· Anaroke bows out as President, LOMEP lists achievements
· Okorefe calls for unbundling of Transport Ministry
· Chairman, PCC, Folarin Seeks tinkering with import prohibition list
The security situation at the Gulf of Guinea(GoG) seems to continue to improve by the day such that by this August,2022 no single incident of ship attack by pirates has been recorded, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh has declared.
The anticipation of attacks and the consequent anxiety and monitoring followed a 27- year old record of consistent but continual invasion of commercial vessels plying the GoG by the highly dreaded pirates.
Speaking at the 2022 Annual General Meeting(AGM)and Lecture of the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers(LOMEP) which took place at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria(ASCON), Badagry, Lagos, last week, Jamoh said that the issue of maritime security is of paramount importance to the nation even though “We have reached an important milestone now. As at today, we are in August, and we have not recorded any single attack at the GoG contrary to what it used to be. As at December, 2020, we used to have on the average one attack per day. From January to December,2021 it hit a 27- year old record of attacks.
“However, it started to improve from then till today. This is a commendable feat. So we ensure that we support any activity that will improve security situation in the country and that explains why I had to attend the security event before coming down here.
Demonstrating the less risky nature of the waterways now, perhaps over the road, he said, “I had to enter the naval dockyard for a boat with which I came to Badagry through the waterways.”
Meanwhile, also speaking at the occasion, a lecturer at Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, Mr Charles Okorefe, has called on the Federal Government to unbundle the Federal Ministry of Transportation to properly drive the development of the sector.
The theme of the event was:” The Role of Technology in Trade Facilitation and Smuggling Suppression”.
According to him, the government should create a ministry of maritime transport and a ministry of land transport, to effectively manage the road and rail transportation.
He said the creation of the maritime ministry would catalyze the development of the maritime sector and mainstream trade facilitation as key focus for the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) and other trade relevant agencies.
“This measure would create sharper focus on the development of the nation’s ports, shipping and maritime sector in general.
“It will also maximize the utility of the nation’s coastal and inland waterways for the nation’s Cabotage trade.
“This will adequately position the nation for effective participation in Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA),” he said.
He added that the unbundling of the ministry would also enhance the development of land transportation and encourage importers and exporters of goods to make use of other transport systems to convey their goods to different parts of the country.
On the role of technology in effective border monitoring, Okorefe urged the government to deploy drones, body cameras and others, in the monitoring activities at the border posts.
Okorefe also urged the government to enlist the cooperation of border communities to strengthen security and check smuggling at the nation’s borders.
In his remarks,the chairman, Port Consultative Council, Chief Kunle Folarin, who was the chairman of the occasion, urged the Federal Government to relax the ban placed on some goods entering the country.
According to him, despite the total ban on the importation of rice and frozen products, they are still finding their way into the country.
He commended the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers for organizing the lecture as part of their Annual General Meeting.
Maritime experts, representatives of Seme Command of NCS and FOU Zone A, Ikeja Command were present at the event.
At the AGM, Mr, Kingsley Anaroke, after a successful four years of two tenures, handed over the leadership of the League to Chief Timothy Okorocha.
In his valedictory speech entitled,” Our Stewardship, My Leadership Challenge”, Anaroke highlighted his achievements to include, establishment of the Centre for Maritime Journalism(CMJ), a non-for- profit body meant for capacity building in the maritime and allied industries. He called on stakeholders in the industry to support the project that has the potentials to enhance maritime journalism and public relations while improving the bottom line and corporate image of agencies and private firms. He also sought the support of stakeholders for the new leadership of LOMEP.
According to him, his leadership rebranded LOMEP and enhanced their productivity for the 21st century media practice, while entrenching the culture of accountability in the group and members.
He charted a sustainable course for LOMEP by creating annual revenue generating projects and ensuring that members are insured for life, even as a befitting office accommodation was provided for the association under his watch.
In another development, NIMASA has stated that a revised working condition for Nigerian Seafarers is a major component of the proposed review of the NIMASA Act and the Merchant Shipping Act currently before the National Assembly for consideration.
He stated this today during the inauguration of the Tripartite National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) meeting for the review of minimum standards for Nigerian Seafarers being hosted by the agency and held in Lagos.
According to Dr. Jamoh, “The ongoing review by the NJIC is timely because it comes at a time when we are in the process of reviewing both the NIMASA Act and the Merchant Shipping Act with the outcomes of the tripartite negotiations by the NJIC to be inputed into both Amendments to ensure that they are binding”.
“The importance of this gathering is determined by the need for adequate compensation, renumeration and workplace conditions for Nigerian Seafarers, and for employers of labour to ensure responsible Conditions of Service guiding seafarer employment in line with global best practices”, he added.
Recall that NIMASA had previously led negotiations alongside the NJIC, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and relevant stakeholders to increase dockworkers wages and entitlements through the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) initiative in 2018 which resulted in improved conditions for Nigerian dockworkers.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Director Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Engr. Victor Ochei, who also serves as the Chairman of the NJIC, emphasized on the benefits of the ongoing review for the Nigerian Maritime sector as a whole.
In his words, “Thus far, the regulation of the minimum standards of living and working condition of seafarers through the instrument of the Collective Bargaining Agreement process has created a harmonious working relationship between stakeholders, seafarer employers and the workers in the nation’s maritime labour sector”.
“A review of the Collective Bargaining Agreement is needed for improved wages and living standards for Seafarers operating in Nigeria’s in territorial waters, who undoubtedly are an integral part of the maritime sector”, he added.