THE 10TH NIGERIAN DREDGING
SUMMIT AND EXHIBITION
Venue: Axari Hotel,
Date: Wednesday-Friday, Nov. 23-25, 2016.
Time: 9am - 3pm daily.
Registration Fee: N75,000.00
Group Delegates: Discount apply.
Certificates of Attendance Available.
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Peterside: Re-Tooling NIMASA’s Core Mandate
Dr. Dakuku Peterside, D-G, NIMASA.
By Edmund Chilaka, Ph.D.
When asked who is Dakuku Peterside, the 46 year-old All Progressives
Congress (APC) former gubernatorial candidate for River State in the
last election simply replied: “ … a humble person, who will
not like anybody to be cheated….” At the Nigerian Maritime
Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) where he now works as Director-General
(DG), that self-assessment is about to be tested. NIMASA can be analogous
to Nigeria – complete with the ethnic heterogeneity, the demographic
and gender distribution, the feelings of hurt due to past injustice,
the competition amongst the middle and senior cadres for comeuppance
or ascendancy over others, the scurrying, sycophancy and genuflection
for favours, etc.
However, there is one commonality. Every NIMASA staff wants to keep
his or her job. It pays well, far above most government jobs and the
upper echelon enjoys some of the choicest perks for a Third World nation
like Nigeria. In fact, after Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was elected president
in 1999, he lamented during the prelude to his assumption of office
that 65% of all elite CVs he had received begging for job placements
were interested in a NIMASA appointment. It made him wonder what was
there! A few of the perks of office may have been reduced these days
due to the downturn in Nigeria’s economic fortune which the DG
decried has affected NIMASA’s revenue generation. According to
him, the current 51% drop in ship calls to Nigerian ports represents
dwindling revenue that should accrue from the collection of the 3% levy
of aggregate freight on Nigeria’s imports and exports. Nevertheless,
there is no gainsaying the fact of the pre-eminence of the Agency’s
salary structure amongst most civil service take-home pay packets in
the land. And, unlike a few other organizations, it is hardly paid in
arrears, for a staff strength well under 2,000.
L-R: Chairman Sente Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Ahmed
Rufai Sani, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Minister of Transportation,
Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and DG of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
All said, however, Peterside’s managerial acumen will be sorely
tested by how the Agency handles the deluge of demands from elite Nigerians,
including the ruling class, on the one hand, and issues of staff welfare,
on the other. These two heads accounts for that critical component of
its running costs which, from past experience, cannot be ignored. In
fact, when the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amechi, lamented
in December 2015 that “Over N100 billion is given to this agency
yearly and I am yet to see how it has been spent”, he was expressing
a popular critique of the way NIMASA’s earning have been frittered
in the past. Such sentiments have no place anymore in today’s
lexicon because the funds are no more flowing as before and the rising
chants of anti-corruption appear to have dampened the ardour for impunity
which fed the extravagance. Thus, for the new DG, the pressure by the
ruling class may be moderated. But the other problem of staff welfare,
especially promotion and wrong designation, would take some invention
to ameliorate. Succeeding DGs had employed relations and friends without
strict compliance with official guidelines, so that in some places new
graduates have been placed above their seniors in qualification and
experience. About four generations of this skewed employment method
now exist in the Agency and the aggrieved staffs have been clamouring
for justice. Some staffs have been on queue for promotion for upwards
of eight or ten years whereas available vacancies for elevation can
hardly satisfy the backlog. It will take something like the wisdom of
Solomon to address the malaise.
In an interview last month, Peterside confidently
parried questions about the difficulty of the situation. He said federal
civil service rules were explicit enough that promotions will be made
to fill only available vacancies. If, conversely, there exists a larger
backlog than can be presently accommodated, it seems imperative that
a ‘political dispensation’ of the promotion exercise would
have to be adopted. The magazine gathered that the cadre of “Chief”
officers, said to have about 112 expectant candidates, for example,
have only 46 vacancies, a far cry from the margin of happiness in the
matter. It seems the many years of wrongful placement of new employees
are about to take their toll on the personnel management model of NIMASA.
