Days of glorious leaps in NIMASA

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THE Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has continued to be inundated with commendations following the transformations that have redefined the operations of the parastatal in recent past.

   Since Dakuku Peterside  came to NIMASA in 2016 with his ambitious reforms; from staff orientation to maritime industry operations and laws positive changes have manifested in the agency. Today, the reforms are yielding good fruit and those who do business with NIMASA are already attesting to positive changes therein. Both staff of NIMASA and industry stakeholders agreed on the fact that the agency, which was virtually rundown, has been given a new lease of life.

  At NIMASA, Dakuku hit the ground running. He launched a quick response operation, Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), aimed at returning the agency and the maritime sector to the path of growth and sustainability. That was followed by an expanded strategic repositioning and restructuring initiative captured under five pillars, namely, Survey, Inspection and Certification Transformation Programme; Environment, Security, Emergency Search and Rescue Transformation Initiative; Digital Strategy Reforms; Capacity Building and Promotional Initiatives; and Structural and Cultural Reforms.

  To build staff capacity and create new work ethics, the Dakuku-led management introduced a series of professional and leadership trainings called the Knowledge Transfer Sessions (KTS). Under the programme, scheduled teaching and learning activities are organised all the year round where in-house resource persons mentor staff on various professional and leadership themes to try to enhance their competences. Navy launches exercise ‘AmunBueng’ to salvage maritime security threats.

  Under Dakuku, NIMASA has achieved a lot in the discharge of its duties of administering maritime safety and security, seafarers’ standards, maritime labour, shipping regulation, promotion of commercial, coastal, and inland shipping activities, and pollution prevention and control measures in the marine environment. NIMASA has reviewed downward, the freight rates benchmark, in response to operators’ yearnings, and this has helped to boost shipping and foster a harmonious regulator-operator relationship. The review resulted in over 30 per cent rise in cargo activities in 2018, compared to 2017 figures.

  The administration has further championed a Change of Terms of Trade for the affreightment of Nigerian crude oil from Free on Board (FOB), where the country has virtually no control over the distribution of its crude oil, to Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF), which favours indigenous operators. It has intensified training for seafarers under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme.

  As part of efforts to enhance shipping, the Dakuku leadership of NIMASA is currently negotiating a special interest rate with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for acquisition of assets by indigenous ship owners.

  Under the Survey, Inspection and Certification Transformation Programme, Certificate of Competency (CoC) examinations have been conducted at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, leading to the issuance of different categories of CoCs to successful candidates. In 2017 alone, NIMASA issued 3,752 certificates to successful seafarers, which represented a 149 per cent increase from the CoCs issued in 2016. The agency leased six fast intervention security vessels under the maritime security strategy project, and this is already making impact. Port State inspections rose by 10.53 per cent in 2017, up from 475 in 2016 to 525 in 2017. Flag State inspections are also experiencing an upswing, from 77 in 2016 up to 98 in 2017, representing a 27 per cent increase and this has continued to soar in geometric proportion in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

  The Dakuku administration has launched an effort to ensure effective maritime domain awareness and better compliance enforcement through the establishment of a satellite surveillance control and command centre with coverage capacity of up to 312 nautical miles from the coastline (approximately 100 nautical miles off our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone)). The system can detect vessels with their Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders switched off as synthetic aperture raider (SAR) images, which can be interrogated immediately by near point of sight patrol/enforcement boats. The system has facilitated effective enforcement of maritime regulations.

 It has helped to preserve cabotage trade for indigenous operators by identifying and differentiating Ship-To-Ship (STS) operations that take place at the secured anchorage and offshore locations from cabotage trade to avoid foreign domination of the trade under the guise of STS. Accordingly, there has been an increase in indigenous participation in cabotage vessels manning, ownership, building, and registration with the agency’s zero tolerance on the granting of manning waivers. The agency has introduced electronic software for vessels monitoring and investigation, and improved interface with the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), leading to a harmonised marine vessel categorization standards and delivery of a common database.

