Nigeria Declares Maritime Sector Safe 

Hyacinth Chinweuba

The Federal Government has given the assurance to the international oil and Gas community that the Nigerian maritime sector is safe for investment and special tax regime are under consideration to grow capacity for the industry in the country.

Addressing Journalists at a technical workshop on deep sea exploration on the sidelines of the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston Texas, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transportation Alhaji Sabiu Zakari noted that Nigeria is aware of the drift towards deep sea exploration and policies to enhance effective maritime transport are now being considered by the Federal Government.

Alhaji Zakari said that the report by the International Maritime Bureau that piracy has declined in Nigerian Waters in the first quarter of 2019 is an attestation that efforts of the President Buhari led administration in safety and security in the maritime sector has started yielding fruits.

“Nigerian waters are safe- NIMASA deep blue project in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, and all other security agencies in Nigeria is already in motion and will use the latest technology to track all vessels in Nigerian waters and reduce criminality to the barest minimum. Foreigners with genuine business interest are welcome to invest in Nigeria. So many have come and are enjoying benefits of their investment.” He said.

Also, the Director General of the Nigerian maritime Administration and safety agency, NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside said that the agency has commenced regulatory reforms to ensure a business friendly maritime environment to spur economic growth hinged on both foreign and indigenous investors. He assured the international community that NIMASA is committed to growing in-country capacity so that collaboration between Nigerian and foreigners can take place without fear of compromising standards.

According to him, “We are building up capacity, and creating the right regulatory framework for the Nigerian maritime sector. We believe that our three dimensional approach of creating the right regulatory environment, providing easy asses to capital, build capacity, and facilitate access to business opportunities will hasten the indigenous capacity development. Regulation ought not to stifle businesses, regulation ought to support business, spur economic growth. Without endangering the environment and the people.”

Speaking further on Cabotage implementation in Nigeria, Dr Dakuku said that the Agency is in discussion with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian Customs Service on the need to create a special tariff regime for those importing Vessels and vessel parts into the country

“At the moment, a temporary import permit mainly granted foreigners attract just 1% but importing vessel by Nigerian attract 13% so its difficult to compete. We are engaging the Nigeria Customs Service on the need to review this regime. We have also made appreciable progress in our discussions with the Central bank of Nigeria to see Nigerians in the maritime sector have access to single digit facilities so they can compete favorably with their international peers.” He said.

The Chief Operating Officer Upstream of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Alhaji Bello Rabiu, during his visit to the NIMASA stand at the OTC, commended the Agency’s Management for her efforts in seeking collaboration to grow the industry in Nigeria.

On his part, the First Governor of Rivers State and Amayanabo of Brass Bayelsa State, His Royal majesty Alfred Diete Spiff who led the Bayelsa delegation to the OTC commended NIMASA for its commitment to capacity development particularly for its role in the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko and called for more of such specialized universities to be established in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, in line with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) disposition of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the agency has restated that the internally displaced persons spread across Nigeria constitute an integral part of our society and the nation at large and therefore have to be catered for.

Dakuku stated this while presenting some relief materials to the Internally Displaced persons in Cross River State, as part of its nation-wide donation of diverse forms of relief materials to people displaced as a result of the 2018 flood disaster that submerged some parts of the State and some other states across the country, in continuation of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Presenting the materials to the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the DG, who was represented by the Director, Planning, Research and Data Services Department (PRDMS), Mrs. Moronke Thomas, told the beneficiaries that the Agency would always support the Federal Government’s drive in advancing gestures that impact lives positively and meaningfully in the country.

“NIMASA is a socially responsible citizen. Though our core mandates are principally to regulate and promote shipping as well as other associated maritime ventures in Nigeria, we are acutely aware, and also conscious of the plights of natural disaster victims like you. We are with you and we share your sufferings. We are here in realisation of the fact that an injury to you is an injury to us, and by extension, an injury to Nigeria. And so, NIMASA as a responsible corporate citizen will continue to support the Federal Government efforts in ameliorating your sufferings and challenges”, the DG said.

Receiving the materials on behalf of the IDPs in the State, the Special Assistant (SA) to the Governor who also doubles as the Ag DG, of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Princewil Ayim commended NIMASA, while noting that the State government was doing its best on their welfare and security. He thanked NIMASA for the gesture and called on other public-spirited institutions and individuals to emulate such magnanimity.

“We note and understand the circumstances of our people and we feel their pains. We perfectly know their needs and we are doing everything as a State to make life meaningful for them. We call on well-meaning Nigerians and corporate institutions to emulate NIMASA. We appreciate and commend them and it is our promise that this gesture has been received in the spirit in which it is given”, Mr. Ayim said.

Also speaking, the leader of the Bakassi IDP Camp, Mr. Etim Ene, thanked NIMASA for the items donated, adding that the Camp was still lacking basic amenities such as portable water and healthcare services.

Materials donated ranged from Mattresses, Garri, School Bags, Salt, Rice, Fishing Nets, Blanket, Tins of Powder Milk, beverages, Soap/ Detergents, Sugar, noodles, palm/vegetable oil, amongst others.

It is worthy of note that the Federal Government has consistently encouraged interested philanthropists and non-governmental organisations to partner with government in order to adequately cater for the needs of Nigerians who are affected by one form of disaster or another. It is in line with such encouragement that the Management of NIMASA embarked on provision of relief materials of diverse forms to the Internally Displaced Persons across 20 states of the federation throughout the Six Geo-political Zones.

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