The other top schedules for the new helmsmen at the apex maritime regulatory
agency of Nigeria include well-worn cliché of rediscovering the
core mandates of NIMASA in a world where globalization and free trade
have made nonsense of the original gangplanks of the National Shipping
Policy of 1987. In November 2016, Amaechi reiterated an approval from
the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) for NIMASA to be restructured,
ostensibly, in line with changing realities. In the beginning, cargo
reservation which resulted in cargo sharing was the more understandable
format for the erstwhile National Maritime Authority (NMA) to facilitate
the participation of Nigerians in the affreightment of cargoes generated
by the nation’s economy. That was the era of the UNCTAD code of
40-40-20 which sat well with us as a poor Third World country whose
maritime traders could not compete with rich ship owners from the traditional
maritime nations. However, that programme became flawed when the cargo
allocation forms began to be sold to the highest bidders or whoever
was favoured by the sitting transport minister. In 2001, President Obasanjo
bowed to pressure from European shipping lines led by the likes of Maersk
Line and suspended that aspect of the Policy. This sounded the death-knell
of many fledgling indigenous carriers and their participation in ocean
shipping nose-dived to zero. Call to mind that while cargo reservation
lasted, it upheld the weak indigenous lines but also gave raison d’etre
to NMA. With the failure of that aspect of the Shipping Policy, even
the NMA took a hit because its most important core mandate was lost.
A new quest to rediscover itself became imperative. In fact, the promulgation
of Cabotage Law in 2004 and the merger of NMA with JOMALIC to form NIMASA
in 2007 were some of the essential efforts to reposition the agency.
The most important dividend would be the recovery of the facilitation
role to aid indigenous shipping lines’ participation in coastal
and ocean shipping, an industry that holds huge promises of many multiplier
effects for employment and increased GDP for Nigeria.
Dr. Peterside (8th from left), flanked by the Chief
of Army Staff, to his left, and top echelon of the Nigerian Army and
NIMASA when the DG paid a working visit Army Headquarters in Abuja recently.
Without a regime of support for Nigerian shipping lines to partake in
freighting her international trade, it is questionable what else could
justify its 3% levy collection. Section 15a of the NIMASA Act 2007 authorized
the Agency to collect 3% of gross freight on all exports and imports.
While 2% of the sum is for facilitation of Nigerian maritime trade,
1% is for the Agency to maintain itself, including the payment of staff
emoluments. When cargo sharing to indigenous carriers was in vogue,
there was no question that this function was deemed to be effect. With
the suspension of cargo sharing, however, a new regime of assistance
to approved indigenous sea traders was called for. Perhaps to clear
this quandary, the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 (Cabotage Law)
was promulgated with NIMASA as the implementing Agency. Indigenous operators
were supposed to find solace in tramping the coastal space and inland
waters, hauling cargoes around Nigerian maritime domain without competition
from the powerful foreign carriers. Unfortunately, the existence of
various lacunas and handicaps has hindered many local operators from
benefitting from the cabotage trade law.
Thus, although around 600 ships are captured in NIMASA’s register
of national cabotage fleet, not up to 10% are in a ready state to undertake
the off-shore transport and supply contracts on offer in the trade now.
Complaints abound from the Nigerians. Many ship surveyors have certificates
that are in need of re-certification. Many of their bottoms are out
of class and in dire need of engine repairs or dry-docking or both.
Even when fully repaired and put in order, most of the Nigerian fleets
are over-aged, hence their foreign competitors dub them ‘rust-buckets’
derogatorily. Other skilled local mariners cannot be employed because
of one lack of the other expiry in their certificates of competence
(COC). Many of these disadvantaged Nigerians are looking up to the NIMASA
to do something to lift their fortunes. Hence, in the management of
human capacity development, training or re-training, NIMASA sees new
opportunities to re-discover itself or retool its craft, with the hopes
of founding a new raison d’etre.
Dr. Peterside (6th from left), with the Nigerian
Navy High Command and top echelon of NIMASA staff during a working visit
to Navy Headquarters in Abuja.
Four years ago, the Agency began an ambitious programme to train seafarers,
both to replace the ageing first and second generation of Nigeria’s
trained mariners, and to break into the global industry that supplies
shipping crew to the world’s merchant marine. An industry dominated
by the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Egypt and Indonesia cannot be impossible
for Nigeria. The first nautical school in the country, Maritime Academy
of Nigeria Oron was established in 1978 with UN assistance, which paid
for the first Rector, an Egyptian, to kick-start the institution along
international lines of best practices. The graduates of its Higher National
Diploma in Nautical Science, Marine Engineering and Navigation courses
went on to become successful international seafarers on board ships
of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), Black Star Line (BSL)
and other ocean going carriers from across the world. The NNSL was a
huge platform of motivation for up-and-coming cadets because they found
ready training berths aboard its ships. With its liquidation in 1995,
however, that door of opportunity closed. To date, over 5,000 MAN Oron
HND graduates awaiting the mandatory 1-year sea-time experience before
they could proceed with further education in the seafaring trades are
L-R: Bashir Jamoh, executive director, finance and
administration; Gambo Ahmed, executive director, operations; and Joseph
Fashakin, executive director, labour and cabotage services.
