Kudos, knocks greet Dakuku’s two years as NIMASA DG

Funso Olojo  |

It was a mixed bag of feelings from Maritime stakeholders who gave their assessment of the performance of Dakuku Peterside who clocked two years in office as the Director General  of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA),
It would be recalled that Dakuku was appointed on  March 10th  2016 to steer the ship of the agency which was enmeshed in monumental financial scandal perpetrated  by the previous Patrick Akpobolokemi’s maladministration.

However, two years down the line, the Dakuku- led management has, according to industry watchers, done its best within its capacity to reposition the agency for greater efficiency, especially as being canvassed by the management in different fora where several programmes undertaken by the agency were showcased.

However, others felt differently as they claimed that the agency, under the leadership of the Rivers state-born politician, has performed below the expectations of industry stakeholders.

Lucky Amiwero, President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), expressed disappointment over what he called the woeful performance of the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, since he occupied the exalted seat in the last two years.

Amiwero, came hard on Dakuku, describing his tenure so far as a colossal failure, as he said the agency under Peterside has woefully failed to fulfill its mandates of building indigenous capacity, growing and supporting Nigerian owned and flagged vessels and ensuring marine safety in line with acceptable global standard as enshrined in its enabling laws.

According to him, the achievement of collecting huge monies for government is not bad, but should not be seen as a major feat because NIMASA is not a revenue collecting agency.

“Dakuku Peterside has failed in the core function of NIMASA’s responsibility. He should read, acquaint himself with and diligently apply Section 42 of the Cabotage Act 2003; Sections 16,17 and 18 of the NIMASA Act 2007.

“These pieces of legislation, when married with the Nigeria Local Content Law 2010 will boost the economy by building the capacity of Nigerians through real empowerment like releasing monies meant for the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF).

“According to the law, twenty five percent of NIMASA fund is supposed to be used for capacity building. Placing such money in any account, be it Treasury Single Account or any other purpose is unlawful.

“Deploying the money to any other purpose is also a violation of Section 22k of the NIMASA law which directs that it be used to build shipping infrastructure. He has failed to comply with this.

“Any other purpose for which such monies are being deployed is an illegality as it is unlawful diversion. I urgently call on the National Assembly to intensify its oversight on NIMASA to prevent such diversion

“The very expensive seminars and costly travels he engages in are not enough to hold on to as achievements in the last two years. He should learn from the United States re-modified Jones Act which incorporates a fleet expansion programme.

”He is empowered by our laws to impact on our economy and this should be his focus. I advise him to resist the temptation of diverting maritime and cabotage funds for any reason other than what they are meant for.

“These monies are not NIMASA money, they should not be idling away in any other account other than being disbursed to the indigenous investors and practitioners who will create more wealth and grow the economy.

“He should be guided to avoid being a subject of probe when a new government takes charge after his tenure. I expect him to learn from his predecessor’s mistakes”,

Amiwero noted.

The maritime industry commentator also advised the NIMASA DG to stay focused on the job that he should not be too engrossed with partisan politics while overseeing an agency like NIMASA.

On his part, Emeka Akabogu, Senior Partner, Akabogu and Associates and Convener, OTL Africa Downstream Expo, also believed that the agency has fallen short of the expectations of the industry stakeholders.

“NIMASA in the last two years has been making efforts to reposition, it has done well in some ways but it still has a long way to go. Across the various indices on which the maritime grows, it can be tracked and say that the scorecard, we have seen improvement.

“I think it is more important to focus on the indices that develop the port and we have not seen enough effort in the true indices of industry development one of which is tonnage development so, I want to see and judge based on practical indices which are on ground and not on broad grandiose statement.

“What is the volume and of tonnage which existed in 2016 compared to today, am talking of Nigerian tonnage, to what extent have Nigerian ship owners become more active in Cabotage trade, to what extent can it be said that seafarers who are currently onboard Nigerian vessels and support vessels are being treated in line with the provisions of the MLC 2006, have we increased capacity in ship building, do we have more ship yards or the existing ship yards are being operated better today than they were in the past?

“So, I will like to make practical indices because practical indices will speak for themselves,

Akabogu declared.

Engineer Emmanuel Ilori, Scribe, Indigenous Ship-owners Association (ISAN), made a cautious analysis of Dakuku performance.

“Don’t forget before the coming of Dakuku, where was the industry, the industry was at its knees and as the minister said that there was the need to restructure the industry. There were two things the minister did, the restructuring and creation of new fleet for the industry.

