By Victor Ahiuma-Young
MARITIME Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, has petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives, warning of the inherent dangers of pending Bill in House, known as Maritime Security Agency, MASECA Bill.
In a petition, the union lamented that the Bill being sponsored by some unidentified powerful individuals in the country had been presented to the House in various guises starting from 2009, 2011 and currently 2017 and been totally rejected by the stakeholders in the sector as it would amount to among others, duplicating functions of Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency, NIMASA, Nigerian Navy and waste of nation’s scarce resources.
The union however threatened to cripple the nation’s ports if the bill is passed in defiance of its total rejection by the stakeholders, saying “we shall be compelled to shut down our Sea Ports nationwide in protest over the imposition.”
The petition by President-General and Secretary-General of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju and Felix Akingboye respectively, recalled “that in January 2010 a Draft Bill captioned Maritime Security (Establishment) Bill 2009 was proposed. This Draft Bill was presented to the National Assembly and Public hearing was held on same 13th January 2010. Stake holders were united in rejecting this Bill on the ground that the Authority, functions and financing of the proposed Agency is a clear duplication of an existing Federal Government Agency i.e. Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency, NIMASA.
“We are alarmed that in spite of the total rejection of this Draft Bill by the Stake holders, another strong move is being made by few but powerful self seekers to actualise their dream of a parallel Maritime Security and Safety Agency to the detriment of our National interest. We members of the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria, in our capacity first as Nigerians and as Workers who do not have any other Country other than Nigeria convey to you our absolute protest against this Bill which is a potential drain pipe to our National resources that ought to be channelled into fixing decayed infrastructures, challenges of frightening in-security in the land, massive youth unemployment, fixing of the power sector, the unsafe access to the Nation Sea Ports etc.
“We cannot afford to watch passively while such amount of money is diverted to the duplication of an existing Agency. It is on the basis of this that we call on the Speaker and other members to throw out this Bill once and for all. We wish to state that Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) since its inception has been able to restore sanity in the Maritime Sector in conjunction with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and therefore deserves to be encouraged.
“Considering the importance of Maritime security in International trade, we strongly advise that rather than engage in duplication of Government Agencies as portended by the Draft Bill, the present section/department of NIMASA engaged in Security/Safety Services be strengthened and professionalized through appropriate manning for greater efficiency and performance.
“Fortunately, the Nigerian Armed forces are organised along the key modes of transportation in Nigeria in such a professional way that the Nigerian Air Force solely manns the Nigerian Airspace, the Nigerian Army manns the Nigerian land territory while the Nigerian Navy actively keep surveillance on our territorial waters. It is noteworthy that NIMASA has been effectively collaborating with the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police in this regard. We strongly recommend that NIMASA be strengthened to carry out its statutory functions unhindered. We call on the Speaker to permanently halt this Bill. If however the bill is passed in defiance of its total rejection by the stakeholders, we shall be compelled to shut down our Sea Ports Nationwide in protest over the imposition.”