Thus, the NIMASA National Seafarer Development Programme (NSDP), under
which hundreds of young Nigerians have been trained in seafaring in
local and foreign schools, is a bold step to take the bull by the horns
and fast track the birth of the next generation skilled Nigerian mariners.
Incidentally, they would also need sea-time experience, their foreign
diplomas notwithstanding. Peterside confided in the DDH magazine that
with efforts made so far by the Agency, about 200 ND graduates will
be going on board some foreign ships for the sea-time programme before
the end of the 2016. Furthermore, NIMASA would henceforth pay foreign
shipping lines and other pre-qualified ship managers to find cadet berths
for Nigerian trainees. He informed the magazine that advertisements
would soon be issued for this project.
In all this, the energy Peterside brought to the job was undeniable.
Some NIMASA staffs discretely interviewed by the magazine confirmed
that he doesn’t leave files pending on his table. Whether this
attitude would wane with the passage of time is an open question but
the optimism was rife that if he continued in this wise and to learn
fast on the job, the Agency would soon surmount its critical challenges.
Nevertheless, some of NIMASA’s current engagements appear hazy
or poorly grounded, such as the renewed attempt to float a new national
shipping line. Ordinarily, state-owned shipping lines are commercial
aberrations in liberal economies. Many attempts by nation-states to
run shipping lines floundered in time and Nigeria became a victim of
the fraudulent nature of such SOEs when NNSL collapsed. Thus, this new
foray is being viewed in many quarters with studied silence or outright
skepticism. The DG said that the proposed carrier being floated with
Singapore’s President International Lines (PIL), would be “private
sector-driven”; Nigerian companies would be free to buy shares
to obtain partnership in the venture, which some industry operators
view at best as fumbling with an amorphous entity of unproven characteristics.
As at press time, it was not known when the committee charged with fine-tuning
the modalities for the set-up of the carrier would come out with its
recommendation. That committee is headed by the Executive Secretary
of Nigerian Shippers Council, Alh. Hassan Bello.
The new NIMASA boss also spoke on the controversial maritime security
contract awarded to Global West Vessel Management, stating that the
contract was only suspended for EFCC investigation purposes but still
intact. In the meantime, he clarified that the project of maritime domain
security apparatus which was maintained by concurrence of the Nigerian
Navy continues to be executed on the basis of regular naval patrols
of the coastal waters as before the Global West contract. For an excerpt
of his answers to other questions posed during the encounter, see box.
INTERVIEW WITH THE D-G OF NIMASA, DR PETERSIDE DAKUKU
“…Our laws are clear, that if we have
a national carrier, they should be given preference in lifting of our
cargo, and we’ll get everybody to comply with the provisions of
the law." - Peterside.
DG NIMASA being interviewed by Dr. Edmund Chilaka.
DDH: Now that the federal government is interrogating the
former maritime domain safety and security operational arrangement,
how will our waters, maritime endowments and deployed infrastructure
for the oil and gas sector continue to be safeguarded for maritime security
vis-à-vis the depredations of pirates or incursions of unauthorized
operators at sea?
Peterside: Before the Global West contract, maritime assets
were secured. What the Global West contract sought to do was to enhance
it and acquire more assets to enable NIMASA to do its enforcement and
regulatory function, and further secure the assets. Now with the Global
West contract technically suspended, we have taken a number of initiatives.
One, is to enlist fast security vessels to enable us do our regulatory
and enforcement functions as well as also support our partners to secure
our maritime domain. In addition, you know we have a satellite surveillance
system in place, a maritime domain awareness system, to keep a bird’s
eye view of our maritime domain to secure our waters. We still have
a relationship with the military, the Navy, the Air force to work together
to collaborate to secure our maritime domain. So I think that we don’t
have a major challenge with that.
DDH: What new changes can we expected to improve flag state
and port state control administration in Nigeria?
