Eromosele Abiodun posits that the recent move by the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside to enforce the full implementation of ISPS code, Cabotage Act and redeployment of NIMASA’s top staff is an indication that better days are ahead
During the Management Performance Review (MPR) held in Lagos after his appointment, the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside declared that the management was determined to make the agency a world class, high performing organisation.
He said that the agency’s repositioning initiative was all encompassing and when concluded would be beneficial to the entire maritime sector.
The director-general said that the MPR was an avenue to assess the progress being made by the agency in terms of its reform, restructuring and repositioning drive to towards achieving its mandate.
According to him, there is no organisation that can grow without innovation and the MPR affords us a rare opportunity to assess our journey thus far.
He said that it was a rare privilege to match set goals with results and to carry out an assessment on how far the agency had gone in this journey.
“When I joined you in NIMASA, we sat down and agreed to build a world class high performance organisation. In subscribing to that, we set out to craft a medium term strategic plan which would be our roadmap. We have already started the critical elements of the things we agreed that are necessary to build a world class maritime organisation. One is the automation of our processes and to fast track this, we set up a special taskforce. It is our vision that by October, NIMASA would be fully automated,” he said.
The NIMASA boss said that the dream of the agency “is to be recognised as the foremost maritime regulatory Agency in Africa and that is the pride of the continent.”
Peterside said that the agency has the duty to facilitate maritime business not to stifle it.
He also assured stakeholders that NIMASA would create an enabling environment that would satisfy the yearnings of all.
He added: “The bigger picture is to build a world class, high performance organisation that would satisfy the interest and yearnings of our clients as well as serve the interest of the country that set us up. We are indeed facilitators of maritime business, therefore we will not stifle it.”
NIMASA was a wreck when Dakuku Peterside assumed duty the new DG. In less than 16 years, NIMASA rotated through 10 directors-general. Perhaps as an indication of how rotten the system was, the last DG is now being tried for corruption. The one before that has entered a plea bargain to refund some inappropriately appropriated money, and another ex-DG has been sentenced to a five-year jail term.
Two months after he resumed as DG of NIMASA, Peterside launched a medium term maritime growth strategy, designed to run through three years. He said NIMASA needed to rediscover itself if it were to realise the reasons for which it was created. He added that to rediscover itself, NIMASA must partner those whose businesses and lives would be affected by the agency’s actions.
That was not all, a few days after, he set up a stakeholders forum with the theme: “Repositioning the Maritime Sector for Greater Impact.” At the stakeholders forum, Peterside announced changes expected to improve the NIMASA’s structure, culture, and performance.
Going forward, he added, NIMASA’s value won’t be judged by how much money it made for government but how well it stimulated growth in the maritime sector of the economy.
“Our performance will be service-based and not metric-based. The focal point of which will be to create the enabling environment to gainfully engage as many stakeholders as possible,” Peterside said.
As part of the effort to reposition and restructure NIMASA, Peterside earlier this year approved the redeployment of some senior management staff of the agency.
The redeployment exercise has Mr. Ibrahim Jibril as the Director, Strategic Management in the Office of the Director General, Hajia Lami Tumaka, who was the former Head, Corporate Communications as the Director, Special Duties also in the Director General’s office, Mr. Abiodun Akinyosoye took over as the Director of Administration and Human Resources while Mrs. Aishatu Jumai Musa was made the Director, Planning Research & Data Management Services Department while Mr. Audu Abdulsalam is now the Director, Legal Services.
Others include: Mr. Hassan El-Yakub, Director Eastern Zone and Mr. Olayemi Abass, Director Western Zone, Mr. Anthony Ogadi, was made Head, Shipping Development and Abel Femowei as the Coordinator, Central Zone, Warri.
Furthermore, Captain Sunday Umoren is now Head, Maritime Safety and Seafarers Standards Department of the agency while Mr. Isichei Osamgbi is the new Head, Corporate Communications.
The redeployment exercise comes on the heels of the recent promotion which saw to the elevation of eight deputy directors as directors, 15 assistant directors to deputy directors while 56 grade level 14 officers were promoted to their next grade of assistant directors.
According to the DG, the new postings are expected to reposition the agency towards meeting its statutory mandate as enshrined in the NIMASA Act and other enabling instruments.
