The House of Representatives Committee on Marine Transport has commended the budget performance of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for 2013.
The chairman of the committee, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who said the management of the Agency has been spending more on capital projects than overhead and described the trend as a necessity for all sectors of the economy if the nation is to move forward.
Ugwuanyi, who led the Committee members on an oversight visit to the Agency, reiterated the commitment of his team to continue to support NIMASA in order to ensure maximum efficiency in the transformation of the maritime sector.
The Committee also applauded the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) of the Agency as a veritable tool for wealth creation and pledged its unflinching support for youth development in the sector.
Speaking on the Cabotage Act, Hon. Ugwuanyi said the committee had noted the concerns of the Agency for an amendment to the law to make it more adaptable to the Nigerian maritime realities.
He said: “We have noted your concerns about the Cabotage Act and have already made a presentation to the House Committee on Rules and Business. Very soon, the amendments will be presented to the House for consideration.”
Equally commending the management of NIMASA for its continued support to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, the Chairman urged the Agency to support the aspiration of MAN Oron towards transforming into a degree awarding institution, as that would further enhance capacity development in the maritime sector.
Earlier in his presentation, the Director General, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi said based on the four-point agenda of his administration, the Agency was committed to positioning Nigeria as the best maritime nation in Africa by the year 2020.
According to the Director General, the budget performance of the Agency in terms of revenue showed an improved performance as at October 31 compared to last year, indicating that the Agency would meet its target before the end of the fiscal year.
On piracy and illegal bunkering, the NIMASA DG explained that as part of the commitment of the Agency in reducing the trend to the barest minimum, the Agency was in collaboration with relevant security agencies and has also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Air Force to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Navy.
The DG however said “not all the cases of reported hijacks, piracy and robbery on our waters are genuine. Some of these cases are hyped to undermine us and shore up insurance premium to Nigeria. I am not saying that piracy does not occur in our domain, but it is exaggerated. We are working tirelessly to reduce piracy and illicit crimes on our waterways to the barest minimum through these collaborative efforts.”
He enumerated the achievements of the Agency during the period under review to include enhanced safety and security of the maritime domain through regular patrols, building a corps of qualified maritime professionals under the NSDP scheme, establishment of Institutes of Maritime Studies in four universities, establishment of a Maritime University, establishment of a Science and Technical College and construction of a ship yard and dock yard.
Others are regular funding of MAN Oron, recruitment of qualified professionals in line with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Audit requirements, enhanced flag and port state administration, submission of the instruments of ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 to the International Labour Organisation and procurement of boats through a PPP arrangement to boost enforcement.