Former Interior Minister, Iheanacho calls for unbundling of NIMASA

A foremost Master Marine and former Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho has called for the unbundling of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Speaking during an interview with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, Iheanacho said NIMASA had lost focus and needed to be redirected.

He said the agency’s lackluster performance over the past five years led to the collapse of many Nigerian shipping companies.

“The maritime industry has been static for a number of years. We have not made any progress at all and central to that lack of progress is the disappointment that operators had in regards to the authority that was supposed to midwife the growth and development in the industry.

“Unfortunately, a few years ago we warned that there was a drift in terms of the focus of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in terms of what they should be doing.

“We felt that NIMASA really ought to be concentrating on regulating the technical aspect of shipping – safety – but we were alarmed at some point in time when a law was conceived which allowed the focus of NIMASA to dissipate at that time. It was no longer a technical regulatory agency for shipping and safety but became all kinds of things to all kinds of people because some times, we see that organization signing MOU’s with military organistions, universities and all kind of things that were never contemplated in the beginning. So from being an organization that was supposed to midwife the growth of indigenous capacity, it became one that absolutely sounded the death knell for most of our indigenous operators because NIMASA concentrated its effort solely on collection of levy and it became a money-making organization. But that was not the intention and that was not the reason it was created. All of these have to change if the full potentials of the maritime industry are to be realized.

“The law has to be revisited and the focus of the subject must be changed. NIMASA must be able to recast itself and move away from seeing itself as if it was the Customs or other revenue generating agencies. NIMASA was never intended to be any of the revenue agencies because sometimes one wondered that all the money that were collected – three percent levy, SASBF, Cabotage levy, sea protection levy and others – what have they done with it? Are we really aware that anyone has ever accessed any of these funds? Are there any additions in terms of tonnages?

“This is the industry that adds value to the oil that produces all the wealth that we enjoy. Without the addition of sea transport to the oil that is produced, the value of that oil is zero,” the foremost Master Marine and Chairman of Genesis Worldwide Shipping said.

According to him, NIMASA has to be unbundled “because the bundling itself was a mistake and when the bundling came, we said NIMASA couldn’t be the master of itself in the maritime industry”.

He added, “NIMASA was the technical regulator in terms of regulating SOLAS provisions, it would be a technical regulator in terms of ISPS Code provision and it would even like to do the job of a policeman even when it has no power to arrest and prosecute people. All these things have to change. They have to focus in a very sensible way on things that will help our economy grow.”