House Committee Commends NIMASA DG, Urges President Tinubu to give him Second term

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Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime Safety Education and Administration, Hon Uduak Odudoh (7th from right) Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, Mrs Jean Chiazor Anishere and other members of the committee in a group photograph after the workshop on Blue Economy in Lagos on Friday

By Innocent Orok

The House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration has commended the efforts of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in carrying out its regulatory role in the Nigerian maritime domain.

The Committee lead by the Vice Chairman, Hon. Uduak Alphonsus Ududoh also promised to expedite action in amendment of the NIMASA Act and other maritime laws to align with the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

DG, NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh chatting with Hon. Wale Oke, after the workshop.

The House committee gave the assurance during a capacity building training workshop organised by NIMASA for the Committee members in Lagos on Friday. The theme of the workshop was ” Harnessing the Nation’s Blue Economy: A Legislative Approach “.

Hon. Uduak Ududoh, assured that the committee with the support of the National Assembly will accelerate the amendment of obsolete laws including the Cabotage and fisheries acts to unlock the economic potential of Nigeria’s maritime resources.

He expressed confidence that by amending these laws and once signed by the President, they would significantly contribute to improving Nigeria’s economy particularly the development of the blue economy.

“In the areas of laws that are obsolete, those that are supposed to be amended and those that were worked on in the previous assembly but were yet to be assented to by the President, we are going to urgently look at them.

“We will go back home and look at the areas and I am assuring Nigerians that with the caliber of members we have in the committee and by extension, the entire national assembly, we will do the needful. These laws, when they are amended, and finally signed by Mr. President, will go a long way to improve the economic situation of this country, especially in the area of the blue economy,” he said.

Earlier in her presentation on “Legal Requirement For Nigeria’s Blue Economy,” maritime lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mrs. Jean Chiazor Anishere, emphasized the need for a robust policy framework for Nigeria to fully harness the vast potential of the blue economy and achieve international best practices.

She stressed the need to review the NIMASA Act pointing out that despite being under the jurisdiction of the marine and blue economy ministry, the act is still supervised by the Minister of Transportation.

Anishere also drew attention to the fisheries and aquaculture sector, which she identified as another vital component of the blue economy.

She emphasized the need for a comprehensive review of legal regulations governing these sectors to ensure they align with the objectives of the blue economy policy.

The learned silk argued that without a thorough review of existing regulations, the efforts aimed at harnessing the potential of the blue economy could face challenges and result in suboptimal outcomes.

She said, ” The cabotage Act 2003 was meant to enable Nigerian ship owners to participate in the industry. The policy is good in terms of empowerment of indigenous operators, ship owners, but then there is an embargo of some sort to that policy. How do we harness the blue economy regulation as it relates to the cabotage Act? We don’t have a shipping line. That is one of the problems that we have in the cabotage Act that will affect our taking the potential of the blue economy.

“The second challenge is funding. When you talk about empowerment. We need the funds that will enable the indigenous ship owners to acquire the right vessels to take the benefit of the cabotage Act. And so the draftsmen of the cabotage Act 2003 also conceptualize the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) which sadly, is yet to be implemented. So we need to ensure that we implement the cabotage fund and therefore will be able to encourage the indigenous shipowners to harness the potentials of the blue economy.

“Another regulation is in the NIMASA Act. NIMASA as we all know is the regulatory body that helps to ensure the safety of our waters and protection of the environment. But the interesting part of it in the NIMASA Act is the fact that if we look closely at the regulation or the Act of NIMASA we’ll see that the NIMASA’s duties are being supervised by the Minister for transportation. So there is a need to review that act if we’re talking about the blue economy.

“If we have a marine and blue economy ministry and NIMASA, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and NIWA are all agencies under the marine and blue economic policy, surely, it has become moribund for us to say that NIMASA act will be governed by the Ministry of Transport.So that is one flaw that needs to be corrected.”

“The same goes for the fisheries and aquaculture, So unless and until we review these regulations and policies, harnessing the blue economy will be a fiasco.”

Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, in his presentation highlighted the agency’s performance in key areas of its three point agenda focusing on Maritime Safety, Maritime Security and Shipping Development.

While emphasizing the agency’s commitment to maritime security, Jamoh informed the legislators NIMASA’s contribution to Nigeria recording zero piracy incidents over the past two years.

He also disclosed the ongoing efforts to submit the SPOMO Act for amendments, aligning it with the evolving needs of the maritime industry.

Jamoh also updated the lawmakers on NIMASA’s achievement in maritime safety and seafarers development.

At the end of the workshop, the Committee members were full of praises for Dr Bashir Jamoh for having enough knowledge on the Nigeria Blue Economy project and they urges President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to give him a second term to continue the good works.

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