The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside has spent over 100 days in office before he called for his maiden media parley with journalists. Since his appointment as DG NIMASA, many have seen Dr. Peterside simply as Amaechi’s beloved candidate, while to others the new NIMASA boss hasn’t done anything yet. However during his discuss with pressmen he spoke on several pertinent maritime issues and unveiled the agency’s medium term plans. MMS Plus brings you the highpoints.
By Kenneth Jukpor
NIMASA is having a reputation problem. I don’t know how we got bad press. It’s easier to associate NIMASA with corruption and looting than an agency of government that its work and adds value to the Nigerian people. I inherited that problem, but I can’t give the analysis of how we got here.
I also inherited a managerial team that is resource and dynamic but not goal orientated because we had a leadership gap.
There is also a downturn in trade globally and there is a new forex regime which makes it quite difficult to access funds to do business and we have a government which discourages import and encourages export. All of these have
Our Cardinal Objective in NIMASA
Every other objective of NIMASA falls under this core objective, which is to reform, restructure and re-position NIMASA. In order to achieve this, we agreed that there would be five (5) pillars to achieve this objective. They include; survey, inspection and classification initiative, environment, security and search and rescue initiative, capacity building and promotional initiative, digital transformation strategy; and structural and cultural reforms.
Survey Inspection and Classification Initiative
It is part of our mandate as enshrined in NIMASA Act of 2007 to ensure that vessels that ply our territorial waters are safe and secure. This means that the individuals who man the vessels are qualified to man the vessels, the vessels are sea worthy and that the vessels are conveying goods meant for that size of vessel. To achieve this there are IMO instruments such as SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) and at NIMASA, we have to enforce those IMO instruments. There are three important duties under the first pillar; port state control, flag state control, coastal state control.
Flag state control: These are vessels which are registered under the Nigerian to ensure that they are sea worthy and manned by qualified personnel.
Port state control: These are vessels coming into the Nigerian territorial waters and also leaving our waters.
Coastal state control: This affects vessels that trade within our coastal waters.
We are working towards enhancing the effectiveness in our port and flag state control and we intend to put several things in place to ensure that we meet the minimum IMO obligation as a maritime administration. We intend to get at least 95% compliance to all IMO instruments and all regulations that bother on the maritime environment. One key thing we want to do is to get vessels to patrol our territorial waters to monitor and survey. We also need to train our surveyors. We have classification societies who help us ensure that vessels are manned by the appropriate persons we want to review the work they are doing to ensure that at meets international best standards.
Maritime Environment: Security and Search and Rescue
Currently, we are geared towards ensuring that shipping activities have minimum impact on the environment. We monitor what the vessels that ply our waterways do. In addition, we want to have vessels that patrol our coastal environment and the entire maritime waters and environment to ensure that nobody damages the environment in the course of the multiple economic activities that take place.
We are entering MoUs with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air-force so that we can have maritime intelligence on the Airforce patrol and for the Nigerian Navy to work with NIMASA is guaranteeing the security of our territorial waters. Not too long ago there was an aircraft accident and not a single person was lost because of the maritime agency that is in charge of emergency. We think that Nigeria has the capacity to respond in the same manner if such situation occurs. NIMASA is getting better in response to such emergencies.
One of the two major functions as enshrined in the NIMASA Act is to promote indigenous shipping and indigenous participation in Cabotage international trade. Unfortunately, we have bothered more on the revenue generating aspect of NIMASA but promoting indigenous participation in shipping is equally important. To promote indigenous shipping two things are critical. One is to deal with the human element and this calls for training of our seafarers. A nation like Philippine makes $7bn from exporting seafarers annually. Do a comparative analysis of this with how much Nigeria earns from oil.
The combined earnings from seafarers in Philippines, China and India is more that what Nigeria earns from oil in two years. Nigeria has a population of over 100million people so we can also export seafarers. The Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) has been NIMASA’s intervention initiative where we send Nigerians aboard to acquire specialized skills to work as seafarers onboard vessels. We intend to re-engineer that programme and come up with NSDP 3. In addition to NSDP 3, we intend to look at our training institution which is the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron and integrate them to ensure that they deliver on our capacity building initiative.
We also intend to get Nigerians more interested in owning ship building facilities, ship dockyards and dry docking facilities. This is one area that we are not getting right even with the Cabotage regime. The Cabotage regime pushes for us to have vessels built in Nigeria, manned by Nigerians and owned by Nigerians. The major arm that is missing is ship building. In the area of ship owners we have moved from 10% prior to the Cabotage Act to 80% today, in terms of manning we have also made progress but we are not at where we supposed to be. We intend to promote Nigeria to become the hub for ship repair and ship building facilities. We are also going to set up ship breaking and recycling plants in Nigeria. In the next ten years, we intend to have at least 90% Nigerians manning vessels in the country.
