NIMASA DG, Jamoh, Omatseye disagree over Nigeria’s status as maritime nation


The Director General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh and his predecessor in office, Mr. Temisan Omatseye, on Tuesday disagreed on the status of Nigeria as a maritime nation.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the just concluded Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) with the theme, “Becoming A Regional Maritime Power”, held in Lagos between Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Dr. Jamoh noted that the answer to whether or not Nigeria should aspire to be a maritime nation don’t have to be debated as no developed world today could boast of its development without maritime.

In his words, “Maritime must be a key component, at the pivotal of any economy that is developed. It is an instrument of trade because 90 percent of the world goods is being transported by sea. So, how can Nigeria begin to think whether it is appropriate to be a maritime nation or not? Secondly, we are export dependent nation of mono-economy – oil and gas, we don’t have any source of revenue other than this and when you look at the other component of the economy, the only alternative way of having revenue has to be with manufacturing and they are surrounded with so many issues, challenges and problems in terms of manufacturing.

“So, the ultimate thing for us to do is to see how to harness the natural resources of the ocean that is given by God as our own heritage.

While insisting that Nigerians must look at their challenges that had to do with maritime instrument, he explained that between November and December 2020, statistics showed that Nigeria recorded an average of six attacks on vessels in a week making it an average of one attack per day to the extent that the international community tagged Nigeria as the most dangerous nation to trade in terms of shipping.

He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the story of Nigeria in terms of maritime security; January, we had 1 (attack), February – 0, March – 1, April – 0, May – 1, June – 1, July – 0, August – 1 and September – 0. This report, if you Google the International Maritime Bureau report for the second quarter, it is being reported, not by Nigeria but by the International Maritime Bureau and the story was that for 27 years, we never had it this good for this long. The third quarter of September which I am presenting here is not yet out. It is going to be out by the first week of this month.

“We can’t achieve anything in life without security. Security is key to everything. So, if the security of the maritime nation and the industry is in question, the operators, stakeholders of the maritime industry cannot move ahead. Secondly, the international community, the investors will not have anything to say.

“We are headed to be a maritime nation now. The major issue now is to sustain this tempo. We had it nine months good, normally; attack on ships gets to the highest peak during the dry season. So, we are still in rainy season, we enjoyed half of the dry season around January, February up to March and this is the outcome. Now, we are getting to the dry season this period.”

Jamoh maintained that Nigeria’s aim was to sustain the tempo with the twelve calendar months saying, “I have been fighting for the removal of the War Risk insurance, there is one occasion where I spoke, in less than 48 hours, they responded, you still have a lot to do.”

“The International community, the Lloyds of London and I told them, do you have yardstick to gauge me? If you have yardstick, give me, let me know where I am doing right so I can emphasize on doing that right to maintain the right things. Where we are doing wrong, let us improve on that. So, the issue of maritime insecurity, this is where we are today”, he added.

On his part, a former Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Temisan Omatseye defined a maritime nation as one which bordered the sea and was dependent on its use for the majority of the state activities basically for commerce, transport, war and to define a territorial boundary or for any other maritime activity.

He contended that being a maritime nation required more than producing seafarers or owning vessels adding that being a maritime nation means more than having a geographical configuration embraced by waters.

“It is more than relying on your resources of the seas that surround the country. What it means being a maritime nation is imbibing a national consciousness that Nigerians are filled with every day; that is maritime. It is not about us crying, every single person in Nigeria must own it.

“To be a maritime nation must exhibit that level of confidence on our ability to achieve national objectives by harvesting the rich marine resources and optimizing the benefits that seas can provide. Mobilizing the country’s maritime attribute must at all times be pursued with determination and much depends on this for the country to progress. It is telling the world that Nigeria stands as one nation when it comes to the issues that relate to maritime.

“All that entails per se is that Nigeria would not only think but we must breath and we must act maritime. We must critically, and this goes on to another issue, the question now is that for us to be able to say we are maritime; we must constitute the framework which basically has to do with the issue of institutions. What about the institutions, the issue of legislation, the issue of regulations? Now, those are what begins to make you a strong maritime nation and I just want to leave it at that because as I stand here today, that we have water surrounding us and we have so much to do with maritime resources up to 250 nautical miles in control and being increased now to another extra 100 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles, 84,000 square nautical miles of waters we have and I am going to tell you that the creeks and tributaries that we have in Nigeria, people live of the river and the people that come from a village in the east will tell you they have to go and bath in the stream.

“But can we sit down here and say that Nigerians as a people have taken ownership of the maritime domain? I will say no to that effect”, he concluded.

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