The United States Government has indicted the Federal Government over its inability to midwife and implement the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code saying that “the future of current Designated Authority remains in doubt”
The U S Coast Guard team is expected in Nigeria on the 26th of August just as plans to receive them have been concluded. Since the threat to withdraw shipping services from Nigeria was issued by the American government, both the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) have been running from pillar to post to ensure that all was set for the US coast guard inspection.
Should Nigeria fail to pass the audit exercise, it will spell doom for the nation’s economy as the American government and its allies will stop their vessels from sailing to Nigeria.
Already, the United States Coast Guard in its report after last year’s visit to Nigeria thumbed down Nigeria’s preparedness as to the implementation of the ISPS Code and noted that there is considerable confusion as to who has the authority to implement the ISPS Code in the country among the various government agencies with overlapping functions.
It was after the absence of a Designated Authority was brought to the notice of the Nigerian government that NIMASA was designated to take up the responsibility of Designated Authority. (DA)
After NIMASA assumed the position of a DA it held a stakeholders’ meeting where they exposed their ignorance as to how to go about the implementation should be.
Even the Recongnised Security Organisation (RSO) that is to assist NIMASA in ensuring proper implementation also exhibited some level of ignorance of their knowledge of the entire ISPS Code. In the report, the American government through its Coast Guard expressed concern over the fact that even NIMASA as presently constituted has not developed any form of expertise to tackle the issue of terrorism in the maritime industry.
The U S government also expressed concern that there are no anti-terrorism measures in place in Nigerian ports thereby threatened to impose sanctions if measures are not put in place in 90 days.
The report read in parts “ The embassy of the United States of America presents its compliment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the honour to request that the Ministry forward this message to and the attached Aide Memoire to the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs Olugbenga Ashiru, Honourable Minister of Transport Idris .A. Umar, Senior Special Adviser to the President on Maritime Affairs Mr. Leke Oyewole, Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Mallam Habib Abdullahi.
“The embassy has the honour to note that the Government of the United States of America appreciates the willingness of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to host the visit by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) teams to Nigeria to assess the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures at ports and continued efforts to comply with the International Ship and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
“Overall, with some noteworthy exceptions noted in the attached Aide Memoir, the United States Coast Guard teams determined that Nigerian Ports did not have in place effective anti-terrorism measures.
“Based on such observations during these visits to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Government of the United States of America would like to communicate several areas of concern.
“The visiting team noted that lack of clarity regarding which agency in the Federal Republic of Nigeria has the overall responsibility for overseeing anti-terrorism measures at these ports as well as the uneven quality and consistency of oversight. As a result, the United States Coast Guard identified areas for improvement regarding anti-terrorism measures in Nigerian ports.