Master Mariners Urge FG to Reverse Duplication of Agencies Roles

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Eromosele Abiodun

The Nigerian Association of Master Mariners has called on the federal government to review the laws setting up its agencies in the maritime sector to eliminate duplication of roles. This, the association said, will expedite the evacuation of shipwrecks in Nigerian waters.

The maritime professionals, who stated this at their quarterly paper presentation in Lagos, opined that it was unethical for the federal government to have enacted similar laws and enshrine same in the articles of maritime agencies.

They pointed out that similar roles and obligations have been accorded maritime agencies such as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the evacuation of shipwrecks in Nigerian waters.

They therefore stressed the need for government to realign existing maritime laws and make them adaptable for maritime institutions to implement.

In his presentation, Chairman Nigerian Ports Consultative Forum, Mr. Tunde Folarin said: The drafting of so many other maritime agencies laws has become conflicting.

in the sense that it now very difficult for agencies to perform particular functions believing it is domiciled in the Act of another agency. So from individual agency’s perspective it will be very difficult because they will probably try to control some policies within their laws and since we are saying it is domiciled in several laws it becomes very confusing.

“This gives room for incompetence, jealousy and vested interest to arise. So at the end of the day it is like everybody is in charge and nobody is in charge. Then the industry is suffering. Hence, the Master Mariners Association, being a vested interest in the progress of the maritime sector, should set up a project kind of committee to deal with the issue of maritime policy. They can create the group as a subsidiary body to look at the issue of conflicting laws.

“With due respect we have seen that the Ministry of Transportation is kind of giving schedules to people who are career officers not necessarily career maritime professionals. The Master Mariner Association and all the other non-governmental agencies that have interest in the advancement of this domain should now understand that the agencies and ministries alone are not capable of driving this change,” he said.

President of the association, Captain Joseph Awodeha suggested that the government should revisit the different Acts setting up the maritime agencies to avoid confusion in implementation. He said: “The government and other relevant authorities should revisit all the different Acts of these agencies so that they can pick up a responsibility and say this responsibility should go to such agency and the other to another agency. This is such so that there is no confusion in implementation. There is no point you send somebody abroad to train at the end of the training he has no practical experience to carry out the job he is supposed to do. There is a difference between theoretical training in the university or college and practical training aspect of what one should do.

“We have so many cadets that have gone abroad trained but cannot perform their duties as marine officers or marine engineers because the platform for them to do the practical aspect to qualify them to actually work onboard and be employable have not been attained. So they just come in with academic qualification with no professional competency qualification.”

The keynote speaker, Admiral Siempre Ombo (rtd), in his paper with the theme: ‘Coastguards and Navies: The Roles and the Responsibilities of the Nigerian Navy,’ said any Navy that is worth its salt has three principal roles, the military, policing and diplomatic roles.
He said the basic functions in the policing role are coastal functions and nation building functions and the Navy has that responsibility.

“The Navy goes beyond just normal coastal functions in its policing roles it also does nation building functions when the job is about dislodging piracy, smuggling and search and rescue. Also, when it comes to enforcing laws of Customs and Immigration the Navy has the constitutional mandate to perform these roles,” he said.