By Omenihu Alfred Fibmn

In a recent press briefing held on Friday, 28th January, 2022 in Lagos, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr Bashir Yusuf Jamoh revealed that Piracy, sea robbery and other Maritime related crimes across the Golf of Guinea will continue to witness a sharp decline putting into consideration the Agency’s efforts in conjunction with other stakeholders. He further stated that lots of strategies are in the pipe line to assure better delivery by the agency in 2022.

According to NIMASA DG the piracy figures released last year by the IMB shows that Nigeria in particular and the Gulf of Guinea in general has not recorded this level of decline in piracy and other maritime crimes since 1994, hence he credited this sharp drop to a combination of factors including efforts of the 25-member nations of the Gulf of Guinea, collaborations of the agency, the Nigerian Navy, the international navies, the European Union and many other countries of the world and importantly the deployment of the Deep Blue Project assets which he said played a significant role.

“Recently, Korea donated a military ship to us but we require $1.4million to bring it to Nigeria. Japan is also planning to donate similar equipment to us.”

Dr Jamoh said though the agency has deployed all the maritime security assets under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure also called the Deep Blue Project, all the assets are yet to be fully operational ; noting that the Federal Government’s Steering Committee on the implementation of the maritime security initiatives, co-chaired by the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Federal Ministry of Defence is currently developing an organogramm, after which all the deployed security assets would be fully operational.

He stated that, the organogramm would define responsibilities under maritime security initiative, especially between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy being the two principal sectors in the management of the country’s waterways security infrastructure. The DG further noted that the Deep Blue Project assets are not for maritime security alone but are equally meant to complement what the Nigerian Navy is doing in terms of providing security on the nation’s territorial waters.

Calling back to be mind, it will be recalled that President Buhari had last year launched the assets under the project, some of which had been deployed since February last year to combat piracy on land, air and sea within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone EEZ.

The ever articulate DG siezed the opportunity to appreciate Maritime Journalists as partners in progress and wished them a belated happy new year. He equally took time to enumerate the achievement of the agency in 2021 not minding the effect of the global pandemic which was characterized with series of lock-downs and negative effect on global economy. He stated that that under condition survey, 489 vessels were surveyed in 2021 which represents a 43.6 percent increase in comparison with the 276 vessels surveyed in 2020. Again, he noted that for the port state control functions of the agency, 429 foreign vessels were boarded to ensure that each vessel maintained safety, pollution standards while at Nigeria ports and waters.

“The figure of vessels recorded under port state implementation for the year under review stands at 675 which is 24.2 per cent higher than the 510 vessels inspections carried out in 2020,” he reaffirmed. He equally mentioned that plans are in progress for the privatisation of the moribund modular floating dockyard which will be on Public Private Partnership (PPP), arrangement as well he assures stakeholders of the maritime industry that the floating dock will be operational before the end of first quarter of 2022.

“we don’t want to operate it by government or NIMASA alone but as Public Private Partnership”.F

Dr Jamoh disclosed that the Nigerian Ports Authority is a co partner in the process with provision of its Continental Shipyard.

“We have been undergoing this process, and the DG ICRC was here for the first certificate, telling us that privatisation of the floating dock is profitable,doable and they gave us the go ahead to do that.

“We have also gone ahead with the Managing partner and co-pattern, which is the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA, with the provision of Continental Shipyard. We expect in no distance future maximum by February 2022.”

According to the erudite scholar, privatisation must be approved by the Federal Executive Council because it’s a national asset, explaining that the cost implications cannot be handled by the federal government alone.