By Isaac Anumihe
On Tuesday, March 15, 2016, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had its 5th Director General, Dr. Dakuku Abdol Peterside. Peterside hails from the riverine Opobo area of Rivers State. His appointment took effect from March 10, 2016. He was the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the 2015 election in Rivers State.
For NIMASA, another young, vibrant and highly educated personality is on board to usher in the needed impetus to move the Nigeria maritime sub-sector forward. It is on record that NIMASA has been lucky to have young, vibrant and educated Directors General since its inception in 2007, but the bane of its management instability has been that of politics, mismanagement, corruption and external control.
The agency since its creation in 2007 had her pioneer DG as Mfon Ekong Usoro, a foremost maritime lawyer from Akwa Ibom State. She lasted only nine months. High-level politics and power play booted her out.
Dr. Ade Dosunmu, who was Usoro’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, from Lagos State, took over as DG. The same round of alleged corruption, politics and power play, characterised the Dosunmu’s over two years tenure before he was sacked. In fact, his sack was linked to his refusal to implement the 5% capacity building funding to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, as enshrined in the NIMASA Act 2007. Dosunmu, after signing a pact with the then Minister of Transport, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, the Rector of MAN, Oron, refused to release funds to MAN in his two years as DG NIMASA. But instead was alleged to have spent over N400 million on an unapproved academy at Badagry. The fake project died after his sack.
He was succeeded by Mr. Temisan Omatseye, a lawyer and ship owner, from Delta State. He was appointed as the agency’s third DG. Omatseye spent one year eight months battling the powers that be. At the end, he was booted out.
The next to mount the NIMASA’s top job was Ziakede Patrick Akpolobokemi, a former lecturer and from the Ijaw speaking area of Delta State. Akpolobokemi was widely believed to be former President Jonathan’s candidate at the agency. He became the longest serving NIMASA DG, spending close to five years in office. Unfortunately, he was the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to be booted out by the Buhari Administration in July 2015.
In March 2016, the Federal Government announced Dr. Dakuku Peterside as the agency’s new helmsman.
Nigeria is making another inroad into history in the committee of maritime nations as its leading agency in maritime affairs assumed another milestone in channeling its maritime resources to boost its economy. As usual, Dakuku’s appointment was greeted with the normal ethnic, political and qualification question marks. But none may stop him from steering the affairs of the agency, at least, for the next four years. NIMASA in its nine years of existence (2007-2016) has got five DGs and eight months acting DG in quick succession.
Like a troubled edifice, NIMASA has been jinxed with the “banana peel” syndrome. The subsisting enemy of the agency has been politics, power play, mismanagement of funds, corruption and constant conflicts from both staff of the agency and their political sponsors. These self-inflicted syndromes by the various management of the agency and their political sponsors have deterred the agency from carrying out its mandated functions as a regulatory body for maritime activities in Nigeria.
With the coming of Dr. Dakuku Peterside, it is expected that he will overcome the challenges and demystify the hawks and scorpions that are waiting at both the agency and the political doors to bring him down.
Already, the battle is on from different fronts and from various dimensions. Like they say, the maritime industry is a “mafia” sector working with groups of cartels. Peterside must be able to weather the storm like a worthy ship captain to beat all odds to sail safe to the shore. The Sea contains many unknown troubles, which can spring up at any time. So is NIMASA.
NDLEA confirms 8 seized bags of cocaine
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has confirmed that the eight bags (25 pieces per bag) of unidentified substance found in 1 x 20ft container No. CMAU 045195/0 is cocaine weighing 214.732kg. This particular seizure ranks among the highest in terms of volume in the country in recent times.
In the words of the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Bashar, Y. U., “this is no doubt a spectacular and remarkable seizure considering the well articulated intelligence coordination mechanism adopted and harnessed by the Command in its bid to achieve desired results.”
The Controller stated that all hands are on deck in all ramifications to ensure that Tincan Port continues to blaze the trail especially with the recent commendation from the CGC and management to the Command for being at the vanguard of due diligence and professionalism.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Tincan Island Port, Lagos, generated a whopping sum of N207,838,450,974.00 between January and October 2016. This sum represents a positive trend in consideration of the prevailing economic recession, which has become a global phenomenon.
This disclosure was made by the Area Controller, Tincan Island Port, Apapa, Comptroller Bashar Yusuf, recently, while reviewing the general operational module of the Command.
Recall that the Controller, on assumption of office few months ago, had re-jigged the operational and revenue generating capacity of the Command through some far reaching measures aimed at blocking all identifiable areas of revenue leakages.
During a recent meeting with key stakeholders in the maritime industry, the Controller had charged them to continually educate and sensitise members of their various organisations on the need to support the Federal Government and the NCS through honest declarations in all their documentation. “A major constraint, which we have continued to address is the issue of false declaration, deliberate misapplication of harmonised system code on items, among other infractions. However, I am confident that with the measures, which we have put in place, it will be practically impossible for anybody to manipulate or circumvent the process without being caught.”
