Bashir Jamoh: A burning passion for service (Part 1)

A popular African proverb says the morning determines the day. The morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. And experts say morning habits play a significant role in the success of an individual. That is why Dr. Bashir Jamoh’s early steps as Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) merit attention by stakeholders and the public, generally.

His coming happened under the shadow of Covid-19, at the start of the devastating hit to the national and global economies by the coronavirus pandemic. The world was virtually locked down, but maritime came to humanity’s rescue, offering strategic movement for badly needed goods and services. Jamoh was there to provide crucial direction for the safe and secure movement of the seafarers and the vital supplies they delivered.

NIMASA developed and published new guidelines, via marine notice, designating seafarers and dockworkers as essential workers who should be exempted from travel restrictions. It was in line with newly endorsed protocols by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) designed to lift barriers to crew change and support the shipping sector, amid the pandemic.

Maritime safety and security are topics that are close to Jamoh’s heart. Doubling down on some of the industry’s biggest problems on assumption office in March, he flagged commitment to Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Shipping Development as his administration’s roadmap to the sector’s progress in the next four years.

“I subsumed the critical responsibilities of the Agency into three pillars, a tripod, which I called Triple S or 3S, so that it can be easily remembered and understood,” he said. “They are Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Shipping Development. In this 3S you have the entire gamut of the mandate of the Agency.”

Jamoh is no stranger to the challenges in the maritime sector. He has seen the industry’s ups and downs in the last 32 years. And with the wisdom of hindsight – and foresight – he has set for his administration’s targets to overcome the challenges and move the industry forward.

The route is rough and long, but Jamoh knows the right place to start and how to invest where the shoe pinches. With great determination, he has set about fixing the mechanism for solution to the security issues behind the bad press that Nigeria consistently gets in the global maritime community.

“The first thing we tried to do when we came on board was to ensure collaboration and synergy among the actors,” Jamoh stated. “We improved our relationship with the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, Department of State Services (DSS), as well as the stakeholders. We created awareness as regards what to do in the event of attack by pirates or sea robbers. We started with our own territorial waters and escalated it to the Gulf of Guinea.”

The new synergy between NIMASA, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, DSS, and other maritime security actors in the last few months has yielded visible results. About 27 suspected pirates and sea robbers have been arrested, the first since 2016, in a strong message to the criminal elements and the international community. These suspects would be the first to be tried under Nigeria’s new antipiracy law, the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, which was signed into law in June last year by President Muhammadu Buhari. The law made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa to have one such distinct legislation.

The law aims to ensure safe and secure shipping at sea by criminalising and prosecuting piracy and other breaches. It provides a legal basis for the criminalisation and prosecution of piracy and other maritime crimes through the country’s maritime security enforcement agencies: the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA.

The Antipiracy Act contains unmistakable definitions of piracy and other maritime offences. It has provisions for penalties upon conviction for maritime crimes, restitution of violated maritime assets to owners, and forfeiture of proceeds of maritime crime to the government.

The law vests exclusive jurisdiction in the Federal High Court and provides relevant authorities with powers to seize pirate vessels or aircraft in Nigerian or international waters.

As part of the deliberate effort to ensure maritime security through concerted actions, NIMASA is leading moves to harmonise and intensify information sharing among the surveillance systems of the key maritime agencies. Jamoh is determined to achieve the synchronisation of NIMASA’s C4i with the Navy’s Falcon Eye, and the C3i, which belongs to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

The Command, Control, Communication, Computers, and Intelligence Centre (C4i Centre), which commenced operations on a 24-hour basis last year, is the intelligence arm of the Deep Blue Project, also known as the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure. The initiative aims to comprehensively tackle insecurity on Nigeria’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone, up to the Gulf of Guinea.

 .Obia is a staff of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).


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