In recent times there have been many descriptions and even depictions of the Gulf of Guinea in not too encouraging terms or colours as it relates to maritime security. It is against this backdrop that I assume office as the 13th Director General of NIMASA and not oblivious of this painful narrative. So, in getting down to brass-tacks, I intend to ensure that ‘Security is Priority’ as Chief Executive. I do not wish to rehash the statistics as that is already common knowledge, depending on your source of course.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that the destiny of all of our maritime hopes and dreams, especially the development of our Blue Economy lies in the stableness of our seas – from our immediate national coastal waters to the expanse of the Bight of Benin in the Atlantic. I am reminded, having served in the maritime industry for almost three decades, that if there’s only one thing I hope I can bequeath at the end of my time, let it be that we helped in delivering calmer seas – seas conducive to the business of global shipping and marine ecosystem sustainability. Every other maritime ambition, from environmental and operational safety to productive shipping development, rises and falls on maritime security.
Never in the history of our collective maritime contract under the IMO has there been a time when security over shipping activities has assumed such prominent position as today. With the IMB dutifully keeping records of piracy and updating all maritime stakeholders on security hotspots in near real-time, the Gulf of Guinea cannot afford to remain atop this notorious ranking with all its costly economic implications trickled down to its citizens as insurers continue to levy war-time premiums on cargos destined for our shores.
This is precisely why securing our immediate waters from the activities of pirates is essentially in our nation’s enlightened self-interest after all. Additionally, espousing more collaborative synergies with our West African neighbour-states in the region cannot be overemphasized and will not be overlooked. We are all in this together. It is also my intention to extend our collaboration to corral the involvement of other stakeholders such as the UNODC, the oil & gas multinationals, and the international shipping community at large towards the effective implementation of all international maritime and labour instruments in addressing the challenges enumerated.
While piracy continues to headline the pack we must not forget the plethora of other threats lurking against our maritime security – whether it is IUU fishing, illegal human and arms trafficking, terrorism at sea, prohibited offshore oil exploration, wanton dumping of various vicious wastes that endanger marine life amongst others. These are all threats that can stymie our nautical fortunes; threats to our security and survival. Only when we make security a priority in perpetuity can we hope to guarantee, as statutory regulator, that all-too-important conducive maritime domain and the level playing field desired by all stakeholders.
Here is congratulating Dr. Dakuku Peterside for a successful tenure as we at NIMASA wish him well in his future posting. I am thankful for the privilege to have also served in the previous executive management in delivering the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act 2019 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, which is timely in all its ramifications in this fight against sea crimes. To boot is the anticipated manifest deployment of our ‘Deep Blue’ project in all its comprehensiveness in the coming months as a significant proportion of the platforms are now in place. Buoyed by the determination of our willing, able and ready Nigerian Navy, Marine Police and other security agencies, Nigeria is adopting a ‘whatever-it-takes’ posture in the fight against every watery menace as we shall no longer fold our arms and watch trespassers perpetrate illegalities. Not on my watch!
Dr. Bashir Jamoh