Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency

Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency
Formation 1 August 2006
Purpose/focus Regulate the maritime industry of Nigerian
Headquarters Maritime House, #4, Burma Road, Apapa, Lagos
Official languages English
Director General Zaikede Patrick Akpobolokemi

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), formerly the National Maritime Authority (NMA) is responsible for regulations related to Nigerian shipping, maritime labor and coastal waters. The agency also undertakes inspections and provides search and rescue services.[1] The governing board includes representatives of the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Transport and the Navy.[2]


National Maritime Authority

The National Maritime Authority (NMA), predecessor of NIMASA, was established by the Shipping Policy Decree of 11 May 1987, and was supervised by the Federal Ministry of Transport. Its mandate was to ensure orderly development, protection and manpower training in the shipping industry.[3] The NMA also was given responsibility for monitoring marine pollution and spillage in Nigerian waters.[4] The oil platforms off the Niger Delta are vulnerable, and the decree recognized the role of maritime cargo carriage in defense.[5]

Cargo allocation

The decree establishing the NMA applied the 40-40-20 principal defined by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This meant that 40 of cargo should be allocated to ships from the importer, 40% to ships from the exporter and 20% subject to open competition, which may include ships from other countries. For non-conference and bulk cargoes it went further, sharing on a 50-50 basis, with the NMA having authority to allocate all export cargoes.[6] Despite this ruling, in practice the oil extraction companies supplied their own tankers to transport most of the crude to their refineries abroad.[7] However, members of the American-West African Shipping Conference said they had been arbitrarily denied shipments by the NMA, an issue raised several times by the United States government.[8] In 1988 the NMA announced that it would be setting up freight booking offices in Liverpool, London, Hamburg, Paris, Tokyo, New York and Brazil. Dr. Bassey U. Ekong, Director General of the NMA, said the centers would record all in-bound Nigerian cargos and would ensure "full implementations of UNCTAD's 40-40-20 principle". In the end, none of the offices opened.[9]

Foreign shippers

In 1988 the NMA granted six Nigerian shipping lines "national carrier" status, including the state-owned Nigerian National Shipping Line. The NMA had plans to extend this status to more domestic companies so as to reduce control of trade by foreign-owned lines.[10] For reasons of national pride, the NMA did not encourage domestic shipping lines to engage in feeder services, bringing goods to a distribution point for direct onward shipping, preferring direct-line services. An NMA official said in 1989 "the development of feeder services is not at the moment consonant with the region's maratime development". According to UNCTAD, the lines would have been best suited to feeder services, and ignoring this approach may have led to their demise.[11]

Dependence on foreign shippers, who were carrying over 80% of cargo by 1992, made the country vulnerable. When the NMA attempted to impose a dock charge of $0.25 per metric tonne of crude oil loaded in Nigerian ports and oil terminals, the shipping companies threatened to go elsewhere, saying the charge would make Nigerian oil uncompetitive. The NMA had no choice but to suspend the fee.[12] The NMA charges on shipping lines that called into Nigerian ports were increased in 2003, with a surcharge being added to taxes on all Nigerian freights. In December 2004, based on recommendations from the World Bank, the government announced that all NMA charges would be scrapped as of January 2005. There were delays in implementing the change.[13]


During the period between 1987 and 1992 the NMA staff included some professionals, mainly transport economists. However, most employees had no experience in the shipping industry but were hired due to their connections. As a result, the NMA was ineffective at best. At a 1991 seminar the NMA was said to be inefficient and corrupt. One particularly harsh characterization was that the NMA was "a dead dog, but a dangerous one, because it sucks blood by collecting money in hard currency for services not rendered".[14] In the 1980s and 1990s the National Maritime Authority administered the Ship Acquisition and Ship Building Fund, giving loans that were intended to encourage ownership of ships by Nigerians. Some loans were used for that purpose, while much of the money was diverted to other uses by politicians, friends of the military junta and "briefcase ship owners". The fund was suspended in the late 1990s, but most of the money was never recovered.[15]

