By Moses Nosike
AS part of the on-going reform on capacity building in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the regulatory authority has intensified efforts at ensuring that the necessary long awaited reform is achieved in the Agency and in line with international standard.
According to the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, the only way we can overcome the agency challenges and deliver results to government and Nigerians is to intensify our efforts with good attitude to work. We need to sacrifice our time for service delivery. If we are supposed to sleep eight hours we have to reduce that to four hours in order to show results for the government and people of Nigeria and also our international friends.
Our Set Goals
Akpobolokemi without mincing words said, our goals are precisely drawn from our mandate anchored in the four point agenda which has to do with capacity building in terms of empowering the local people in their businesses, creation of employment opportunity for Nigerians within the maritime sector(05:12) leveraging on it, training of young men and women in regulated maritime fields so that the human capacity gap can be improved within some period of time and that is why we are establishing maritime university and also channeling more resources into the existing Maritime Academy.
We are by law to give five per cent of our statutory three per cent [05:49] levy to the maritime academy. When I took over, they were owed moneys from 2009, 2010 and there about and as we stand, from 2012 down all those backlogs were cleared and in addition, we went ahead last year to give an intervention fund to the maritime academy, Oron outside the statutory obligation. This year outside the statutory obligation that we must do, we have an approved budget of two billion intervention fund for MAN, Oron all geared towards building capacity.
Therefore, working to actualize our goals, we are seriously developing more new academies, even though one is having some issues which we are trying to resolve, I mean the one of Badagry. The other one has no problems so we are continuing with activities geared towards construction, bush clearing etc. The idea is to help close the human capacity gap compared to what our contemporaries have. Now in the area of maritime security, Akpobolokemi said, our vision is to make our workers safe and without mincing words, we’ve been able to achieve that largely, particularly in the Lagos area. Now we are seriously moving to the Niger Delta area where some activities that are not too good for the development of the maritime sector [07:42] are on. So that is the area, in the area of oil theft which we are also involved in stopping, we are on top of the matter and we are making progress in collaboration with other security agencies.
In marine environment management, we’ve been able to get twelve laws gazetted which has given us the legal authorization in enforcing marine environment laws and as we speak, some vessels deployed in managing marine environment have started coming.
In order to help the on-going construction, we have purchased equipment so that we should be able to manage our marine environment. All these things are going on at the same time to give us the desired result. We are not saying that we have gotten where we want to but good steps are being taken to guarantee success in all areas from our mandate.
My biggest achievement is in the area of human capacity development. Last year we sent over five hundred Nigerian youths for B.Sc programme in maritime fields such as naval architecture, marine engineering, nautical sciences etc. This year also, we have sent more than a hundred and this will be on-going to intensify this drive and with the rate at which we are going I believe in the next ten years at least in Africa, we should be the greatest factor to be reckoned with in terms of human capacity building.
When you take that side by side with the amount of resources we are spending on our maritime academy in some years to come, it will ease out the challenges we have with the liquidation of Nigeria National Shipping Line. These are some of the major achievements because you may have the ships, you may have the vessels, you may have everything but without the human capacity operations you may not properly be organised. At least, with what we have been able to put in place in the industry, I believe in a few years to come, our domestic trade would boost our manpower to take over the industry in domestic trade.
According to him, what we are trying to do is to establish a culture of transparency in NIMASA, so that it will no longer be business as usual, but deep coherence in running government activities, functions or business and today as I speak, we have the requisite manpower to get the nod of IMO in core things that we are doing because master mariners that hitherto were the major problem, we have them now. We’ve been able to employ the marine engineers, the surveyors that we lacked previously. We’ve got them. So the issue of manpower deficiency is now a thing of the past.
So what we have is sufficient enough for us to make a difference locally and internationally.
The agency has also succeeded in engaging some youths for employment as part of our success in NIMASA. Today, people become interested in maritime issues in the country because of the level of awareness we have been able to create in villages or communities as we plan to bring more persons to the industry and in time to come, the industry will continue to grow by what is being done today.