Speaking on the measures and plans to further enhance the capacity of the Command to deal with some of the vices, the Controller pointed out that he is fully committed and determined to deliver on his mandate, promising to ensure that the various operations in the value chain are compelled to key into the change ideology of the Federal Government.
In his words, “we will continue the strategy of stakeholder engagement, training and re-training of our personnel as well as collaboration and synergy with the critical agencies in line with the vision and mission of the Comptroller General, Col Hamed Ali (Rtd) and his management.
“We will continue to remain on top of our mandate through strict adherence with the extant laws for maximum Revenue Generation”.
We’re building world-class academy –Registrar
The Registrar of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, (MAN), Oron, Mr. Mkpandiok Ante Mkpandiok, has reiterated the determination of the present management of the academy in repositioning the institution in accordance with world-class academies across the globe.
Mkpandiok who also stands in as the acting rector of the institution said that contrary to the stories making the rounds that the academy is in conflicts, his team is working hard to rebrand the academy.
Mkpandiok, who disclosed this during a chat with Maritime Journalists in Lagos recently, said that since the demise of Dr. Anthony Ishiodu, the academy has been under his watch. He appealed to the Federal Government to give him the opportunity to serve as the substantive rector for just two years to prove his worth.
He explained that his emergence as acting rector was borne out of circumstance. “We want to see what we can do, which sometimes I call it re-branding, and beginning from this session, I want Nigerians to give us the opportunity to prove our worth. Well, if I say it, it will look as if one is too ambitious to become the rector, but if I have the privilege, I want government to give us just two years and let them see what we will bring out, because I will not allow young men to be wasted after school,” he said.
On the alleged infighting between him and the school’s Bursar, Mr. Kayode Folorunsho, Mkpandiok denied such conflict, saying they are all working together, holding meetings and that no management staff has absented from meetings since he came on board.
Commenting on the progress so far made in the academy, he said the instutitution is in dire need of funding as maritime training is capital intensive because of its equipment and facilities.
He pleaded with the Federal Government to, aside from the NIMASA funding, also allocate funds for the academy through yearly budgetary provisions.
The Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron has been hit with two deaths in quick succession of his Rector Joshua Okpo in December 2015, and Acting Rector, Dr Anthony Ishiodu in July 2016.
The death of these men spark up bickering, infighting and scrambles of who becomes the next helmsman of the institution. It was largely alleged that the Registrar, Mr Mkpandiok and the bursar Mr Kayode Folorunsho were at dagger- drawn on who controls the academy, especially in matters relating to finances.
Expert calls for revamp of shipping industry
By Chinenye Anuforo
Captain Adamu Audu Biu, Master Marina has called on the Federal Government to revamp the shipping industry in order to scale the present economic hurdles and consolidate the chances for future economic stability.
Biu who made this call at the World Maritime Day Celebration last week in Lagos said that over 90 per cent of world trade is carried out by international maritime shipping and the industry is therefore inter-linked with global economy, adding that the relevance and significance of maritime shipping to a nation cannot be over-emphasised.
He pointed out that indigenous shipping in Nigeria started at the eve of independence in the 50s with the establishment of Nigerian National Shipping Lines (NNSL), which grew up to the late 70s when it was catapulted to a mega shipping line with the acquisition of 19 brand new ships by government. But by the end of the 90s, almost all the national fleet had disappeared save for the NLNG, which operates chartered ships.
Biu said that several reasons have been given for the failure of NNSL but the main reasons were that NNSL was run like a typical government parastatal, the private shipping lines did not operate with active foreign participation or partnership and lack of “political will” to have Nigerian vessels involved in crude oil export.
He therefore explained that political will on the part of the government is the single most important factor in revamping the shipping industry.
The Master Mariner added that security is a very big challenge to the shipping industry, saying, “security of our waterways is a phenomenon that must be addressed decisively and urgently if foreign participation is expected in the Nigerian shipping industry.”
He hinted that presently, ship owners and charterers are made to pay insurance premiums of up to $100,000 per vessel’s call to any Nigerian port. “It is called war risk. This is very serious embarrassment to the nation as we are not in war. It also adds to inflation in the country as ship owners simply find a way to pass this bill to the cargo interest.”
He suggested that radar coverage of waters from Badagry to Calabar is possible up to 40 nautical miles off the coast to monitor vessels’ movement on a 24-hour basis.
“This will to a very reasonable extent , help in detecting unauthorized movements of vessels that may be involved in illegal bunkering or oil theft”, he said.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amechi said that shipping is indispensable to the world in view of its contribution towards economic development. “For us as a nation, oppourtunities abound in the maritime sector that could lift the economy to greater height , but these have remained unexploited.”
He pointed out the maritime industry in Nigeria is faced with myriads of challenges bordering on, non competiveness, low level of investment amongst adding that these have placed the country in a disadvantaged position compared to ports of neigbouring countries within West and Central African sub-region.
The Minister said as part of comprehensive action to address these challenges and ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness of the shipping industry, a number of measures are being put in place including the privatization of the nation’s port while the various regulatory agencies are being repositioned for effective service delivery.