On March 10, 2020, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Jamoh became the 6th Director General of the agency. On assumption of office, the Jamoh led administration hit the ground running with a triple -S agenda, namely, Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Shipping Development, in line with the Agency’s mandate.
Three years after, Jamoh through a combination of hard work and effective collaboration across the various levels of government in the nation and sub region has proved his mettle, achieving probably, what his predecessors could not achieve.
A major success of the Jamoh led administration at NIMASA within his three years in office is the improved security in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
From 82 cases of piracy recorded in Nigerian waters in 2018, 61 in 2019, 81 in 2020, down to 34 in 2021, and zero in 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, the Jamoh led administration has continued to sustain the tempo through improved international collaboration and partnership with the Nigerian Navy.
Other accomplishments under the current dispensation in the area of maritime security is the launch of the Deep Blue Project by President Muhammadu Buhari, the use of the SPOMO Act to successfully prosecute criminals and pirates and Nigeria’s removal from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy red list as well as the International Bargaining Forum’s (IBF) unsafe waters list.
The Deep Blue Project assets which have been instrumental in the fight against piracy is classified into three with over 254 personnel drawn from military and paramilitary organizations. These are: Marine, Land and Air Assets.
Marine Assets: Special Mission Vessels – 2 (DB Abuja and DB Lagos) and 17 fast intervention boats.
Air Assets: 3 Special Mission Helicopters, 2 Special Mission Aircrafts and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Land Assets: 17 Armored Vehicles.
Other facilities are Command, Control, Computer, Communication and Intelligence (C4i) Centre. Various training facilities (Shooting Range, C4i Training Centre etc.) have also been organized for all personnel in the deep blue project on the assets and facilities.
Before the enactment of the SPOMO Act in 2019, Nigeria did not have a separate law or guidelines that tried criminals involved in piracy and kidnapping, hence it was almost impossible to prosecute pirates.
However, as of today, the SPOMO Act has made it possible to develop guidelines that simplify the process of prosecuting pirates in court with a number of convictions secured.
To further deter criminalities on the waterways and make youths gainfully employed, NIMASA under Jamoh’s leadership has engaged 1,190 Marine Litter Marshals Usually.
In the area of education, the Agency introduced the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) with 2041 students enrolled since inception in 2009.
The number of officers (Graduates) completely trained under the NSDP programme from inception is 656. While 625 individuals have obtained their Certificate of Competence (CoC), 31 others were Naval Architects.
In order to ensure that the training institutions in Nigeria are not neglected, NIMASA under Jamoh’s leadership has improved its interface with the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron while its statutory 5 percent funding of the Academy has been on since 2020.
As such, MAN Oron can now boast of the state-of-the-art facilities including simulators to train cadets. This is in addition to other private maritime institutions, including Charkins, that are now also coming up with a lot of accreditations of diplomas and other short-term certificates issued locally, thereby saving foreign exchange.
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, for North-East, we have Maiduguri, Borno state; for North-West we have Kaduna State, for North Central we have Kwara.
The skill acquisition centers have the capacity of training young Nigerians on different aspects of professionalism under it. This is to help trim the number of criminalities in the nation’s territorial waters. Records therefore show that from the third quarter of 2021 until date, Nigeria has never recorded one single attack in its territorial water.
The Federal Executive Council, at the end of the last quarter of 2021, approved the wreck removals from Badagry axis up to the Tincan Island.
Again, in the first quarter of 2022, the Federal Executive Council approved the removal of the entire wrecks in the other zones of Nigeria, comprising Western zone with headquarters in Lagos, Eastern zone headquarters in Port Harcourt and then central Zone headquarters in Warri. All these projects have achieved major milestones.
NIMASA under Jamoh’s leadership engaged the Nigerian Navy Naval Dockyard in Lagos to repair the agency’s operational vessels, Millennia 1 and Millennium 2. Today both vessels and five others are almost ready for deployment for enforcement purposes. This will help enhance NIMASA search and rescue operation, port and flag state administration amongst others.
In order to attend to the emergencies that may occur after a Search and Rescue Operations, the Agency has built two brand new Search and Base clinics of international standard at Azare Crescent, Apapa and Kirikiri. It is expected to be commissioned soon.
The hospital is not only for NIMASA or Nigeria, but the original Regional States, NIMASA being in charge of nine countries in Search and Rescue operation. The hospital is of high international standard, and it is expected 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 Flag and Port State Administration, at the inception of the administration, there was no single vessel for enforcement. Today, the Agency has built seven brand-new bullet-proof boats. The vessels, which are being built in Spain, are expected to be received and commissioned before the end of March.
The vessels after its commissioning will be deployed not only in Lagos but also to other zones of the Agency to enhance enforcement performance and cater for the issue of safety.
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 import and exports of goods and services.
NIMASA under the Jamoh led administration is poised to advance shipping by ensuring a conducive environment for commercial shipping and encouraging more indigenous participation in the global shipping trade.
The disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) is also underway following presidential approval and primary lending institutions appointed. With terms of accessing the fund being finalized, it is expected that disbursement will commence by second quarter 2023.