By Chukwudi Ejimofor
On March 10, President Muhammadu Buhari demonstrated once again his focus on a robust maritime regulatory agency in Nigeria with the appointment of Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh as the sixth Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) since the merger of National Maritime Authority with Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council to form NIMASA. Jamoh took over from Dr. Dakuku Peterside whose four-year term ended March 10, reports CHUKWUDI EJIMOFOR in PORT HARCOURT.
In appointing Peterside as the helmsman in 2016, President Buhari demanded a turn-around in the fortunes of NIMASA that had been bedeviled with all manner of controversies and maladministration.
After four years of steadying the ship of the regulatory agency, the president has now appointed a thoroughbred professional to take NIMASA to the next level. Indeed, Dr. Bashir Jamoh can appropriately be regarded as a homeboy, judging from his vast knowledge of the maritime industry and long service in the Agency.
Jamoh is currently the President of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIOTA) and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Port Harcourt, specialising in Logistics and Transport Management. He also has a Master’s Degree in Management from Korea Maritime and Ocean University, Post Graduate Diploma in Management Sciences from Bayero University Kano, and a Diploma in Accounting from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
He is the author of maritime reference book, “Harnessing Nigeria’s Maritime Assets; Past, Present And Future,” and has over 32 years of both professional and technical experience in the sector in addition to close working relationship with stakeholders in the industry.
Jamoh was appointed alongside Rt. Hon Victor Ochei, an Engineer and lawyer as Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services; Shehu Ahmed, a seasoned administrator and technocrat as Executive Director, Operations; and Chudi Offodile, a Lawyer, author and politician as Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
Chief Okorie Asita, a former member of the House of Reps, will head the NIMASA board as chairman.
Perhaps, of very significant importance is the handover from Dr. Peterside to Dr Jamoh the first time there has been such a convivial atmosphere in the change of baton at the Burma Road, Apapa Head Office of the Agency.
In a brief but historic handing over ceremony, Jamoh, who was the immediate past Executive Director, Finance and Administration, at the Agency, lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for believing in merit, continuity and expertise in making appointments.
“First and foremost, I want to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari and his team for finding me worthy of this appointment. It simply shows that the President believes in continuity, and the need to ensure that technocrats are given opportunities to serve under his leadership,” he stated.
He assured stakeholders in maritime industry of his unwavering dedication to the progress of the industry, adding that the maritime sector offers a major platform for economic growth and development.
The new DG promised to build on the successes achieved by the outgoing Executive Management, of which he was part of for the last four years.
In his valedictory speech, the immediate past DG, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said having ended his tenure, he could not wish for a better person to take over from him than Jamoh, whom he described as a man with vast “institutional knowledge” of the industry.
“Today I am happy that President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen Dr. Bashir Jamoh to succeed me in office. I cannot wish for a better person to succeed me because of Dr. Bashir’s immense knowledge and commitment to the growth of the sector cannot be overemphasized and I am sure he would continue our good works,” Dakuku stated.
Perhaps the best way to further judge the widespread acceptance of the new Board and management are reactions from the industry players from within and without NIMASA.
Stakeholders lauded the new team, while stating that President Muhammadu Buhari’s focus on expertise in their choice was a signpost of better days ahead for the industry.
Indeed, no one can debate whether the management and board are competent. Each of the appointees is an accomplished technocrat in his field with vast experience in administration, management and project delivery.
A courtesy visit to the new Director General at the Agency’s Headquarters in Lagos, a shipping expert, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, commended President Buhari for listening to the cry of industry practitioners by appointing a Technocrat to lead the foremost maritime regulatory agency in the country.
He opined: “Stakeholders are happy because Dr. Jamoh is somebody who has been in the industry for ages and together with the pedigree of his team, we are sure NIMASA would do well to move the industry forward and we have to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for giving us this strong team,” Iheanacho stated.
