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Jamoh: Three years of stewardship, accomplishments at NIMASA

Friday, March 10, 2023 marked three years when Dr Bashir Jamoh was elevated to the position of Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) by the Federal Government.

During these eventful years, Nigeria’s maritime industry has witnessed astronomical growth and quantum development which has in no small measure boosted the country’s international recognition and goodwill. Daily newswire reports

Maritime Security

Security of the maritime domain is very critical to the day-to-day operation of the sector. Security helps to boost investors’ confidence; hence, the following key accomplishments are under the current dispensation.

Signing into law of the SPOMO Act by President Buhari,

The launch of the Deep Blue Project,

Significant reduction in piracy and kidnappings,

Arrests and successful prosecution of criminals,

Leadership of Regional Maritime Collaboration Forum to tackle Insecurity, and Nigeria’s removal from IBM’s Red List.

The Deep Blue Project

The aim of the project is to establish a sustainable architecture for improved maritime safety and security through increased monitoring and compliance enforcement within Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), with a view to effectively tackling the challenges of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Interoperability of the Deep Blue Project

Effective implementation of the Deep Blue Project contributed to the reduction in piracy cases with only one piracy case as of May 2022, 6 cases in 2021 from 35 cases in 2020 and 2019 respectively

NIMASA’s performance tripod

The agency observed that shipping is critical to global trade, yet it is the most vulnerable in terms of safety. This explains the reason the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) adopted the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention to ensure the safety of those involved.

Consequently, empowered by enabling legislation, NIMASA took this as a critical aspect of its job to ensure safety of ships and those on board, through proper enforcement of maritime safety conventions.

Achievement and Initiatives

The critical aspect of shipping development encompasses fleet expansion, shipbuilding and ship repairs. Shipping is responsible for over 90 percent of international transportation of goods that sustain the global supply chain, which is a significant component of the global economy, enhancing imports and exports of goods and services.

NIMASA is poised to advance shipping by ensuring a conducive environment for commercial shipping and encouraging more indigenous participation in the global shipping trade.

Waste to wealth programme/employment generation– 1,190 Marine Litters Marshals

The Federal Executive Council, at the end of the last quarter of 2021, approved the wreck removals from the Badagry axis up to the Tincan Island project has gone very far.

Again, in the first quarter of 2022, the Federal Executive Council approved the removal of the entire wrecks also in the other zones of Nigeria, comprising the Western zone with headquarters in Lagos, Eastern zone headquarters in Port Harcourt, and then the central Zone headquarters in Warri. All these projects have achieved major milestones.

We engaged the Nigerian Navy Naval Dockyard in Lagos to repair our operational vessels, Millennia 1 and Millennium 2. Today both vessels and five others are almost ready for deployment for enforcement purposes. This will also enhance our search and rescue operation, and port and flag state administration amongst others.

In order to attend to the emergencies that may occur after Search and Rescue operations, the Agency has built two brand new Search and Base clinics of international standard at Azare Crescent, Apapa and Kirikiri. We are hopeful to commission it soon. The hospital is not for NIMASA or Nigeria, but for the original Regional States, NIMASA is in charge of nine countries in terms of Search and Rescue. The hospital is of high international standard, and we hope to treat all calibers of patients locally, and internationally, with the state-of-the-art equipment the facility will possess, when completed.

In the area of our Flag and Port State Administration, at the inception of the administration, there was no single vessel for enforcement. Today, we have built seven brand new bulletproof boats and we expect them to have completed the building. They are being built in Spain, and we are hoping that before the end of March, we will receive and commission the vessel.

As soon as the vessels are commissioned, there will be enhanced enforcement performance; and we plan to divide the use of the vessels; not only in Lagos but also in other zones of the Agency. All these will cater for the issue of safety.

Maritime security

Before 2019, we do not have law, separate law that tries these offenders and criminals that we arrest those involved in piracy and kidnapping.

Therefore, we are trying to get this formal Act Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Related Offences (SPOMO) Act signed by Mr. President in June 2019. As of today, we have secured convictions under this Act. This has also served as a deterrent to would-be criminals.

To further deter these criminalities on the waterways and make our youths gainfully employed, the Agency engaged the Marine Litter Marshals Usually;

In the area of education, the Agency introduced the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP). The Nigerian NSDP development program is a capacity development programme.

