The Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Temisan Omatseye and other maritime stakeholders have move against the proposed Maritime Security Agency, otherwise known as the MASECA bill.
Omatseye said that the proposed bill on MASECA was just a replica of another NIMASA warning the promulgation of the bill into law will create more problem for both the maritime industry and nation’s security agencies.
And in a petition to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), warned of inherent dangers of the Bill.
Amaechi, who was represented by Mallam Shehu Aliyu urged the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration which conducted a public hearing on the bill to step down the bill, adding that creating another agency similar to NIMASA will create additional burden on the federal government.
Amaechi also said that NIMASA is well structured with a reservoir of expertise to manage, supervise and protect the maritime industry.
“This therefore has both intended and unintended consequences for the administration of the maritime sector. Allowing two parallel agencies to operate within the same sector will most likely create confusion in the industry.
“In most cases, there are deliberate provisions in the Bill to either emasculate the well structured operation of NIMASA or completely make certain provision of NIMASA ineffectual,” the minister said.
Similarly, the chairman of the Nigeria Seafarers Welfare Board, Otunba, Kunle Folarin, said maritime business is international, if the bill is passed into law for any reason, it will make Nigeria a laughing stock before the comity of maritime nations.
For the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, at the Public hearing, said it is not in support of the creation of the proposed MASECA, but advocated collaboration with NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy be strengthened. In its 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 in 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 NIMASA, Nigerian Navy and waste of nation’s scarce resources.
The union 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 seaports nationwide in protest over the imposition.”
The petition signed 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 channeled 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 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.”