Peterside: We are commencing the process of flag and port state
control. We are training more of our officers. Recently the United State
Coast Guard offered us a place in their training institute for port
and flag state function. We are also about to begin the error of scheduling
vessels for port and flag state control. We are also about to start
the era of scheduling vessels for port state control, using digital
means. In addition, we are coming up with a new guideline for engagement
of exclusive surveyors from non-exclusive surveyors, and the engagement
and certifications of our surveyors. The cumulative effect of all of
these is that we are going to have enhanced ports and flag state function,
and the derivative is more compliance with international convention
for Nigeria expertise.
DDH: On the CVFF, is NIMASA happy with the implementation
of Cabotage Law?
Peterside: We cannot say we are happy, we can only be happy
when we have 100% compliance. We are not there yet, but one thing is
that before now very few vessels were built in Nigeria. Now we have
many vessels built in the country, even though not 100% built in the
country. We have more Nigerian owning more vessels than they did in
2003. We have more Nigerians manning vessels than they did in 2003.
So, we have made progress. But are we where we are supposed to be? The
answer is no. Are we working towards that goal? The answer is yes. I
think we are working towards the goal, we are making appreciatable progress,
we are tightening our knot, we are crossing our ‘t’s and
dotting our ‘i’s. So I think we are on course.
DDH: Do you think Nigerian operators are being encouraged?
Peterside: Nigerian operators are not encouraged the way they
should be, but those factors are beyond us. It has to do with the global
downturn or a dip in the oil and gas industry. You know many decisions
are actually business decisions, it’s not decisions that you just
make for the sake of national interest. Not even concerned with the
business side of it. People are in business to make profit and so you
are not going to make decision and seem to choose deliberately to ignore
all the other contending factors, you must factor all of that in making
decisions even in the enforcement of rules. We are focused on ensuring
that Nigeria optimizes the benefit in Cabotage Act. We are not ignorant
to the fact that the prevailing factors may constitute some threat.
NIMASA DG, Dr. Peterside, flanked by Dr. Chilaka (left) and Hajia
Lami Tumaka (right) during the interview.
DDH: Still NIMASA would like to encourage… (cuts in)
Peterside: Of course, NIMASA would do everything humanly possible
to encourage the indigenous players.
DDH: As you know, the essence of Cabotage
law is to restrict the business to Nigerians.
Peterside: Very true.
DDH: The record we have had so far is that a lot of the
local players are not encouraged as they should be….
Peterside: Everything that is within our power, we will
do to encourage local players.
DDH: Are you engaging them?
Peterside: Yes we are.
DDH: Because there is the Nigerian Indigenous Ship Owners
Association (NISA) and the last I heard, they were supposed to be working
towards lifting crude oil….
Peterside: Am not aware.
DDH: Well, I heard of this amongst the industry operators…
Peterside: Crude oil is outside the Cabotage Law.
DDH: But NIMASA’s core mandate is to help Nigeria
participation in international shipping. So, there’s an expectation
that NIMASA should do all in its powers to encourage Nigerians in both
Cabotage and Ocean Shipping?
Peterside: We cannot be a jack of all trade, because it’s
DDH: What role will NIMASA play in the establishment of
the national fleet?
Peterside: NIMASA is the agency of government with the
responsibility to promote shipping, and so, strictly speaking, establishment
of national fleet falls strictly under the purview of NIMASA. It’s
being driven by our parent ministry, so it has our total support, and
we are doing that.
DDH: Will the national fleet, as we have heard, be assisted
to lift crude oil?
Peterside: I believe so. Our laws are clear, that if we
have a national carrier, they should be given preference in lifting
up our cargo, we’ll get everybody to comply with the provisions
of the law.
DDH: I have this question still on improving the participation
of Nigerians in ocean shipping?
Peterside: That is international trade. That’s what
the national fleet is going to address.
DDH: Is NIMASA going to prequalify our national carriers
for this participation?
Peterside: I don’t understand what you mean?
DDH: Who amongst Nigerian carriers will NIMASA assist and
Peterside: You see, everybody who is interested in buying
shares or acquiring shares in the national fleet is free to come forward
and acquire shares, you pay your money.
DDH: So it will be a company?
Peterside: Of course, it will be a company. It’s
not going to be a government thing. It’s owned by the private
sector. Government is only facilitating it in bringing people together,
encouraging people to come together, government is not financing it.
Government only plays as a facilitator.