Digital Transformation Strategy
We intend to automate all our processes in three years. By the end of October, we should ensure that the era of manual receipts, manual debit notes, etc comes to an end because we want automation. Automation would enhance efficiency, reduce corruption and human manipulation. You don’t need to come to NIMASA and stand for several hours just to pay dues. If you want to register a vessel, from your home you should be able to pay your fees, upload all your documents and complete your registration. You should also be able to get a response immediately. This is the direction we intend to go. Nigeria isn’t an isolated country. We have the capacity to achieve this and I believe that we would accomplish this very soon.
Structural and Cultural Reforms
This is the basis of all other pillars. Recall that NIMASA is a fusion of Nigerian Maritime Authority (NMA) and the Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC). Both agencies were brought together via the NIMASA Act but NIMASA is still using NMA’s structure and organogram. Incidentally the market has changed as during the time there was no Cabotage Act. So the market is different and we intend to change the structure and organogram of the agency in order to accomplish the goals of the agency.
Another issue is the culture at NIMASA, the way we work. What impression do you get when you encounter someone from NIMASA? If have an encounter with someone who works in Shell, you would go with an impression of having met someone who is responsible, honest, one who knows his job and does it efficiently. For NIMASA, a reform would be useless if we don’t ensure there is a change in the way our people work. We intend to embark on a change management programme that emphasizes the work ethics at NIMASA.
We also want to increase the participation of Nigerian vessels on the tonnage of Nigerian crude and Nigerian gas. We want to enhance the reputation of our flag so that at the end of three years we should have ocean-going vessels carrying Nigerian flags with pride. Today, not one ocean-going vessel is flagged Nigeria and the problem is the integrity of the Nigerian flag.
We have also developed a maritime medium term growth plan from 2016 to 2018. It is an important document that we would use to ensure that we carry out our objectives within that period.
DG’s Integrity and Commitment
Before I got to the National Assembly, I said that I would send ten persons from my constituency to the UK to study every year. People asked how I would be able to keep my word but I did it throughout the four years I spent in the National Assembly. It did an all expense paid programme for them including feeding and housing. I ensured that I did this because I don’t toil with my integrity. The position of DG NIMASA won’t make me change my legacy because it is not the peak of my career.
I acknowledge that there are institutional challenges working in a government agency and trying to translate visions into reality. This is because one needs the approval from the National Assembly and the Coordinating Minister for most things to be done. Since I coming from the National Assembly, I believe that I can navigate through the challenges and the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi is someone who wants transformation so we would get his full support. I can also boast of the competent workforce that I have in NIMASA and I’m sure that I have their support and there is no mountain that we cannot surmount. We are committed to this vision and we believe God will see us through and I have no doubt that we will achieve our objectives.
We are putting things in place to discourage people from engaging in piracy and other criminal activities on our waterways. One way we can achieve this is to ensure we have continuous presence of patrol teams on our waterways. Unfortunately, we cannot be everywhere but we have used technology to bridge that gap. We have the NIMASA surveillance satellite system to enable us have the best view on the ongoings in the entire maritime terrain of Nigeria. In addition, the Nigerian Navy has also acquired maritime domain assets called the Falcon Eye to enable them get good view of the Nigerian waters and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) also has its facility for the same surveillance.
However, it is enough to sit in your office and see that someone is going to attack a ship. How do we move fast enough to stop it? This explains why we are acquiring fast moving vessels which would have Naval men onboard for enforcement and to assist security agencies do their work. We are also partnering the Air-force and the Navy. By my estimation, from September these vessels should be patrolling our waters. The Air-force would do regular marine patrol using marine patrol aircraft to monitor our waters while the Navy also does the same.
Even when these pirates are caught they are properly prosecuted. In the past, we took these people to the Police but they do not prosecute them properly and we are pushing for an anti-piracy law. We are working with the ICPC, UNDP, IMO and other international organizations to create an efficient anti-piracy law.
Most of our projects would require revenue but once we block all revenue leakages in NIMASA, our finances would be enhanced. I also acknowledge that the global economic downturn as well as the new forex policy would affect our revenue. The new import and export restrictions as well as the fall in global oil prices also affect our revenue.
Nigeria runs a monolithic economy where everything is centered on oil but this oil generation has taken a hit as a result of the challenges globally as well as the Niger Delta militants.
As I speak to you, if not for our ingenuity at NIMASA we would not be able to pay staff their salaries. This is because we have made several commitments that we need to exit. We have fewer vessels coming into the country. We also have the TSA (Treasury Single Account) and NIMASA is to keep 25% of its revenue in the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the federal government. With the TSA, one cannot even play smart with the money as the federal government collects its share swiftly.
Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF)
The law establishing the CVFF requires that the Minister would make regulations while NIMASA is the home of the fund. At the moment people are applying for the fund but financial institutions would have to do the risk analysis before reporting to NIMASA and we submit to the Minister.
