Contracts, $5bn debt controversies hamper reform of NIMASA

The much awaited reform and restructuring of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) which has become the core of the current management of the agency headed by Dakuku Peterside has hit a dead end as the agency’s leadership battle to get itself out of the alleged $5 billion debt controversy and a scandalous contract awarded to recover the debts and platforms provision contracts.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY gathered that the debt recovery contract awarded to SNECO Financial Services, has caused serious ripples in the agency and placed a question mark on the integrity of the current management of NIMASA.
It was gathered that other developmental projects which the agency had embarked upon recently have also been hindered by the ripples being generated by the contract award. Some of such projects include the contract for the provision of sea time training for about 100 cadets who recently graduated from maritime institutions abroad, which has currently been put on hold; and sea-going platforms for cabotage enforcement, which the director-general,  promised to provide zonal operations, but failed.
On taking over the mantle of leadership of NIMASA, Peterside had rolled out what he called the agency’s “Medium Term Strategic Growth Plan” for the maritime industry, covering a span of three years and built around his core mission at NIMASA which is to reform, restructure and reposition the agency for sustainable growth and development of the maritime industry.
The DG had said the strategy was built on five pillars which included Survey, Inspection and Certification Transformation programme; Environment, Security and Search and Rescue Transformation programme; as well as Capacity Building and Promotional Initiatives which entail growing indigenous tonnage, ship building and human capacity.
Others are Digital Transformation Strategy; and Structural and Cultural reforms including changes to work ethic and attitude of staff as well as processes and procedures.
But a source in the agency said nothing is happening about the promised reform.
“The management right now is battling with contract controversies and does not appear to have time to pursue any restructuring. Nothing has changed with the structure of NIMASA. In fact, nothing has been reformed about NIMASA. The management is more concerned now about the debt recovery and contract around it. Everything here now is in low tone,” the source said.
A greenhorn private firm, SNECO Financial Services, owned by Rivers State APC, Davies Akanya and which was incorporated on April 4, 2016, was awarded the contract to recover NIMASA’s alleged $5 billion debt owed by oil companies, shipping lines and other operators in the maritime and shipping industry.
The contract was immediately enmeshed in controversies as both staff of the agency and maritime stakeholders question the ability of the company, the ingenuity of the contract, as well as the integrity of the new management of the agency, which came with promises of change for a better system and transparency in the apex maritime regulatory agency.
Shortly before the award of the debt recovery contract, the Peterside-led management of NIMASA also had been accused of replicating a Global West contract model for the provision of sea patrol platforms.
The controversies prompted invitation of Peterside by the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, in Abuja, where he refuted claims that debt owed NIMASA was not up to $5 billion, saying that the agency is only owed $420.5 million.
The House committee, which is chaired by Umar Bago, is in possession of several petitions, alleging the breach of due process and fraud in the award of the contract.
Peterside also claimed that due process was followed in selecting the consultant for debt recovery, “as the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) had also issued a Certificate of No Objection for the purpose,” even though no bidding notice was made to the public before the selection and engagement of SNECO.
Earlier at a stakeholders forum in Port Harcourt, the NIMASA boss also denied replication of the Global West platforms contract model, maintaining that he was misquoted.
“This is not same as the contract past NIMASA management had with Global West Vessels Specialist Limited. On this issue let me stress again that I have been misinterpreted and misquoted by the media. We are not replicating the Global West model,” he said.


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