a time when the number of visiting vessels and volume of cargoes have reduced sharply due to recession and fiscal policies , he has been able to administer the agency effectively for the fact that he has drawn from his wealth of experience in politics and the legislature, utilized his array of connections in political circles as well his managerial acumen and intelligence.
This it is believed has explained his successes in the areas of human capacity building for the agency’s personnel, vis avis the implementation of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP),Search and Rescue, the development of shipping , maritime security and safety, Anti – Piracy, implementation of the international ship and port security (ISPS) Code and the Cabotage Act.
The management has also been able to control and prevent maritime pollution carried out certification, employment and welfare of maritime labour, perform port and flag state duties, established the procedure for the implementation of all international conventions on maritime , labour , security and safety to which Nigeria is a party as well as discharge its air and coastal surveillance effectively.
On assumption of office , it had immediately introduced a new work ethics , focused on the training and retraining of the personnel , the improvement of their welfare across board and the promotions of all categories of workers including those on management level.All these and such promotions which last took place 10 years ago boosted their output and impacted on the agency’s contributions to the maritime sector and the economy..
NSDP/ Seatime Training
In line with the vision of the current management to produce a crop of well trained manpower for the maritime sector which will in turn earn scarce foreign exchange for the country, it has repackaged the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) and ensured that all the beneficiaries of the scheme especially those of them who are currently in school have access to the vital seatime training ,
It has done this to give the cadets global recognition and facilitate their being employed. NIMASA is already discussing with the relevant maritime institutions in Egypt and Europe to ensure that the Nigerian cadets who are beneficiaries of the NSDP start their seatime training. As a matter of fact a total of 1,045 of the students have graduated out of the 2,500 the agency is sponsoring.
In the realm of revenue generation, much as the current management of the agency has had it as a policy to ensure its personnel do not compromise at ensuring safety of vessels coming or leaving Nigerian shores because of the quest to make money for the organization, the agency has nevertheless been very up and doing at remitting funds into the federal government coffers .
While the current management in the past one year made significant contributions to the consolidated revenue fund in its one year of existence, it is already working extra hard to double it by increasing its revenue avenues , plug loopholes, enhance compliance to ensure it provides more money for government to fund its series of projects and confirm its contributions to economic development.
Billing of Pipelines/ Sea Protection Levy Gazette
To enhance revenue generation, the management has commenced the billing of pipelines, oil rigs and FPSOs through the exploitation of the Statutory provisions of the Sea Protection Levy Gazette.
A significant part of the ongoing reforms at NIMASA has been the restructuring of the Agencies operation, under which power is being devolved to the zonal offices, a development which has reduced red tapism to a large extent and facilitated the time of doing business with the agency approval of the board of directors to erect magnificent edifices in its eastern zonal offices in Port Harcourt and Western Zonal offices in Warri among other places.
The NIMASA has made a giant strides in area of the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) International Ship and Ports Facility(ISPS) Code , which the agency is the Designated Authority on behalf of Nigeria which now has over 80 per cent compliance rate with the Code as nearly 145 ports in the country are now fully compliant from just 13 in 2005 when it took over the function.
While the United States Coast Guard Team which visited Nigeria recently has variously lauded NIMASA over its efforts on the implementation of the Code, many stakeholders have also commended the agency. The implication of the high compliance rate is that terminals are now safer and more reliable to do business and able to contribute more revenue to the economy.
Highly impressed by the great strides of the current NIMASA management on the implementation of its reformation agenda, the President of the Nigerian Chamber of Shippers(NCS) , Mr Andy Isichei among many other stakeholders had to commend the organization on its efforts towards the repositioning of the agency and the maritime sector which has made it to contribute more to economic development.
Maritime Safety/ Search and Rescue
Also the various commendable efforts which the current management has made it to increase maritime security and safety in the Gulf of Guinea especially as it pertains to reduction in cases of piracy..The revival of the activities of the Search and Rescue Committee of nine member States under Nigeria, SAR region which has seen the agency organizing two sub regional technical Committee meetings has increased the agency’s capacity to respond to distress calls.
Surveillance of Maritime Domain/ Anti- Piracy Bill
Additionally, the agency’s quest to have a safer maritime domain has also made it to champion an anti – piracy bill which it hopes to pursue to the National Assembly to become an Act this year .The quest to enhance safety of vessels cum search and rescue has also made it possible for it to increase the number of search and rescue marshals from 100 to 1000 while it will soon acquire assets to be deployed in strategic locations in Nigeria.
Furthermore, as part of measures for effective monitoring of vessels, NIMASA has upgraded its surveillance system to 24 hours , a development which makes it to capture any vessel in the Nigerian Maritime Domain irrespective of weather conditions. This approach has helped the agency to block revenue leakages and enhance its revenue profile since all vessels are now captured for billing.It has also integrated surveillance data with billing control information thus reducing billing time significantly.
Building of Indigenous Capacity
In line with NIMASA’s mandate to promote the development of indigenous commercial shipping in international and coastal shipping trade, the management has commenced the strict enforcement of Sections 36 and 37 of the NIMASA Act 2017 meant to achieve this purpose. It is already poised to take the matter to the highest legislative and executive arms of government to realize this objective.
Switch of Trade Term from FOB to CIF
To conserve Foreign exchange for Nigeria on the lifting of wet cargo, through which the country’s crude oil is now carried at Free on Board (FOB) , the management is ensuring that such cargoes are now carried in Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) which will make Nigeria to participate in crude oil lifting , cargo insurance and create jobs for cadets and other Nigerians.it will soon start to reach out to relevant agencies of government in this direction as well as do a memo to the Federal Executive Council.
The management is working towards 100 per cent compliance with the Cabotage Act in the nearest future in the areas of the number of vessels doing business in Nigeria waters and flying the National Flag , which has risen to 60 per cent from less than 3 per cent in 2003 as well as an increase of 20 per cent in the building of Cabotage vessels compared to when it was dominated by foreigners.
Currently about 400 vessels flying Nigerian Flag are now registered with NIMASA compared to less than about half as at 2015 while the management is also making efforts to finally disburse the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) which will enhance the capacity of indigenous shipping companies and boost the economy.
Modular Floating Dockyard
Not relenting in making further positive impact it is already set to take delivery of the fifth largest modular floating dockyard on the African Continent , which is expected to save Nigeria at least $100 million annually from dry docking of ships in the country instead of outside the country as done currently as well as earn FOREX for the economy through the venture.
Wrecks and Derelicts / International Conventions
The management has also been up and doing in the enforcement of international conventions and regulations to which Nigeria is a party , performed creditably well in the area of removal of wrecks and derelicts under NIMASA’s responsibility as receiver of wrecks , a development that has facilitated smooth sailing of vessels into Nigeria’s waters.
As Dr Peterside continues to lead the management of the NIMASA to greater strides in the realization of the purposes and objectives of the organization , the consensus in the shipping sector is that its administration is already increasing the contributions of the agency to the maritime sector and the economy as well as making Nigeria to be a force to be reckoned with in the global maritime circle.
Shola Fadeyi , a Lagos based journalist is the Publisher of Marine&Economy , a Print & online Publication as well as MD , Simofad Communications Limited.