LISCON as vehicle for developing Nigeria’s maritime domain
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is statutorily responsible for the country’s maritime safety administration, maritime labour regulations, marine pollution prevention control, search and rescue operation and Cabotage enforcement. Other responsibilities of the Agency are shipping development and ship registration; training and certification of seafarers, as well as maritime capacity development. The agency also has responsibility to ensure activities carried out in Nigeria’s territorial waters, including its exclusive economic zones, are in line with international laws and conventions. This includes adoption of international best practices by those operating in the country’s maritime sector.
However, the dynamics of maritime trade requires constant innovation – what is generally referred to as thinking outside the box – beyond what is statutory, to be able to keep pace with new developments in the industry. That is to say that there is always need for new ideas and initiatives for enhancing the operations of an agency such as NIMASA, to be able to discharge its mandate. One of such initiatives is the current outreach by NIMASA to the eight littoral states on Nigeria’s coast, with seaward boundaries. The states are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Rivers. Littoral States engagement initiative Cooperation of Nigeria (LISCON), a developmental outreach involving NIMASA and the eight littoral states that lie
The outreach, which is the brainchild of the current NIMASA administration, is designed to be a non-statutory, opt-in, developmental cooperation to guarantee the sustained and strategic exploration of Nigeria’s maritime assets, which are quite enormous and are either not fully tapped or not well protected. This engagement exercise, which we hope will in time translate into a working cooperation amongst the littoral states, is to be midwifed and driven by the agency. It will serve as a forum that would enable the agency and the littoral states to regularly compare notes and engage in peer review and mutually beneficial support systems for the purpose of achieving our collective nautical aspirations, sea economics and good maritime governance.
When operational, the programme, under the supervision of NIMASA, will serve as a vehicle for harnessing the cooperation of the littoral states to act as the engine room to fast track development of Nigeria’s maritime domain, in line with the agency’s mandates and the various maritime legislations in the country.
As states that are situated on the country’s coastline, they are the ones that feel the immediate impact, positive or negative, of activities that take place in the waters, especially from an international perspective. Cooperation between them and the maritime regulator is therefore an absolute necessity for the achievement of the objective of making Nigeria benefit optimally from global maritime business, especially considering its strategic role in the Gulf of Guinea where it accounts for more than 70 per cent of the trade that is carried out in the region.
I have had the privilege to visit the Governors of five of the eight littoral states: Bayelsa, Lagos, Ondo, Delta and Rivers. What is clear so far is that various states possess unique comparative advantages related to their respective maritime environment and endowments.
A partnership involving NIMASA, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Bayelsa State and a South African technical consultant, NALEDI Foundry, for the revitalization of an old foundry in the premises of the corporation for the purpose of recycling wrecks and relics for economic benefits is on the verge of taking off.
The exercise is a bold initiative by NIMASA to turn waste into wealth, with the economic benefits of revenue generation for the federal government, job creation and enhancement of expertise for Nigerians in the use of modern technology in wrecks recycling. While the NRC is to provide the premises where the foundry is located, NALEDI Foundry will provide the technical expertise.
NIMASA and Bayelsa State are to provide the counterpart funding for the project.
Another of the interventions of from the littoral states engagement programme is the proposed support for the rehabilitation of the Ayetoro Technical Institute in Ondo State, one of Nigeria’s foremost maritime technical schools. The institution has suffered abandonment for decades. Its rehabilitation will help to boost Nigeria’s training capacity and manpower development for the maritime sector.
There are several projects lined up in this NIMASA-led initiative for other coastal states, all of which are designed specifically to suit the environment and boost the capacity of each state to contribute to the development of the country’s maritime space. They are to be implemented one after the other. The aim is to make each state an active participant in the maritime development process, for the overall benefit of the country.
Dr. Jamoh is the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency