The Nigerian maritime community has welcomed and congratulated Dr. Bashir Jamoh on his appointment as the new Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Jamoh is a symbol of our collective victory and achieving goals and objectives. It is in this light that we, his former colleagues and friends, are of the strong view that his appointment is well deserved as he has over the years proven his competence in the industry.
His track record in the industry is there for all to see as he steadily rose through the ranks to the pinnacle of his career at NIMASA.
However, while revelling in the appointment of one of our own, I need to quickly point out to him critical areas that he should look at.
Firstly, he must ensure and sustain the good staff and pensioners’ welfare policy currently in place at NIMASA as the workforce is critical to his success.
Of course, Jamoh is aware of the fact that he has a pool of well-trained, experienced and exposed NIMASA retirees from where he can mobilize and tap from their reservoir of skills and knowledge. He would do himself, NIMASA and the maritime industry a world of good if he avails himself of the ready and willing human resource that abounds within the ranks of the retirees.
As for the job proper, Dr. Jamoh has been at the agency for over three decades and is very conversant with goings-on there.
Key issues in the front burner include the problem of maritime insecurity manifesting in the form of sea piracy, kidnapping, abduction and illegal bunkering.
The Deep Blue Project embarked upon by the previous administration is laudable, aimed at tackling insecurity in our territorial waters and the entire Gulf of Guinea.
As you steer the wheel of the NIMASA ship to safety, you must not lose focus on the four components of the project: enhance maritime surveillance of the maritime domain, acquire the necessary assets to patrol our oceans, retraining of military personnel and building up national, regional and international collaboration and cooperation.
Dr. Jamoh must also look critically at the Cabotage Act 2003 with a view to correcting certain drawbacks detrimental to Nigeria’s interest. This will include the issues of waivers and its stoppage and the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF).
Sadly, almost two decades after the ratification of the Cabotage Act, the indigenous shipping industry has still not grown to dominate coastal and inland shipping due to lack of institutional support and encouragement. Foreign domination of our coastal shipping via the waivers window should be looked at with a view to reversing the ugly trend. A quick solution will be for NIMASA to adopt a proactive strategy through shipbuilding (shipyards), Vessel Ownership (CVFF), Manning (NSDP) and Ship Registration (Ship Registry).
The Blue Economy Nigeria Initiative (BENI), therefore, is poised to work with NIMASA and other industry stakeholders to formulate, develop, implement and monitor a blue economy framework for Nigeria and move from the current sectoral approach to a multisectoral, integrated and an all-inclusive approach at multiple levels. Lastly, he should set up a committee that will analyze the problems associated with the elusive Category C seat at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and recommend the way forward given the prestige and economic privileges it will confer on Nigeria.
Suleiman Adama is the Coordinator of Blue Economy Nigeria Initiative (BENI), Abuja.