“Since Dakuku came, he has been focusing on restructuring NIMASA and don’t forget that NIMASA is the apex regulatory body therefore, he needed to begin the process of reorganization of the department.

“We cannot say the pace is slow, in the process of re-engineering, a massive organization like NIMASA will take its time to get it right. Dakuku is on the right path. Don’t forget that NIMASA used to have a negative perception.

“The industry at the present may be suffering a loss due to various other factors but NIMASA did not create the global recession, it did not create the lull in oil prices that affected ship operations, ship support services and don’t forget that Nigeria is dependent on off shore supply services  with very limited engagement with national shipping. So, one cannot say he is not doing enough. By and large, you cannot give him a failure mark

“The involvement of indigenous shipping operators is what we need to focus on and unfortunately, the involvement of indigenous shipping operators is not just one of those issues. Don’t forget the issue of finance is there and unfortunately, there are many issues militating against them that are making business difficult for them especially the involvement of foreign operators or what we can say is the dominance of foreign operators in the Nigerian shipping industry. Until there are changes, it is going to be very difficult. Don’t forget that depends largely on the supply of the trade and to give Nigerian indigenous operators access to the trade. The ultimate is for Nigerian goods to be carried by Nigerians.

“Support them and once they have guarantee of cargo, then there is going to be a chance for them to maintain their ships and invest in new ships. For the industry to boom there has to be guarantee of cargo to indigenous ship operators

“There is no significant improvement and none will be until there is guarantee of cargo for indigenous ship operators either of wet or dry cargo. Look at the issue of NLNG dimension, the NLNG still has guarantee of cargoes, therefore their bottom line is guarantee and they can invest in buying ships, in managing ships and in maintaining ships but we don’t have that advantage for indigenous ship operators to carry cargoes. You people should raise the awareness for NNPC to make Nigerian cargoes available to Nigerians sustainably and then we can develop shipping and until such a time, you cannot expect to have any significant development’’, the ship owner concluded,

Engineer Alalade Matthew, the President, Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA) also toed the line of cautious optimism.

“Dakuku is expected to spend four years in office, he has just gone half way and I believe he is improving in the industry. When he came in, he learnt and he is still learning and I will give him a pass mark.

“Since he is half way in his first term, I cannot rightly assess but he is above average.

“I want him to improve seafarers issue in terms of getting jobs. The cabotage is yet to take a firm root after more than a decade. Even some of our Nigerian owners prefer engaging foreign seafarers than engaging Nigerian seafarers and I don’t know why. NIMASA should see to this’’.

Engineer Charles Uwadia, the President, Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES) thought in similar vein.

“He cannot get it 100%. I will score him close to 80% for now and I believe that the 20% are the areas where the stakeholders and the regulators can sit together and address.

“That is why we are organizing a program in April to highlight the grey areas which we want NIMASA to look into. In the area of security, I will say things are getting better.

For Increase Uche, President National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), it is a thumb down for Peterside in the last two years.

“He has not impacted on the sector. There is too much talk about what they want to do, what they are doing which is different from what has been done. He travels round the world with his boss (Ameachi). They see what good maritime administrations look like but cannot implement it here.

“There is nothing tangible to hold on to on Cabotage. All we hear about CVFF are talks. As the apex maritime administrator, NIMASA is supposed to bring stakeholders together and harmonise views for efficient implementation. But it has failed in this direction under Dakuku.

“I think he is not doing much because he is a product of political compensation. As a body, NAGAFF visited him, offered him advice and sought partnership for human capital development in the sector. He ignored our counsel and prefers seeking advice from abroad after multiple tours that puts estacodes in his pocket

“He has performed below average, he is failing. His woeful performance at the IMO Council Election where so much funds was spent despite his position as AMA Chairman has serious implication on Nigeria.

“Where the maritime world takes decisions that affect the industry at global level, Nigeria with her size and enormous potentials will be excluded only to implement or domesticate resolutions we were not part of. Dakuku Peterside is failing’’, the NAGAFF boss declared.

The President of Nigerian Licensed Ship Chandlers Association, Dr. Martin’s Enebel, also berated Dakuku for what he described as his forkful performance.

According to him, NIMASA, under Dakuku, has failed in its core mandate of development and growth of the industry, capacity building and empowering indigenous ship operators.

“All what he does is to engage in junketing round the world, wasting our scarce resources on estacodes while he leaves work that will add value to the industry largely unattended to’’,

Enebeli noted.

 

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