Anyanwu, in an interview with a Nigerian newspaper at the weekend, also called for a “Radical decision” to be taken on the funding of the Navy in the interest of security and economic wellbeing of the nation.
On the anarchy in the maritime sector, the lawmaker said there were over 20 laws governing the sector and a plethora of agencies implementing those laws without proper synergy and engaging in inter-agency rivalry.
The agencies, according to her, include the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Federal Environmental Protection Agency, National Inland Waterways Authority, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Department of Fisheries, Department of Oceanography, Nigerian Navy, Maritime Police, Army Amphibians, Joint Taskforce, Presidential Committee on Maritime Safety (PICCOMS).
She added that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) also interface when ships are seized.
“Too many agencies are involved in this whole maritime sector. There is anarchy in the maritime sector and I have been trying to point attention to it. There are over 20 legislations on the maritime sector,” Anyanwu said.
“We need to look at that whole sector, redefine and maybe do adjustments on the laws and clearly draw the lines of functions so that people don’t keep running into each other”, the lawmaker said, she added that this was a necessity and that her committee seeks to streamline it.
On the question of granting ex-militants the powers to patrol and secure the country’s maritime assets, Anyanwu said: “I guess that was an action taken out of desperation. It’s a desperate action which cannot stand the test of time. Sooner or later you have to do the right thing, which is what I am talking about. The force for the sea is the Navy. Let us kit them, let them go out to sea and get off the land and get to sea.”
Speaking further, Anyanwu said, “But you know it’s a risky thing. Why should ex-militants? Do they have the capacity to secure our borders? They don’t have the capacity.”
Nothing that there is a slight confusion in the NIMASA law, she said: “Sooner or later we have to face up to it because the definition of the role of NIMASA crosses that of Navy. I think that law needs to be looked at because NIMASA does not have the capacity to go beyond looking at commercial ships. NIMASA is not a fighting force, it cannot even take on the pirates. NIMASA needs the backing of a force and that force is either maritime police or the navy.”
She said some of losses are being incurred because of the absence of a policy which will delineate functions, define the law in a more clear way, and provide the right linkage and synergy.
“A lot of our fish stock is stolen in this country. Nobody talks about it. We talk about oil. The fish stock stolen is enough to give us the roads that we don’t have. But when you look at it side by side with the oil, it pales. So, we don’t talk about that. But at some point once we get action going at sea, we have the right vessels, the right support, we have the right linkages, some of those things would cease to happen, at least gradually. It is not going to happen overnight,” Anyanwu said.
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