Why Jamoh should be the last NIMASA DG

Dr. Bashir Jamoh, NIMASA Director General

By Adegboyega Oni

Nigerian maritime industry in the last one week has been heavily soaked by the news of the appointment of a successor to the immediate past director general of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside. The news came first as a flash in the pan because the presidency was slow to speak and the minister of transport, Rotimi Ameachi, said he ought to know of any replacement to Peterside before the media. But the presidency has since spoken and the ruling party APC has ventilated the appointment and described Dr. Bashir Jamoh as competent to lead the organization.

Change or appointment of leadership in NIMASA is always a struggle. Why it is so is because of the pecks of office the office of the director general commands. Every executive director cites eyes on the seat of the director general and begins to lobby from the very first day of his or her appointment. This has been the trend in NIMASA as it happened during the tenure of Akpobolokemi as no fewer than two executive directors acted as the director general though not confirmed. One of them is languishing in jail for corruption now. Jamoh is not different, and was obvious that he also began the move to occupy the office with various intents by acquisition of leadership position of a professional body and launching of a book showcasing his vast competency. The book launch was well attended by who is who in Nigerian politics.

Who is competent to lead NIMASA? Is Jamoh in the right frame of mind to occupy the position despite many years of work experience in the organisation? Should he not be the last to occupy the post? Was he not part of the Peterside administration that was rudderless as to give account of its financial responsibility to the nation as requested by the National Assembly? Was he not part of the Peterside administration that showed no competency for utilization of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) for its purpose but rather spent billions of naira to acquire anti-piracy boats, not needed in the real sense, to fight piracy, actually not in existence, to protect foreign shipping investments on the Nigerian sea when the Navy is there?

Was Jamoh not part of the Peterside administration that was so passionate about organizing frivolous events daily, weekly and monthly that added no value to the growth of the nation’s local shipping? For four years the Peterside administration lasted, severally millions of naira, hard-earned public funds, was wasted so to say to pay bills for these events while Nigerian indigenous ship owners were being tossed around and subjected to a series of empty and unrealistic CVFF disbursement strategies. Many administrations before Peterside did similar thing. Where was Jamoh despite cognate experience? And where he is now? Soon empty promises will begin to roll out from his exalted seat.

The basic duty of NIMASA is to develop local shipping and enhance participation of the country at the international stage. While NIMASA is celebrating the increase in the number of vessels on its ship register, how many of the vessels belong to Nigerians? The register which ought to be dominated by local shipping companies is fully dominated by foreign vessels. Non-disbursement of CVFF and other efforts of NIMASA during the Peterside administration and administrations before it were deliberately skewed towards creating a monopoly for foreign vessels although at the detriment of non-existing local shipping companies. Was Jamoh not there?

Another evidence of wastage by the last administration is the huge amount of money spent on the beautification of the wall of NIMASA head office at Burma Road in Apapa, Lagos. The speed the Peterside administration deployed to the beautification projects confounded the NIMASA function of maritime development as it was more interested in physical building than human capital development whereas a large number of shipless members of Nigerian indigenous shipping industry were shouting for help to resuscitate their business fortunes. None actually came. Was Jamoh not alive then?  

One of the key functions of NIMASA toward developing the local shipping industry is the provision of safety.  One can say that the Peterside administration stepped up effort in the area of safety but setting up a foreign security apparatus to provide safety on the nation’s sea is injurious to her national territorial safety. Where is the Nigerian Navy? Constitutionally, only the Nigerian Navy is empowered to protect the country’s sea; such security set up by NIMASA should not have been and if it must be, it should be operated by the Navy. Can Israeli government yield its sea to a mere security outfit less equipped than its navy? Only in Nigeria such could happen, courtesy of NIMASA.  NIMASA should limit itself to domestication of the various safety conventions of IMO and allow the Nigerian Navy to implement the conventions particularly the ones that have to do with safety up in the sea. Where was Jamoh when this anomaly was taking place?  

The last anti-piracy boats buy by the Peterside administration was another goof by the administration and a waste of public of funds. And Jamoh was part of it. Before Peterside came on board, a security contract was already in place and a company was given a financial mandate to acquire security vessels to protect the nation’s territorial seas. The boats were acquired and commissioned but were merely used when the administration was sacked and that was the end. The question is, where are the boats? Are they no longer competent to combat sea robbers, not pirates, as one of the Nigerian revered ship captains said there is no piracy on Nigerian sea, that what we have is robbery? Peterside administration should not have wasted public funds again on acquiring new security boats when the ones his predecessor bought had never fired a shot in the sea. This is just a display of penchant for wasting public funds which many a Nigerian public office holder is known for.

What is the NIMASA security helicopter? Can Jamoh tell the Nigerian public where it is?      

From the foregoing, Nigeria should not expect anything good from the Jamoh administration although it is appraised of being competent based on his work experience from the organisation. What can it bring on the table when it was an extension of the last administration? The true is, it is a fish from the same kettle. This is because the head, Dr. Bashir Jamoh could have been affected by the virus of non-performance by the last administration. Helping the Jamoh NIMASA as it were now is that government should take away the management of the CVFF from it and domicile it with the Nigeria Bank of Industry to run as a business. It will be easy for local shipping investors to approach the bank for the CVFF loan than NIMASA which is not a bank but setting the terms for the disbursement. NIMASA is too bogged down by bureaucracy to do that kind of job; its duty should just be a kind of recommendation to the bank.     

This also brings to the fore the relevance of NIMASA as an autonomous organization. NIMASA, with only one function – maritime development – operating many departments, will be better operated and functioned as a department than an entity in a more recognized maritime organization that can coordinate port development and safety administration together effectively in the overall benefit of the nation than splinter bodies of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers Council and NIMASA that are doing similar but noting taking into account that they all yearly budget separately for safety/security on the same sea.

The Port and Harbour Bill should be resuscitated by the government in the National Assembly to collapse all these agencies into one body and save the nation the unpalatable news of power struggle in these agencies and wastage in public funds. When the bill sails through, it should limit appointment of politicians as Jamoh could be seen by the government into the board of directors of any agency that will emanate from the bill and appoint a senior career officer of the agency as the managing director or whatever the name may be with directors to run the organisation. The better it will be for the nation’s maritime industry.

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