The newly commissioned assets put in place by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) have been described as facilities that would assist in reshaping the country’s economy for the better.
Minister of Transportation, Hon. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, made the declaration Sunday in Lagos as he commissioned the assets.
The commissioned items are five new patrol/security boats; 5 refurbished Search and Rescue pollution control boats; Search and Rescue Clinic located at the NIMASA Resource Centre, Kirikiri and an administrative building.
The commissioned security boats
Sambo said in his keynote speech, “We are gathered here today in continuation of the Commissioning of Completed projects by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
“On the 16th of May 2023, we gathered in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to commission the newly acquired NIMASA Abuja Zonal Office and to show the good people of Nigeria our relentless commitment to the delivery of good governance through our deliberate and concentrated efforts at institutionalizing policies and structures that will lead to Nigeria’s economic renaissance”.
He further said, “Today’s ceremony serves to further reinforce our commitment, as the projects to be commissioned are directly tied to the mission of NIMASA which is to achieve and sustain safe, secure shipping, cleaner oceans and enhanced maritime capacity in line with the best global practices towards Nigeria’s economic development.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for lending his support to the ministry and the agency to achieve the feat.
The minister also commended the staff of NIMASA and all those who made the feat possible.
In his words, “At this juncture, let me again commend the Director General/CEO of NIMASA Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, the Board of the Agency, members of the Executive Management, top management and staff of NIMASA, the Permanent Secretary and Directors of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the contractors for the successful delivery of these projects which will hopefully serve the good people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Sambo however, rejected the gesture of one of the vessels being named after him, preferring that it be named after the Chairman, Marine and Education Committee at the House of Representatives, Hon. Linda Ikpeazu.
He ordered the NIMASA boss, Dr Bashir Jamoh, to implement his decision before next week, nothing that the lawmaker was more deserving of such than him that just came to the sector barely ten months ago.
He pointed out that Hon. Ikpeazu had headed the Marine Transport Committee for three times and as such had made more contributions to the industry than himself.
In his welcome speech, the NIMASA Director General, Dr Jamoh, recalled that the commissioned assets were an addition to the Deep Blue Project infrastructure that had gulped $195 million and enumerated some of the components of the investment.
“The Deep Blue project is a $195 million investment towards vessels, Maritime Domain Awareness platforms, and land and air and sea assets. The land assets comprises the Command, Control, Computer, Communication, and Intelligence (C4i) Centre for domain awareness and intelligence gathering, 16 armored vehicles for coastal patrol, and a 600-strong Maritime Security Unit specially trained for interdiction. The air assets comprises two Special Mission Aircraft (SMA) for surveillance of the EEZ, three Special Mission Helicopters (SMHs) for search and rescue, and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) while the sea assets comprises two Special Mission Vessels (SMVs) and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats (FIBs).
“The Deep Blue Project which has tremendously boosted the rate of safety of the waterways was an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Federal Ministry of Defense, implemented by NIMASA, with personnel drawn from the Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Department of State Services, and other security agencies. There is no gainsaying that the project is the most significant commitment by any Gulf of Guinea country to date and the impact is crystal clear for all to see.
Beyond the strides at overcoming maritime crime at the Gulf of Guinea, the management and safety of the Nigerian Inland Waterways equally deserves attention as NIMASA is committed to ensuring the waterways are safe for local transportation and other leisure activities so that more internal revenues are generated.
“It is important to keep the inland waterways free of waste and pollutants so as to ensure they remain navigable in addition to keeping them secured from perpetrators of maritime crime”, Jamoh stated.
He made it clear that it was the persistence of NIMASA that gave birth to the number of successes recorded in the life of his administration.
“Permit me to start by asserting that truly, persistency pays. The Late Maya Angelou is credited to have said that “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated”. It is bearing this notion in mind that has over the past four years fuelled our determination as an agency at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and as a nation in its entirety, to be persistent and relentless in the fight against maritime crime and insecurity while also striving at making our waterways and general maritime ecosystem safe”.
He adduced reasons why there was huge emphasis on Blue Economy by the agency, saying it was pivotal to the growth and development of the country.
“We have from the very beginning of our administration reckoned that attaining a Blue Economy is pivotal to the growth and development of the nation. It was equally important that while we had our vision set on achieving something great, we simultaneously took cognizance of the damaging impact that piracy, kidnapping of seafarers, smuggling, illegal oil bunkering, robbery at sea and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing has had on our maritime profile.
“The Gulf of Guinea which Nigeria is a major stakeholder was notorious for piratical attacks and used to be referred to as the “world’s hotspot” for piracy. The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2634 which called for a crackdown on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
By the year 2022, cases of piracy and other maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea had significantly reduced as only about 3 cases of piracy were recorded while none of the cases was attributable to Nigeria. The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center (IMB PRC) regarded this as a positive trend. This equally meant that the year 2022 was a successful year for Nigeria in the fight against piracy and other maritime crime and same should be regarded as a milestone for the Buhari-led administration”, the shipping technocrat remarked.
According to him,” these new assets and building is an exhibition of the fact that the Federal Government is relentless and persistent in the fight against maritime crime while strengthening the blue economy of Nigeria and I should at this point express gratitude to the same set of persons that I appreciated just few days ago while we commissioned the NIMASA Complex in Abuja.
As I always maintain, words are never enough in thanking Mr. President, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and as he leaves office after meritoriously and dedicatedly serving this nation yet again for eight long years, I pray that Almighty God thank you for us and grant you tranquility”.
“I also repeat my appreciation of the 9th National Assembly for their impact on the success of NIMASA in the fight against piracy and other maritime crime both within Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea”, he added.
One the major highlights of the occasion was the public announcement of the naming of some of the commissioned vessels after personalities who have contributed to the growth and development of the industry.
Two of such are deceased persons, late Otunba Kunle Folarin, who was Chairman, Seafarers’ Welfare Board and late Alhaji Lawal Kaita, former governor, Kaduna State, credited with fighting for the creation of NIMASA after the merging of the defunct National Maritime Authority ( NMA) and defunct Joint Maritime Labour and Industrial Council (JOMALIC).
Other individuals, who have vessels named after them, are Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, immediate past Minister of Transportation; Gbemi Saraki, former acting Minister of Transportation and Dr Magdalene Ajani, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation.
Others are President Buhari; Yemisan Bolasade, current Head of Service and Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) and Bashir Jamoh.