DDH: On another matter, the Minister of Agriculture once
complained that his ministry officials went to arrest operators of fishing
trawlers and he was alluding to something like an inter-agency clash
Peterside: There is no inter-agency clash. In terms of
fishing trawlers, it’s the responsibility of NIMASA to register
the trawlers, but it’s the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture
to regulate deep-sea fishing. So there is no clash, we have our different
roles and there is also a law that sets up inter-Ministerial inter-Agency
standing committee. So, there is absolutely no clash in it.
DDH: Has there been meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture
since the minister raised that issue to address that?
Peterside: Yes, we have had a number of engagements; in
fact, the meetings continue.
DDH: How will all zones be encouraged to participate in
the National Seafarer Development Programme? Is there any effort to
ensure that there is a fair representation?
Peterside: Yes there is. It’s a national intervention
thing and we have two streams of NSDP program. One, states were encouraged
to come forward to support and part-sponsor the candidates from their
various states. States were supposed to pay some percentage and NIMASA
will match up with some percentage for those set. There is another string
where NIMASA funded 100%. But we have put a hold right now on further
recruitment of persons into the NSDP program. We are planning for NSDP
3 and until we come out with a holistic concept that is all-inclusive,
we can then roll out NSDP 3. Our vision for NSDP 3 is that all parts
of Nigeria would be represented in the program. Once we have as many
seafarers as we can get and begin to earn foreign exchange, our promise
is to do seafaring the way Philippinnes and China do.
DDH: And this is part of human capacity development, just
like we have in Nigerian Maritime University? Is NIMASA going to do
anything, what is going to happen to it, in view of the political nature
it has taken?
Peterside: And I have said there is nothing political
about it, government is simply reviewing that initiative, and until
government comes out with final position there is nothing anybody can
do about it.
DDH: There is this issue about SNEPCO and debt recovery,
which made some headlines sometime ago. Is NIMASA’s money out
there and is it difficult to get it in?
Peterside: Well, we have made our own effort to recover
some of the debts that we are been owed and we are not satisfy with
the progress we have made. Am not saying that we have not made progress,
we have, but am not satisfied. And if there is any time we need money,
it’s now at a time of recession, we need money. Fewer vessels
are calling at our ports, so our revenue is dwindling. So, everything
that needs to be done for us to earn more revenue we are going to do
it and contribute to the consolidated revenue funds. And part of our
strategy is debt recovery. And we truly need help. So engagement of
a firm to help us recover our debt is in line with the provision of
the law and we passed through every due process to engage the firm.
So, I don’t think there is an issue.
DDH: How much money are we talking about here?
Peterside: By my own record, we are owed $424 million.
But people keep claiming that they have different records.
DDH: Who are the major debtors?
Peterside: Shipping companies, shipping lines and agents.
DDH: But $424m is a lot of money…
Peterside: It’s over a period of ten years starting
from the time of NMA, not this year, not last year. Some of the firms
are no longer operating and that means we cannot recover all, but let’s
just recover most.
DDH: Let us come to this issue of internal promotions; there
is a lot of staffs complaining.
Peterside: This is the first time in many years that we
are doing a comprehensive promotion in the Agency. This is the first
time we are doing a comprehensive promotion exercise.
DDH: What do you say to somebody who has been waiting for
14 years for example?
Peterside: This promotion exercise will address such problems.
DDH: How does your current engagement in NIMASA enlarge
your world view and perception of political leadership in a country
Peterside: Shipping and maritime business are international
in nature and if you are in this industry, you have no option than to
engage at the global level. You must certainly see things from a different
perspective. Because you must seek to understand their own view, so
you are not going to have a narrow view of life. It will definitely
enlarge your world view and improve your decisions to better decisions
that will appeal to a wider audience.
DDH: Have you benefitted from the experience to add to your
DDH: Who is Dakuku Peterside?
Peterside: God-fearing person who is always optimistic
that the future will be better than today and who believes that treating
people fairly and justly is the best value that anybody can give as
DDH: How do you therefore look at the political situation
in River State and what are you going to do about it?
Peterside: It’s nauseating. At the appropriate time,
all Rivers people will come together and address it. I don’t believe
that the current government represents the yearnings and aspirations
of the Rivers people. A government is supposed to represent who its
people are. This does not represent who we are. We are not violent people.
We are our brother’s keeper. We are very accommodating. We are
very liberal but very progressive. The current situation in River State
represents the opposite of who we are. And I believe that at the appropriate
time, the Rivers people will rise up and enthrone the kind of government
DDH: Are you going back to contest in 2019?
Peterside: I won’t say that because we are not there
yet. I have a job. My focus now is to deliver on this job