Why FG must unbundle NIMASA – Agbakoba

A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) has called for the “unbundling” of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) for it to be efficient.

Agbakoba, the Principal Partner of Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL), made the call against the backdrop of the falling oil prices recently.

According to him, NIMASA had become inefficient because it had taken on too many responsibilities in maritime administration.

?”I still hold the view that NIMASA should be unbundled. NIMASA was first the National Maritime Authority (NMA), and, then, it swallowed the Government Inspector of Shipping. Even that original NMA Law, there were too many things; there was cabotage,    ship development, cargo allocations. Safety and security was the Government’s Inspector of Shipping, but NIMASA swallowed it,” Agbakoba said.

He also said that NIMASA took over the permanent representation of Nigeria at the International Seabed Authority, which was created by the United Nations (UN) for the common exploitation of the natural resources of the high seas.

“NIMASA has become inefficient and needs to be unbundled,” according to him.

He posited that the matter of cabotage enforcement is a huge job and should be an agency on its own, while suggesting that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) be appointed the regulator of shipping in Nigeria.

In the same vein, Agbakoba said that, not until NIMASA took over, the nation’s maritime safety and security issues were better handled when these were the responsibilities of the Government Inspector Shipping.

In his words: “In the old days, maritime safety and security issues were handled at 88 Marine Road (Apapa, Lagos). They had the skills to protect our waters. The second step was to assist them by creating a Coast Guard to patrol the waters. Somehow, NIMASA felt they were the ones entitled to do maritime safety and security. So, Government Inspector of Shipping died and NIMASA took it over, with the consequences that we can now see.  It hasn’t worked because they are dealing with far too many issues.”

Agbakoba submitted that it was important to interrogate policy of shipping and decide who does what, noting that Nigeria needed to go back to the international standard of practice, where there is the maritime security and safety agency, which, according to him, Nigeria lacked.

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