The Minister has developed a model with stakeholders. If the obligation of CVFF is to grow local tonnage and the participation of Nigerians in indigenous shipping, we should achieve this objective. How come we don’t have any vessel flying the Nigerian flag? Amaechi is facilitating the coming together of ship-owners to acquire big ocean-going vessels rather than the smaller vessels so they can participate in the lifting of Nigeria’s crude and other things we import or export as a nation.
There is also the issue of a national carrier which would ensure massive employment, restore national pride, guarantee economic benefits as well as security. It was the stakeholders that suggested that since the fund was for ship-owners, they should come together and acquire a shipping line. CVFF has not lost its objectives and I can assure that before the end of our three years medium term plan, CVFF would be applied for the purpose it was meant for.
I believe institutions don’t work without people because Institutions are driven by people. I would not hold back any benefit or entitlement of any staff of NIMASA for one second because I am a “people person”. We would factor the welfare of staff in our re-positioning strategies at the agency. I have the support of all the staff at NIMASA through their departmental heads and I believe that we have the best hands in NIMASA so let’s put these good hands to work.
Global West Contract
NIMASA has a relationship with Global West. The appropriateness is not what we are looking at and the reason is simple. The anti-graft agencies are investigating the activities of Global West while some cases are in court. I know that you would not advice me to talk about an issue that is in court.
Global West was not engaged to provide NIMASA security but to provide NIMASA vessels and the people who boarded these vessels were Naval officers because the Nigerian law doesn’t empower private individuals to bear arms on our waterways.
Neither Tompolo nor Global West acquired training vessels. What they acquired were security vessels. Training vessels are specially built for that purpose.
Maritime university is not primarily the responsibility of NIMASA. NIMASA provided part of the initial fund for the maritime university but it’s not the primary function of NIMASA.
NIMASA is supervised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the government policy today is to review the entire concept of maritime university. Is the university what we need or deserve? Is the location apt for what we want? What do we intend to achieve with the maritime university? On our priority list, where does it fall?
The review process is ongoing and as soon as the government’s review process is over we would run with the government’s position because we are a government agency. In a nutshell, Maritime university proposed at Okerenkoko is been reviewed.
I have nothing against Coast Guard but Coast Guard has different models operated in different countries depending on the local peculiarities. In the UK, you have the Maritime Coast Guard Agency which equivalent of NIMASA in England. In United States, the equivalent of NIMASA is split into two, namely Maritime Administration as well as the United States Coast Guard. In some countries, the Navy is the coast guard and the maritime administrator as well. The model of coast guard in each country depends on the peculiarity of that country. In Nigeria, we are planning to have a Maritime Guard Command as a unit of NIMASA. It’s not for me to determine as the DG NIMASA. If our laws say create a Coast Guard, I will do so.
Certificate of Competency
These certificates had not been signed for sometime but at the moment we have signed all. In the last two weeks we have signed all outstanding certificates of Competence about 400 of them. No document stays in my office for more than 24 hours. Most times I work at night signing documents and letters although things may be challenging at the moment as NIMASA’s finance is at it’s lowest ebb.
Banana Pills in NIMASA
If we ensure we do the right things in the right order as prescribed by law, we have nothing to fear. I can assure that NIMASA would strive to do the right things in the prescribed order and within the confines of the law and with the best intentions.
I was at the Resource Center at Kiribati to discuss with the staff to know their challenges. Over time, I have realized that it is important to meet your people where ever they are to know how work is going. In the course of my discussion with the people in Kirikiri we talked about the health go plans.
When I come in I noticed that there has been a contention between having a retainership system where you retain health centers and the human resource and insurance firms. In a general meeting with NIMASA staff we agreed that we should set up a committee from various departments if the agency to do a report and the committee did a wonderful job. They sent in a report that no one can dare challenge and I gave them a letter of recommendation for their efforts. That report has been turned in and I have studied it. But before we take a decision on which of the health care programmes to adjust and we acknowledge that there is a federal circular supporting organizations to key into health insurance schemes. So we are going to convey a top management meeting to discuss the report. You can only work with people who are alive and for them to be alive they must get adequate health care.
Capt. Wareedi Eniosuoh
Capt. Wareedi is a staff of NIMASA who is on suspension and by NIMASA rules he cannot work in the agency until he clears himself before the court of law. I’m conscious of this. Wareedi has not been recalled to NIMASA neither has he been appointed as my technical assistant. In fact I don’t have a technical assistant even though I am entitled to one. I don’t know those peddling the rumours that I have made Capt. Wareedi my technical assistant. However, as a Nigerian and also as a staff of NIMASA, Wareedi has the right to come into NIMASA to ask for anything but he cannot come in and work. Remember he is innocent until proven otherwise. So you can’t deprive Wareedi from his right to access NIMASA and I will not do that.