The management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) led by the Director General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside has proved right the aphorism â€œit is not how long but how wellâ€. This is sequel to the meaningful contributions it has made to the development of the agency and the maritime industry since it was appointed over a year ago.
The general belief in the maritime industry is that Peterside has to a large extent delivered on his promise on assumption of office to harness Nigeriaâ€™s vast potentials and make her a maritime hub in the West and Central Africa sub-region.
Stakeholders have averred that he has reasonably succeeded at promoting the development of indigenous capacity in international and coastal shipping besides effectively regulating the maritime industry through a three-year medium term strategic growth plan of reformation, restructuring and repositioning of the agency.
The blueprint was in line with the â€˜changeâ€™ agenda of the President Buhariâ€™s administration aimed at diversifying the economy. This was confirmed when Buhari recently acknowledged the agencyâ€™s performance under Peterside, especially his fight against sea piracy through inter-agency co-operation.
Besides Buhari, maritime experts agreed that the modest contributions Peterside has made to the development of the agency and the maritime industry informed Nigeriaâ€™s hosting of the Association of Africaâ€™s Maritime Administrators (AAMA) conference in Abuja. His election to head the association was an affirmation of his achievements.
While the rebranding of the agency through the unveiling of its new logo by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has infused a new dose of energy into the NIMASA brand, the hosting has also contributed in enhancing Nigeriaâ€™s chances to return to Council at IMO in Category C. The Presidency has given nod to NIMASA to seek election into IMO.
Despite Petersideâ€™s appointment at a time when the number of vessels and volume of cargoes have dropped due to recession and fiscal policies, he has been able to administer the agency effectively by drawing from his wealth of experience in politics and the legislature.
This explained his successes in the areas of humanÂ capacity building, the implementation of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP),SearchÂ and Rescue (SAR), the development of shipping, maritime security and safety, anti-piracy, implementationÂ of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code and the Cabotage Act.
The management has 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 international conventions on maritime labour, security and safety, as well as discharge its air and coastal surveillance effectively.
On assumption of office, he had introduced a new work ethics, focused on the training and retraining of personnel, the improvement of their welfare across board and the promotion of workers. Promotions last took place 10 years ago. These have impacted positively on the agencyâ€™s contributions to the maritime industry.
In line with its vision to produce a crop of well-trained manpower for the maritime industry which will in turn earn scarce foreign exchange, the management has repackaged the NSDP and ensured that all the beneficiaries especially those who are currently in school have access to sea time training.
While the management has made significant contributions to the consolidated revenue fund in its one year of existence, it is working hard to double it by increasing its revenue sources, plugging loopholes and enhancing compliance to ensure it provides more money for government to fund its projects.
As part of measures to enhance revenue generation, it has commenced the billing of pipelines, oil rigs and FPSOs through the exploitation of the statutory provisions of the Sea Protection Levy Gazette.
NIMASA has made giant strides in the implementation of the ISPS Code sequel to its appointment as a Designated Authority. It has over 80 per cent compliance rate with 145 ports in the country fully compliant from only 13 in 2005.
While the United States Coast Guard team has lauded NIMASA over its efforts on the implementation of the Code, many stakeholders have also commended it.Â This high compliance rate means that terminals are now safer and reliable as well as contribute more revenue to the economy.
Again, the management has been able 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 SAR Committee of nine member states under Nigeria, and the hosting of two sub regional technical committee meetings have increased the agencyâ€™s capacity to respond to distress calls.
Its quest to have a safer maritime domain has also made it to champion the passage of an anti-piracy bill in the National Assembly. The quest to enhance safety of vessels cum search and rescue has also made it possible for it to increase the number of SAR Marshals from 100 to 1000.
The lifting of Nigeria wet cargo is now at Free on Board (FOB) basis but the management is ensuring that it is lifted on Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) basis. This will create jobs and make Nigerians to participate in crude oil lifting, cargo insurance.
The management is working towards 100 per cent compliance with the Cabotage Act apart from working on its amendment for effectiveness About 400 vessels flying Nigerian flag are now registered with NIMASA compared to less the figures in 2015. It has gone far to ensure the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF). This will enhance the capacity of indigenous shipping companies.
It is set to take delivery of the fifth largest modular floating dockyard on the African continent. This is expected to save Nigeria at least $100 million annually.
As Peterside continues to lead NIMASA to greater height, there is unanimity that the management is already increasing its contributions to the maritime industry and beyond.