By Umar Muhammad Puma
Stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry have opposed moves by the Nigerian Navy seeking amendment to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) Act to contribute 1% of its revenue to the Nigerian Navy.
The move was condemned by industry players during a One-Day Public Hearing on “A bill for an Act to Amend the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act, No. 17 2017 to increase the functions of the Agency; and for related matters (HB; 1131 & 1178), before the House of Representative Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration.
Speaking at the event, the President, African Ship Owners Association and a former Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Temisan Omatseye pointed out clearly that it will be against all international conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) entered into by the Federal Republic of Nigeria which has to be implemented.
While citing Section 22 (P) of the NIMASA Act, which provides opportunity for the Agency to provide maritime security, he noted that the IMO frowns at issues of military engagement in commercial activities.
Also lending his voice to condemn the proposed bill, the Chairman, Ports Consultative Council, Otunba Kunle Folarin noted that Nigeria is a critical stakeholder in the international maritime space, hence the need to exercise caution in amending any bill that may jeopardize the future of Nigeria in the global maritime sector.
Meanwhile, the representative of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES), Engr. Emmanuel Ilori in strong terms also condemned the moves by the Nigerian Navy to usurp the roles of NIMASA by way of seeking amendment to the bill.
Other Stakeholders who also condemned the proposed bill include, the President of the Stevedoring Association of Nigeria, Mr. Bolaji Sunmola, representative of the Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA) Mrs. Oritsema Tosa, Lagos coordinator of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA), Captain Taiwo Akinpelumi, Director General, NISA, Engr. Oliver Ogbuagu, Secretary General, Abuja MoU, Mrs. Mfon Usoro amongst others unanimously called for caution, noting that NIMASA needs more strength in order to be able to carry out its function effectively.
In his comment, the Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside noted that NIMASA is a responsible Agency and will always encourage collaborations rather than acrimonies.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Rep Mohammed Umaru Bago (APC Niget), observed that the maritime industry is so critical to the nation and its economy in particular that anything concerning its statutory and regulatory framework should be given adequate legislative attention.
The Speaker of the House of Representative Yakubu Dogara, who was represented by Rep Ossai Ossai, who is also the Chairman of the Committee on Ethics and Privilege, noted that the essence of the Public Hearing is to give everyone an opportunity to air their views and contribute to the legislative process.