ISPS Code enforcement
Peterside has also make good his promise to ensure the full implementation and enforcement of the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) code in the nation’s ports.
Recently, NIMASA shut three jetties and port facilities for non-compliance with the provisions of the ISPS code.
NIMASA in a statement said the decision is pursuant to its mandate as the Designated Authority (DA) for the implementation Code in Nigeria.
The facilities are Heyden Petroleum Jetty Ijora Lagos; Waziri Jetty, Dockyard Road Apapa Lagos and Starz Marine Shipyard Limited Onne in Rivers State. These facilities, the agency stated, have persistently failed to comply with the ISPS code necessitating their closure in order to forestall a situation where security breaches in such facilities will negatively impact the compliant ones.
These closures, it added, are in exercise of the agency’s powers in line with provisions of Part VIII of the ISPS Code Implementation Regulations 2014 under which the facilities were adjudged to be non-compliant despite repeated warnings to remedy the deficiencies.
NIMASA has consistently stated its commitment to the enforcement of full compliance with the ISPS Code especially in the face of growing terrorists’ activities globally.
While hosting a pre-assessment team from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) recently, Peterside expressed the determination of the Agency to enforce the code saying that, “ultimately all of us are working for a common purpose, a safer world through safety and security of the maritime sub sector. If we fix our different corners of the earth, the whole world will be safer for everybody. And so no effort should be spared in trying to guarantee safety and security.”
“All shut facilities are to remain closed until the managers of such facilities correct the identified deficiencies in line with the dictates of the Code as the Agency aims to achieve 100 per cent compliance with the cooperation of all stakeholders. This exercise is a continuous one, “it stated.
Cabotage Act implementation
After several years of talks without action, the NIMASA under Peterside’s watch has commenced the full implementation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 also known as the Cabotage Act.
To ensure that all parties are onboard, Peterside has instructed the leadership of the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association to ensure that all hands are on deck.
Speaking to the leadership of the bodies at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos, the DG said proper regulation of the Cabotage Act was instrumental to the development of the maritime sector.
He stated that Nigerians must always be encouraged to be key players in the sector and that the issue of abuse of waivers would be checked.
According to him, “We have not realised the full potential of the Cabotage Act but we have moved a step ahead. Just to be sure that we are committed to the full implementation of the Cabotage Act, issues relating to waiver abuse are currently being dealt with accordingly.”
Peterside also said that the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) would only be disbursed to people that would put it into the use for which it is intended adding applicants must have the requisite criteria as beneficiaries.
“We will rigorously screen the applicants of the CVFF in order to ensure that the funds are disbursed to people who would use it for the purposes the funds are meant for,” he added.
The NIMASA boss also stated that the agency is currently screening maritime institutions across the country and would only accredit the ones that can provide the maritime training required in line with global best practices.
Peterside, however, noted that NIMASA is not in a position to recognise any Merchant Navy Association as that function falls under the purview of the National Assembly.
Earlier, the association which decried the abuse of waivers in the implementation of the Cabotage Act also requested the Agency to find ways of reviewing the Act to pave the way for indigenous operators to be more involved in coastal and inland trade in Nigeria.
The association also sought greater collaboration with NIMASA especially in the areas of maritime regulatory decision making and human capacity building for the growth and development of the industry.
Wooing shipping companies
In a bid to woo shipping companies to Nigeria and increase revenue for the federal government, Peterside had recently assured the international shipping community and stakeholders of the country’s determination to eliminate piracy and criminality within her territorial waters.
Peterside stated this while addressing multilateral and development agencies on the sidelines of the on-going IMO/MOWCA sponsored integrated sub regional coast Guard function network in Brussels, Belgium.
Also, he noted that Nigeria is working with both local and international counter piracy partners to eliminate criminality on her waterways.
According to Peterside, “We have a close working relationship with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in order to foster an integrated approach to dealing with the menace. We have also increased surveillance and have deployed world class maritime domain awareness assets in conjunction with the Nigeria Navy and the Nigeria Ports Authority to monitor our maritime environment.”
The NIMASA boss said that in addition, the country has deployed Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Air Force as well as other naval assets to patrol and monitor the country’s waterways.
He observed that as a signatory to all IMO instruments and regulations relating to maritime security, Nigeria is committed to their compliance in order to eliminate piracy and criminality on the high seas.