Nigerian maritime stakeholders have opposed moves by the Nigerian Navy seeking amendment to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) Act for the agency to contribute 1 per cent of its revenue to it. The proposed bill seeks to amend the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act, No. 17 2017 to increase its functions and for related matters (HB: 1131 & 1178), now before the House of Representatives Condemning the move during a public hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on the amendment to NIMASA Act, the President, African Ship owners Association and former Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Temisan Omatseye, said it would be against all international conventions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which Nigeria has to implement. Citing Section 22 (P) of the NIMASA Act, which provides it an opportunity to provide maritime security, Omatseye noted that the IMO frowns at issues of military engagement in commercial activities. Also opposing the proposed bill, the Chairman, Ports Consultative Council, Mr. Kunle Folarin, noted that Nigeria is a critical stakeholder in the international maritime space, hence the need to exercise caution in amending any bill that may jeopardize its future in the global maritime sector. According to him, “NIMASA’s efforts on regional co-operation should be consolidated, rather than trying to usurp some of the functions of the agency, as it will affect its day-to-day operations in carrying out its mandates.” Nevertheless, he urged the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration to ensure that NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy do not work at cross-purposes, as both are critical to the safety and security of the nation’s territorial waterways. On his part, representative of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES), Emmanuel Ilori, in strong terms also condemned the navy’s move to usurp NIMASA’s roles by seeking amendment to its establishment Act. He warned that the cabotage fund should not be raided to fund another government agency that already has a budget from the Federal Government. He further urged the navy to seek more budgetary funding from the right source rather than NIMASA, as both agencies have their jurisdiction as regarding budget and expenditure. “NIMASA is already investing in infrastructure that will lead to a total coverage of the maritime sector, hence the need to encourage them for the good of the sector,” Ilori said. “At this critical time, it is premature to seek any form of amendment and we need to support NIMASA on this, more so as we are going to IMO again. Nigeria must not be an object of ridicule again.” Also condemning the proposed amendment were the President of Stevedoring Association of Nigeria, Mr. Bolaji Sunmola, representative of the Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA), Mrs. Oritsema Tosa, Lagos coordinator of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA), Capt. Taiwo Akinpelumi, Director General, NISA, Oliver Ogbuagu, and Secretary General, Abuja MoU, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, among others. Meanwhile, the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated that NIMASA would always encourage collaborations rather than acrimonies. Represented by the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Ahmed Gambo, Peterside said “national interest and issues of global best practices are topmost; it is not an issue of NIMASA versus the Nigerian Navy.” He urged the House Committee, in national interest, to take an informed position on the matter and consolidate the powers of the agency rather than do otherwise,” according to a statement by the Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi. Earlier, the Committee Chairman, Mohammed Umaru Bago, said the maritime industry is so critical to the nation and its economy that anything concerning its statutory and regulatory frameworks should be given adequate legislative attention. Also, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, represented by the Chairman, Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Dr. Ossai Ossai, noted that the public hearing was to give everyone an opportunity to air views and contribute to the legislative process.
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