By DAPO OLAWUNI
Thirteen years after he left the agency, former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Barr Temisan Omatseye has lamented that the apex maritime security gency is yet to be restructured and placed on the path of professionalism.
Speaking at the recent Lagos International Maritime Week 2023, Omatseye called for a genuine restructuring of NIMASA and for individuals to be placed in positions that align with their qualifications and expertise.
The ex-NIMASA boss argued that without proper organization and trained professionals, the country is ill-prepared to respond to potential maritime disasters or make international advancements.
While speaking during one of the sessions chaird by former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba (rtd) Omatseye recalled that during his tenure as NIMASA DG, he had presented a document which could have placed the agency on the right track, but it was vehemently resisted by the then Board chairman.
He recalled that the NIMASA board meeting was held with Ezeoba being a part of it.
“There was a meeting held for NIMASA to focus purely on its core functions.
In doing so, we had a clear-cut job description and a career path for every single NIMASA staff from the day he comes in and the training that he will get to get up to that position, to possibly become a DG, so that DG’s can be developed from in-house
“Sir, you remember that board meeting where I presented this position, you were the only one who supported me. As a matter of fact, my chairman banged his hand on the table that it is totally unacceptable, and that he is not going to accept that.
“I can tell you that, since we presented that paper, NIMASA has never been restructured.
Now, we cannot sit here and begin to look at the reality of it, because that is the truth, people do not want a change, and a change will not happen unless we put round pegs into round holes rather than putting people who do not know the head or tails about organizations” he said
He condemned situations whereby politicians are appointed into critical positions when setting up an organization.
“I mean, our saving grace simply now is that we’re not having a major disaster on our waters. The moment that happens, we are in a mess. If an Exxon Valdez accident happens in Nigeria, our ecosystem is dead.
“Now, if that happens today, what is our response capability? Who knows how to respond? Who is capable of responding? We do not have that as a country in Nigeria.
“If you go to the IMO (International Maritime Organization) name a single Nigerian there except for William Azu.
“And Willow Azu, how? He was a newscaster. And he was lucky enough to be put to the IMO, to represent them at APR, and he worked himself into becoming employed in IMO. Name another Nigerian that’s an IMO organization. That is an organization that takes a decision that relates to everything shipping in the world.
“We have people who are qualified in MIMASA, but if they are too qualified, a DG can wake up and take you from where you have a career path and put you in admin.
“We must get to a situation whereby people are allowed to follow their career path when the training is done, so they can apply for international postings.
“We cannot become local champions in Africa. We must become international champions on the international field” he said