He urged the new management to focus on the Agency’s core functions, particularly in the area of safety and seaworthiness of vessels, while taking seriously the issues of maritime labour and promotion of indigenous shipping to help grow the nation’s maritime industry.
Another experienced maritime player,
The Managing Director/CEO of Starz Marine, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, praised the appointment of Jamoh, saying he has the experience and expertise to steer the affairs of the Agency successfully.
“As an experienced Bureaucrat and the industry’s expert with a grounded knowledge of the maritime sector through practical experience and field knowledge, we believe that your appointment is not only a personal honor, but an opportunity for you to apply these attributes in leading NIMASA to the next level. We’re happy that your appointment is surely a case of a round peg in a round hole,” Ogbeifun stressed.
In his remarks, Jamoh said he was committed to ensuring that the Nigerian maritime sector gained its rightful place in the comity of successful maritime nations. He assured of the unwavering zeal of the new executive management to ensure that NIMASA is focused on innovative and stakeholder-driven policies.
“We know without the support of stakeholders there is little or nothing we can do. So we urge you to cooperate with us because we are willing and ready to return the Nigeria maritime sector to the place it belongs among the leading maritime communities in the world,” Jamoh assured.
At a similar event, stakeholders charted a path to a progressive maritime sector, to be championed by the new management team of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMSA).
Former President, Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Aminu Umar, urged Jamoh and his management team to address insecurity in Nigeria’s maritime domain, and build indigenous capacity.
According to him, “One of the issues that have been on the front burner for shipping is Sea Piracy. We cannot discuss enough the damage that Piracy is doing to us presently in all the sectors of the maritime industry. We will love the DG and his management to take this as their priority to promote and protect the interest of indigenous shipowners,” Umar posited.
The Chairman Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Hasstrup, sought the intervention of the NIMASA Boss for the relocation of tank farms from the port area, stressing that the concentration of tank farms within the Port environment poses a dangerous threat to the Port businesses.
She said, “We are sitting on a keg of gun powder. It is only in Nigeria that I see tank farms sitting in the middle of a city. We have almost 63 tank farms sitting right in Apapa. Can you imagine if just one of the tank farms blows up? We need the tank farms to be relocated. Please help us inform appropriate authorities to relocate the tank farms far away from the port area.” Princess Hasstrup solicited.
Also speaking, Chairman, Shipowners Forum, Mrs. Magret Onyema-Orakwusi urged the NIMASA boss to revive the moribund Nigerian Maritime Expo (NIMAREX) to enable Nigeria to showcase the potentials of the maritime industry to investors.
In a similar vein, a maritime group, LOMEP urged NIMASA to address the challenges confronting indigenous operators in the shipping sector.
In the letter signed by its President, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke, and Secretary, Mr. Francis Ugwoke, the group stated that the cabotage shipping regime introduced in 2003 had not impacted positively on the growth of the sector.
The group stated, ”There is no doubt the cabotage shipping regime introduced in 2003 has not impacted positively on the growth of the indigenous shipping sector.
“This is because of the fact that the business of so many indigenous shipping companies has been comatose due to poor enforcement of the regime.
“NIMASA as the apex maritime agency under your leadership, therefore, has a role to play to make the law work. To achieve this, we advise that you first ensure that illegal vessels operating on the nation’s waters with claims of having waivers are checked.”
The group lauded Jamoh’s appointment and described it as well deserved considering his record in the maritime industry.
The task before the new team is without doubt surmountable and with the quality of those on board, it does not require a soothsayer to know that they will succeed in taking NIMASA to the next level.
While expressing appreciation for the confidence reposed in him by industry stakeholders, he said the task ahead in repositioning the agency is not an easy one and called on stakeholders to collaborate and support his administration.
He said: “We have our own mandate. We need your assistance and support to be able to actualise this mandate. Your support, understanding, and guidance are always going to be our watchword. I cannot do it alone. Join me and support me to get these things right to reposition the agency for the betterment of us all. I assure you we will do everything possible not to fail you.”