It what looked like a tale of woes, some past Directors General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, took a retrospective look at the history of the Agency and concluded that NIMASA has fallen far short of the expectations and needs of industry stakeholders , despite its modest achievements but require a rejig of it’s laws to give it the power to bark and bite. This unanimous verdict was thrown up yesterday by the former helmsmen of Agency, as the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Administration commenced a public hearing on a bill to ammend both the NIMASA Act and the Cabotage Act.
The three past Directors General who spoke at the public hearing included Arc Ferdinand Agu, Mfon Usoro and Prince Temi Omatseye. Mrs Mfon Usoro who was pioneer Director General of NIMASA between August 2005 and May 2006, said 20 years on, the Cabotage Act had failed in it’s primary responsibility of improving the lot of Nigerian Shipowners. She explained that this was not solely an issue of lack of laws but essentially the absence of the political will to implement the laws that are already in place.
While admitting that a review of both the NIMASA Act and the Cabotage Act were long overdue, she suggested that there was ” an urgent need to broaden the participation of indegenou Shipowners in the new ammendment” Arc Ferdinand Agu in his submission said it was becoming a seeming show of strength between the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA, a development he argued was a needless distraction.” What we actually need between these two sister agencies is collaboration and synergy,as no party should feel superior and more important than the other.
This synergy is an economic weapon that would be to the benefit of the Nigerian State both in terms of security and being an economic power bloc in the global maritime domain” Agu took serious exception to the overbearing influence of the supervising Ministry of Transportation, insisting that the ministry should take a larger chunk of the blame in the shoddy showing of the Cabotage Act. Prince Temi Omatseye who was helmsman of the apex maritime regulatory agency between 2008 and 2010, and who in December 2009 had predicted that the CVFF would be disbursed , opined that one of the main problems confronting NIMASA was the absence of a credible oganogram .” We need a structure that would define career path and progression in such a manner that professionalism is encouraged and rewarded, he said