The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has said it is ever committed to providing safety and security on the nation’s maritime domain in line with its core mandate but regretted that some foreign media reports on piracy, sea robbery and hijacks were being hyped for ulterior economic reasons.
Director-General of the agency, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, who played host to members of the House of Representatives Committee on Marine Transport, hinted that the agency has undertaken certain crucial steps towards fighting sea piracy and other forms of illegalities on the nation’s territorial waters.
According to him, as part of the commitment in reducing the trend to the barest minimum, the agency is currently collaborating with relevant security agencies and has also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Nigerian Air Force to complement an existing MoU with the Nigerian Navy, among others.
He however told the legislators to ignore some foreign media reports on the activities of pirates and other criminals on Nigeria’s waters, which he said were either designed to undermine the agency or for other selfish economic benefits such as arbitrary increase in insurance premium on Nigeria-bound cargoes by some foreign interests.
“Not all reported cases of hijacks, piracy and robbery on our waters are genuine. Some of these cases are hyped to undermine us and shore-up insurance premium to Nigeria. I am not saying that piracy does not occur in our domain, but it is exaggerated. We are working tirelessly to reduce piracy and illicit crimes on our waterways to the barest minimum through these collaborative efforts”, the DG assured.
He also said that based on its four-point agenda, the agency is committed to repositioning Nigeria to become the best maritime nation in Africa by the year 2020. While fielding questions from the legislators on 2013 budget implementation, he hinted that the budget performance of the agency in terms of revenue generation showed an improved performance as at October 31, 2013 compared to the figures of last year, insisting that the agency would meet its target before the end of the fiscal year.
Chairman of the committee, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi while speaking during the visit, observed that the agency has been spending more on capital projects rather than overhead, describing the trend as a necessity for all sectors of the Nigerian economy if the nation is to move forward.
Mr. Ugwuanyi, who said the visit was in line with its oversight function, commended the agency for its strict budget implementation and pledged to continue to support NIMASA in order to ensure maximum efficiency in the transformation of the maritime industry.
The Committee also applauded the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme, NSDP, of the agency, describing it as a veritable tool for wealth creation and pledged its unflinching support for youth development in the industry.
While speaking on the Coastal and Inland Shipping, Cabotage, Act, Ugwuanyi said the committee had noted the concerns of the agency towards an amendment to the law to make it more adaptable to the Nigerian maritime realities.
“We have noted your concerns about the Cabotage Act and have already made a presentation to the House Committee on Rules and Business. Very soon, the amendments will be presented to the House for consideration”, he assured.