BLUE ECONOMY: Reps Committee Pledges Ammendment of NIMASA Laws, to Harness Economy Potentials

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Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime Safety Education and Administration, Hon Uduak Odudoh (7th from right) Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, Mrs Jean Chiazor Anishere and other members of the committee in a group photograph after the workshop on Blue Economy in Lagos on Friday

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration has assured the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) of
its readiness to amend its moribund laws which are no longer in tandem with the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon Uduak Odudoh gave the assurance on Friday when NMASA hosted a sensitization workshop for the lawmakers in order to update them on the Blue Economy.
The workshop had theme: “Harnessing the Nation’s Blue Economy, A Legislative Aproach”

Lead speaker at the workshop, Mrs Jean Chiazor Anishere, a maritime lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) noted that most of the existing laws of NIMASA and other regulatory agencies in the maritime sector cannot function under the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy unless they are amended.

According to her, these laws are obsolete and cannot harness the potentials of the blue economy potentials.
Some of the laws highlighted by the leaned Silk included; the Cabotage Act, the NIMASA Act, Fisheries and Aquaculture Regulation.

Anishere insisted that for the Blue Economy concept to thrive in Nigeria, there must be a creation of Blue Economy Framework which should be passed by the National Assembly into law, so as to serve as a guideline to Nigeria harnessing its blue economy potentials

She said “The Carbotage Act 2003 was meant to enhance Nigerian ship owners to participate in the industry. The policy is good in terms of empowerment of indigenous
operators, ship owners. But then, there is an embargo of some sort to that policy.

“How do we harness the blue economy regulation as it relates to the Carbotage Act? We don’t have a
shipping line. That is one of the challenges that will affect our taking the potential of the blue economy.

“The second challenge is fund.
Funding is key. When we talk about empowerment, we need the fund that will enable the indigenous ship owners acquire the right vessels to take a benefit of the Carpetage Act.

“And so the draftsmen of the Carpetage Act 2003 actually also conceptualized the Carpetage Vessel Financial Fund (CVFF),
which sadly is yet to be implemented. So we need to ensure that we implement the CVFF Fund, and by so doing, we will be able to encourage
the indigenous ship owners and harness the potentials of the blue economy.

“Another regulation is the NMASA Act. NMASA, as we all know, is the regulatory body that helps to ensure safety of our waters, protection of environment. But the interesting part of it is that, if we look closely at the regulation of the Act of NMASA, we’ll see that NMASA’s duties are being supervised by the Ministry of Transportation, so there’s a need to review that Act to fit in under the marine and blue economy ministry.

“If we have a marine and blue economy ministry, and NMASA, Nigerian Post Authority (NPA), and Nigerian Shippers Council, and NIWA, are all agencies under the marine and blue economy, surely it has become moribund for us to say in the NMASA Act that NIMASA will be governed by the Ministry of Transport” she said

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh who also took the lawmakers on a 90minutes session on Activities of NIMASA, its mandates and achievements, informed the legislators that the Agency would soon be submitting the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses Act (SPOMO Act 2019) for amendments.

Jamoh intimated the legislators on major efforts of NIMASA in maritime security which has led to Nigeria recording zero Piracy incidents in the past two years, as well as the activities of the agency on Maritime Safety and Seafarers Development.

Speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the event, the NIMASA boss said “The whole essence of today’s outing is to improve the knowledge of the legislators to understand their basic role in the society, their role is to make laws and secondly to carryout oversight functions.
All the members of the committee appreciated their being here today and knew that what they benefited today is worth their time”

On his part, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Hon Uduak Odudoh appealed to NIMASA to repeat the workshop again, adding that the legislators would love to come back for more and to also carryout inspection of NIMASA facilities.

The lawmakers commended the leadership prowess of Dr Bashir Jamoh, even as they prayed that President Bola Tinubu extends his tenure in office as NIMASA DG.

“The little we have learnt today, even one week is not enough, so we are planning to come back so that we can be well integrated and capture what we are supposed to do in partnership with this agency for the betterment of Nigeria.

“On the amendment of obsolete laws, i want to assure Nigerians that we shall go back home and do the needful, and with the calibre of members that we have in this committee and the entire National Assembly, we shall not rest until the needfulis done.

“These laws when signed by Mr President, it would go a long way to improve the economic situation of Nigeria, especially the blue economy.
We shall set up subcommittees and assign duties to ourselves, we shall also partner with our colleagues in the Senate.

“Let me commend the NIMASA DG who have proven that he is a compendium of the blue economy, he has done well. My appeal is for every staff of NIMASA should cooperate with him to ensure the agency succeed.

“On our part as National Assembly, we would not rest on our oars in ensuring that every allocation the agency needs is provided for them to deliver on their core mandates” he said

A member of the committee, Hon Wale Oke from Osun State said that the Blue Economy potentials if well utilized, is enough to rescue Nigeria out of the current economic mess. He lamented however, that not much Nigerians, including these in authority are aware of such huge potentials.

He observed that the staff strength of NIMASA which according to Dr Bashir Jamoh ‘s presentation is currently 1,750 has a old senior management staff. He urged the DG to ensure that younger Nigerians are employed and promoted to understudy the outgoing management staff.

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