Tompolo’s Global West Limited, proposed Maritime University controversy, Maritime Academy in Oron
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) led the board and management on a trip across the eastern zone of the agency and stopped over in PH for a press encounter.
After his presentation, trust journalists, questions were fired at the DG and he countered. BusinesDay led the attack.
On The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)’s recent report that the maritime sector has improved and boosted the economy by huge sums, the DG said; “Yes, we saw the NBS report but we are still not satisfied. We are contributing much in Naira term but when converted to Dollars, it is declining. What are we doing right? We are ensuring that we boost investors’ confidence in the maritime industry. There reforms going on in the NPA and NMASA are raising the bar of intelligence on our waterways. This is unlike before when the cost of insurance rising but its better now.”
On cost of building ships and need to subsidise with the ship fund NIMASA collects to reduce interest rates, he said: “Yes, cost of finance is high in Nigeria. The Cabotage Act provides for a financing fund to help locals acquire capacity, unfortunately, in the past several years, we saw that the fund was abused. So we say, lets not rush into it. What we have done is that we are reviewing the regulations guiding the disbursement. One commitment here, since 2007, no fund has been disbursed. Under this board, we will disburse it.”
On how the workers were reacting to the change, digitalization that could deprive them of some hidden benefits, Dg said: “Resistance can only be due to reasons. When people get a mental picture of where you are getting them to, they will imbibe the change. If they hope and future in the change, they will buy it, and if they believe the leader has the capacity to take them there, they will accept. So, we have given them the picture and we have communicated this to them clearly. Every step, we let them see what you are doing. I am a DG that holds meetings with staff. I permit them to abuse me if hey wanted to, but not my directors. I will go to war with you. We have clearly shown the roadmap of where we are going.
We are enjoying maximum cooperation with the workers. Another thing is that we give them their entitlement,; promotions, tools to work, etc. only one allowance waiting for approval.”
On how prepared NIMASA is for the visit of the US Coast Guard, he added: “They are coming to assess our compliance level. I can tell you, the Executive Director (Operations) has taken charge of that task. He is fully prepared and taken over the management of the IPSP Code. We are very ready and we are sure to get at least 90 per cent compliance”.
On maritime and the position of NDSP and the budget, he said; “The training is on course and it is in the 2017 budget; this is in addition to the regular training. In the past, many people went abroad to pick up degrees that are not relevant to the actual work of boarding vessels. Now, we are sending people to the relevant training, batch by batch.
If you earn a certificate without getting seafaring training, the degree is a worthless paper. The ones we are sending out around the world will earn their sea time experience so that they can board international vessels. Our dream is to be like the Philippines who earn more than those from oil. We want to get our fair share. They earn a minimum of $1000 per day or $30,000 per month. I don’t earn that kind of money. That is a big opportunity our people are missing. We want to push our people into that sector and compete and earn. We are committed this programme to earn sea time training”.
He was asked if NIMASA could shoulder the Maritime University and still fund Maritime Academy, Oron. His answer: “Oron by law gets 5 per cent of our earnings. There is no such provision in the Act for the Maritime University, Okorenkeko. You will have to wait for the Act to come out. I think that the funding will come from the FG. NIMASA can’t fund a university, that is the truth.
I believe that in passing the Act, the FG will make adequate provision for it. Specialised universities (Agric, Science and Tech, etc) get funding from the Ministry of Education, not by an agency such as NIMASA. My personal opinion is that the Maritime University will be funded by the FG directly. I believe we will do what is sustainable and that is for the FG to fund it. NIMASA is only to provide technical support and that we will do. By the time the Act is out, whatever they say, we comply. Right now, it is Oron that we are mandated to fund.”
Do you have plans to help improve the ability of journalists in the Niger Delta to cover international events because your ships operate more in the region? His answer; “Training of journalists (OTC): NIMASA is a maritime agency, while OTC is for oil and gas, upstream. We have not been keen in participating in it. From the records I have seen, NIMASA has not been funding OTC”.
When he was asked what would be the benefit of NIMASA presence in the eastern zone to the people of the Niger Delta, he said: “When you bring systems closer to the people, it helps the people to key in. Those involved in shipping in this region would now have closer access to the offices. More jobs would be created.”
Finally, how did NIMASA achieve this high security level, did Global West Nigeria (Tompolo) contract help in the drop in piracy? “We increased surveillance. We now have a satellite surveillance system. You can look at the screen and see the entire coastal outline of Nigeria. It’s called bird’s eye view. Nigerian Navy has theirs. We collaborate.
Also, we have sharpened our intelligence gathering with the support of DSS and others. We have raised the bar in maritime intelligence. Collaboration: We cooperate with the Nigerian Navy and at the touch of a button, the Navy and other Navies will respond.
“Response is faster now. We are pursuing faster response. Anti Piracy Law is coming too. Our draft bill is with the Fed Min of Justice. It is going to be an executive bill. If passed, Nigeria will be the first country in Africa to have such a law and it will give is a legal platform to fight piracy.
“Tompolo’s Global West Nigeria: The company is not the reason for our achievement. They are still being investigated by the EFCC. The contract is on but not in force. We are talking with Global West with the view to resolving all the issues.”