In 2003, Nigeria provided just $25 million for shipping development, a very small amount given the size of the country.[16] Writing in 2004, Ayodeji Olukoju said "In effect, both the indigenous entrepreneurs and the National Maritime Authority merely play the role of rent collectors. The latter's earnings (in hard currency) rather than serve in any meaningful way to develop the industry have simply made it a veritable honey-pot plundered by successive governments and their agents".[17]

NIMASA Activities

NIMASA was created on 1 August 2006 when the National Maritime Authority was merged with the Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council. Both were formerly parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Transport.[18] Under the act establishing NIMASA, 5% of annual income would support the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) and 35% of income would be used to develop maritime infrastructure.[19] The agency provided funding to MAN for a jetty and boat project.[20] In December 2009 the agency said it was setting up a fund which would cover 40% of the cost of a nautical education, with the student being responsible for the remainder.[21]

In June 2010 it was confirmed that NIMASA was encouraging Nigerians to enter the maritime industry. The agency was enforcing the directive that all ship operators engaged in the cabotage trade, whether Nigerian or foreign-owned, must have Nigerian cadets on board so they could gain sea-time experience. However, there was still a severe shortage of trained sailors.[22] As of 2011 the agency was still spending large amounts on training Nigerians in India, Glasgow and Egypt because MAN lacked the capability to provide complete training. A government plan to open new training institutes was under criticism, since they seemed likely to be operated no more effectively than MAN.[19]

In May 2011 NIMASA was mediating between the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, who were seeking improved wages and terms of service.[23] NIMASA was involved in the debate over a proposal to create a Maritime Security Agency (MASECA) as a successor to the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS). The objective was to provide greater protection for merchant vessels against rising levels of piracy. However, NIMASA and the United Nations were concerned that MASECA could be in conflict with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, which does not allow merchant ships to be armed.[24] The MASECA act also seemed to be in conflict with the act establishing NIMASA.[25]

In June 2011 the agency promoted over 60% of its staff, including 135 junior staff who were promoted to the next grade levels, and 536 senior staff.[26] Also in June 2011, it was announced that NIMASA would be acting as the approving authority and guarantor for beneficiaries of a new Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund, this time administered by banks, replacing the former Ship Acquisition and Ship Building Fund.[15]


Dr. Bassey U. Ekong was the Director General in 1988.[9] Director General Alhaji Munir Jafar’ was replaced by Buba Galadima, who was Director General of the NMA from 1996 to 1998.[27] Galadima was said to have diverted funds from the NMA to the transmutation campaign of General Sani Abacha. He was succeeded by John Egesi, a maritime economist.[28] Egesi, who had been promoted from within the organization, was dismissed after only three months due to internal intrigues.[29]

Dr George Mbanefo Eneh was appointed Director-General of the National Maritime Authority in 1999.[30] Eneh, a World Bank transport expert, was followed after a year by Architect Ferdinand Agu.[28] Agu served for four years, being reappointed for a second term during the tenure of Abiye Sekibo as Transport Minister. He was dismissed in December 2005.[29] Agu was replaced by Engineer Festus Ugwu, who was followed by Mrs Mfon Ekong Usoro, a maritime lawyer.[28] Usoro was succeeded by Dr. Shamsideen Adegboyega Dosunmu, who holds a PhD in public administration, and was appointed in May 2007. Dosunno had been promoted from the job of Executive Director, Administration, Finance and Corporate Services of NIMASA.[31] He was followed by Temisan Omatseye, a maritime lawyer.[28]

Late in 2010 the Minister of Transport, Yusuf Sulaiman, conducted an audit into the agency. Charges of misappropriation and corruption were laid against the Director General of the agency, Temisanren Omatseye.[32] On 24 November 2010 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arrested Omatseye.[33] Mohammed Kabiru Shehu, Director of Procurement and Jarma Bulama, Director of Finance were suspended from office, but were recalled in June 2011.CITEREFIwori_10_June_2011 As of June 2011 the Chairman of the board was Alhaji Adamu Mu'Azu, and the Director General and Chief Executive Officer was Zaikede Patrick Akpobolokemi.[2] Akpobolokemi had been appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan on 22 December 2010.[34] He was a lecturer at Niger Delta University before being appointed to succeed Omatseye.CITEREFIwori_10_June_2011


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