Now in order to ensure that we do not forget our own training institution in Nigeria, we have improved our interface with the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron. The Agency’s statutory funding of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria in Oron has been on point since 2020.

We have Simulators, among other state-of-the-art facilities, and the funding by NIMASA has been unhindered. This is in addition to other private maritime institutions, the private like Charkins, which are now also coming up with a lot of accreditation of diplomas and other short-term certificates that we are doing locally, saving foreign exchange that we are having.

In addition to this initiative, the Agency created skill acquisition centres across six geopolitical zones. For the South-West we have Lagos, in the South-East we have Anambra, for South-South we have Bayelsa, in the North-East, we have Maiduguri, Borno state; for North-West we have Kaduna State, for North Central we have Kwara.

So, all these skill acquisition centers have the capacity of training younger Nigerians on different aspects of professionalism under that. This is to help trim the number of this criminality in our own territorial waters. Records, therefore, show that from the third quarter of 2021 until date, we have never recorded one single attack in our own territorial water.

Impact of Deep Blue project on Nigeria’s piracy war

On 08 March 2022, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) decided to remove Nigeria from its Piracy List in view of the dramatic reduction in the number of reported incidents of piracy in Nigerian waters.

 Following the report attributing the improvement in security to the efforts of the Nigerian Navy, the Chief of Naval Staff of the Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, said:

“We will sustain the tempo of our Maritime Security Operations efforts. As you are all aware, the NN is the cardinal institution in the maritime sector that has the responsibility to lead the national response and prosecution of maritime threats.

maritime threats.

” I am bold to say that the NN made giant strides in ensuring the security of the nation’s maritime environment.

” It is heart-warming to note the significant decline in piracy attacks by 77 percent on Nigerian waters as reflected in the International Maritime Bureau (IBM) Third Quarter 2021 report.

” I am glad to notify you that the latest IMB report (just last week) shows that Nigeria has exited the IMB Piracy List.

“However, considering the NN’s lead role in the regional effort at combating piracy and armed attack against shipping, the Service will not relent.

” Also, the NN’s effort at containing piracy in the nation’s maritime domain has earned us commendation by the Office of the National Security Adviser on behalf of the President Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

The reduction in the number of incidents reported in the region has been significant, with no attacks recorded in Nigerian territorial waters or Exclusive Economic Zone since November 2021 and just four incidents being reported in the whole of the last 12-month period – one each in April, June, October, and November.

In light of the developments highlighted above, and given that Nigerian waters have not witnessed such low levels of piracy in any 12-month period since 2006, is there credible evidence to suggest that piracy in Nigeria is a thing of the past?

Deep Blue project as the game changer

The much-vaunted Deep Blue project that married NIMASA operations with those of the Nigerian Navy has been claimed to have changed the security dynamics in quantum leaps.  However, it has not been possible to find any substantive evidence that the Deep Blue project now dominates the maritime environment off the coast of Nigeria.

International patrols – Danish naval action

The presence of international warships in the region was certainly a game-changer in 2021.  Several interactions between western and Chinese warships and vessels under attack were reported.  The intervention that perhaps had the greatest impact was that of the Danish frigate Esbern Snare, which intercepted a PAG while in the act of attacking a commercial vessel deep off the coast of Nigeria in November 2021.  The incident resulted in four pirates being killed and five being taken into custody.  There have been no incidents in Nigeria’s EEZ since that event.

International political and commercial pressure

One very interesting possibility is the international pressure that could have been brought to bear through commercial (mainly insurance) channels and also closed diplomatic channels.  The precedent for the latter form of intervention was apparently set when the enduring problem of extended hijacking for cargo theft was brought to an abrupt halt.  The cartels involved in that form of criminality simply ceased operating.  It cannot be ruled out that a similar intervention might have induced the pirate gangs to ‘seek other work’.  The commercial impact that the Lloyds Joint War Risk Committee classification of Nigeria’s waters has had on the Nigerian economy has been significant.  In November 2021, NIMASA stated that it was determined to have the War Risk Insurance Surcharges removed from vessels operating in Nigerian waters.  It cannot be ruled out that the federal authorities identified the big men behind the OCGs responsible for the piracy and persuaded them to ‘seek other work’.

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