Ship registration has been on the rise since the current management took over. About 125 vessels have been registered in 2018, as against 94 vessels registered in 2017, representing an increase of 33 per cent. The number of Nigerians manning vessels has also increased. About 2,840 Nigerian officers and ratings were recommended to be placed onboard cabotage vessels in 2018, as against 1,789 Nigerian seafarers in the same period in 2017, which is an increase of 58 per cent. NIMASA recently installed some new ship demolition equipment at its new ultra-modern shipyard in Port Harcourt to ensure safer navigable waterways for vessels in Nigeria.

 To facilitate effective regulation of the maritime industry and provide a kind of compass for local and international stakeholders intending to do business in the Nigeria maritime domain, NIMASA has initiated a yearly publication of its outlook for the maritime industry. The initiative debuted with the unveiling of the 2018 Nigerian Maritime Industry Forecast in February, and the agency continued to publish another edition of its Outlook and Forecasts for the Nigerian Maritime Sector, covering 2019. Dakuku has raised the bar in public and indeed, maritime administration.

  The Dakuku reform agenda has also become topical in the broader conversation about how to reform the economy and position Nigeria properly in the comity of nations. Stakeholders have been commending him since he set about rebuilding the maritime industry.

 “In the last three years NIMASA has taken steps in the maritime sector, which are unprecedented, and one area that the agency led by the DrPeterside has focused on is identifying the dangers posed by the presence of thousands of abandoned ships along the Nigerian waterways, which also have a lot of negative environmental implication for the country,” Group Managing Director of Uni-Trident Group, a leading marine support and logistics company, Prince Chukwuma Obiorah, was quoted as saying recently in Port Harcourt. It was for this rare administrative savvy that Dakuku was in April 2017, elected chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA).

  According to PresidentMuhammaduBuhari, “Peterside’s unanimous election is not only a personal honour and affirmation of confidence in his ability to lead AAMA, but also places Nigeria in a pivotal position to rally other maritime administrations in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) towards safer global maritime activities.”Public perception

  “On the public perception of NIMASA over the years, stakeholders believe the agency under Dakuku has completely changed the narrative from the negative perception of corruption, inefficiency and abandonment of its core mandate to that of a Maritime Administration that is alive to its responsibility intent on making Nigeria the preferred destination for maritime activities in Africa. Rebranding/Staff Promotion.

  One of his major achievements is the total re branding of the agency which was unveiled in April 22, 2016, by President Buhari. According to him, the need to rebrand NIMASA was borne out of the fact that the agency must align with other foremost maritime administrations in the world. Another area of achievement of his administration is the promotion of over 300 staff members of NIMASA in his first 12 months in office.

 People that are familiar with the agency will attest to the fact that before Peterside came on board of NIMASA several staff and directors had been stagnated for a decade; The staff and management relationship then was easily likened to that of mouse and cat relationship. With his promise to rebrand NIMASA, Peterside introduced a completely new work ethics and energy in the agency. “We had the mandate from the President through the Honourable Minister of Transport to go and reform NIMASA.

This we have initiated by first of all knowing that NIMASA cannot work under the defunct structures of JOMALIC and NMA. We also noticed that NIMASA had resourceful members of staff but needed motivation and this we have started by re-orientation of the staff”. Since the introduction of this new works ethics, many can testify to the fact that professionalism has grown within the capacity of the staff and new work ethics are fast changing the fortunes of the agency with better service delivery. Automation and global politics.

  Taking into consideration the importance of hi-tech, the Peterside administration instituted a medium term strategy through digital transformation to hasten processes at NIMASA. The process allows stakeholders to register their vessels and transact all other transactions digitally with a click of a button on their laptop.

Other achievements include the repositioning of Nigeria in the international maritime politics. Nigeria is said to be out of the council at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), for over half a decade thus relegating the country at international politics in the maritime sector.

In a bid to reposition the Nigerian maritime sector and make Nigeria a global voice again, the Heads of African Maritime Administration were made to converge in Abuja in April for the 3rd Association of African Maritime Administration Conference. With feats like these, the Nigerian maritime sector is being highly repositioned to take the lead in the comity of maritime nations.

