Norway hails Nigeria for regional maritime security leadership
… Commends NIMASA for sound security facilities
By Ray Ugochukwu
Norway has praised the government of Nigeria for its leadership role in the West and Central African sub-region in ensuring adequate maritime security for sea trade.
The Scandinavian country made the commendation Monday, in Lagos through its Foreign Minister, Her Excellency Anniken Huitfeldt, who is on a working visit to Nigeria.
L-R: Huitfeldt, Jamoh and Knut Eiliv Lein, Norwegian Ambassador at the event
Huitfeldt, who came in company of Norwegian ship owners and other stakeholders, expressed her country’s gratitude to Nigeria when she was hosted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) at its Resource Centre, Kirikiri.
She disclosed that Norway was happy with Nigeria for fully adopting and and implementing the United Nations (UN) maritime security initiatives relating to ports and water safety.
She said her country was particularly impressed with Nigeria’s colossal policing role in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) where piracy was a nightmare until recently.
A cross section of Norwegian maritime delegation
The Foreign Minister, who had earlier taken a tour of NIMASA’s security facilities in different locations in Lagos, assured of her country’s collaboration with Nigeria by way of “economic assistance through mult-level structures”.
In his remarks, Director General, Department for Regional Affairs, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatiing the Norwegian ship owners, Mr Vebjorn Dysvik, commended Nigeria for its leadership role in the sub-region.
He said Norwegian ship owners saw Nigeria as a key actor in improving maritime safety, not just in the country and sub-region but the entire African continent.
Dysvik, who disclosed that their ship owners currently paraded about 1,700 vessels, expressed optimism that the positive maritime achievements recorded by Nigeria would continue.
While welcoming the Norwegian delegation at the occasion, the NIMASA Director General, Dr Bashir Jamoh, took time to explain what the agency stood for by the Act establishing it, including the organogram, quality staffing, among others.
He said NIMASA stood on the tripod of Maritime Security, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development popularly known as the TRIPLE ‘S’.
Jamoh told his guests that annually, the country hosted 110,000 vessels but regretted that none of these got repaired locally because of the absence of repair yards. Consequently, he further said, the vessels got such services from neighbouring countries like Benin and Ghana. To stem this therefore, according to him, NIMASA was looking for investment in that direction.
Representatives of Nigerian maritime stakeholders
On maritime security, the NIMASA boss explained what motivated the agency to go into a huge collaboration with various security agencies and some friendly countries that resulted in stemming the piracy tide in the Gulf of Guinea.
Reeling out statistics to justify his claims, Jamoh informed that in 2018, piracy in GoG was 48 cases, which came down to 35 in both 2019 and 2020. He said this was further brought down to only six in 2021 and finally to zero in both 2022 and 2023. He assured that the agency and country would do all within their powers to sustain the tempo.
The NIMASA boss added that many criminals were arrested and prosecuted in the course of policing the waters resulting in many of them being sentenced to jail terms of 10 years and above.
Jamoh disclosed that efforts were in top gear towards the refleeting of the country’s depleted vessel fleet. To this end, he maintained, the over $720 million accruing from the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) would soon be disbursed to potential beneficiaries to enable them acquire ships in order to boost maritime trade.
Jamoh used the opportunity to announce the acquisition of seven boats by the agency which, he said would be launched next month.
The Foreign Minister embarked on the trip in company of the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Knut Eiliv Lein.
Norway is a leading member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and it is the 5th largest maritime nation in the world, boasting of over 1,700 ships and 80 seaports.