  NIMASA under Peterside took on some strategic projects to curb piracy; some of which include investing in the satellite surveillance system, which has the capacity to view all vessels on the country’s waterways; supporting the security agencies to acquire assets that will enable them fight piracy and other maritime crimes; and proposing the recently passed anti-piracy bill which has given the agency the authority to prosecute maritime related crimes. In his own remarks, the IMSOT team leader, Leigh Smith, commended NIMASA for its efforts to maintain security on the country’s territorial waters and high sea. He urged continuous collaboration in the areas of technology and information sharing. Modernisation.

  NIMASA has issued software that provides a unique identification number for every vessel that arrives Nigerian ports. This would enable us prevent double entry and double billing. The former process was responsible for having shipping names appear in our books repeatedly for the last 10 years. According to the DG, “We also introduced the final billing system so you could settle our bills without it reflecting on our books again. This development is good for NIMASA and also good for the operators in the industry”.

  Maritime securityIt is the primary responsibility of NIMASA to ensure that ships that call at Nigerian ports are safe and secure. “We ensure this under two principal programmes. One is the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) programme and the other one is the NIMASA maritime security strategy.

  “Under the ISPS code, we have grown compliance from the 13% it was in the past to 80% compliance. ISPS code came into force after the September 11 incident in the United States of America (USA). In the case of September 11 incident, the airport was used but that incident raised the awareness that such danger could also come via the seaports.

“Hence, NIMASA has been more vigilant to ensure that port facilities comply with the ISPS code to the extent that we have grown our compliance level from 13% to 80% and we have also been commended by the Department of transportation at the United Kingdom and the United States Coast Guard.

  These are two major international players when it comes to security in maritime and the entire transport sector. NIMASA is concerned about the cases of piracy and armed robbery at sea on Nigerian waters. NIMASA has improved the surveillance within the nation’s waterways and we are collaborating with the Nigerian Navy to design several special programmes to patrol waterways especially in the Niger Delta region of the country. We have also reactivated our maritime domain awareness facility and the satellite surveillance system to give us a bird eyeview of the entire maritime space.

  Today, if you come to NIMASA you can see all that is going on in the Nigerian maritime space and we are working very hard to build capacity and be able to respond when called upon. We are also acquiring the right vessels as well as special maritime vision aircrafts. We are working hard to train a new crop of military men that would be specially trained for maritime surveillance.

  As a mark of recognition of Dakuku’s management  outstanding achievements, NIMASA has been bestowed with several awards, including the prestigious public organisation of the year 2016 award by Tell Magazine. Peterside was again unanimously elected as the Chairman of AAMA of which President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated him  . At present,1,045 beneficiaries graduated from NIMASA’s human capital development programme, representing 42 percent of over 2,500 participants sponsored by NIMASA.

 Credibility was the criteria for nomination”, he said. Also, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) led by Commander Thomas Foster, on a visit to Nigeria recently commended NIMASA for its strides in ensuring safety at the ports and expressed satisfaction with the infrastructure development regarding ISPS Code implementation in the ports. “It appears the energy that NIMASA has at the ports is very tremendous, as seen in all the ports we visited in Lagos”, Foster said. Through NIMASA, Nigeria now has about 80 percent compliance rate for ISPS code Conclusion.

   Dakuku has turned NIMASA into a disciplined and friendly environment for both local and international players in the maritime sector. Not only has he steered NIMASA away from the corruption which had plagued the foremost maritime agency for long, he has as well, steered it away from controversy, ineffectiveness, embezzlement of funds, unwarranted political intrusion, ethnic rivalry, among other mind-boggling issues which were the bane of the agency before his appointment. He is elated for positioning a robust maritime sector for the country, as well as having piracy at sea reduced under his regime.

   Dr. Dakuku Peterside will certainly be remembered for placing NIMASA on the global map and rewriting the history of maritime administration from a corrupt agency to an award winning parastatal. He will be honoured for projecting the Blue sea project to Africa and the maritime world in general.

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