The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has appealed to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to return its Cabotage Services Department to Port Harcourt.
Wike made the appeal when the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, visited him in Port Harcourt, recently.
Wike said operations of the Cabotage Services Department of NIMASA used to be in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, but it was relocated to Lagos.
The governor said in spite of his administration’s procurement of gunboats for security agencies, especially the Police and Navy to assist in the fight against piracy and ensure safety on the waterways for NIMASA’s businesses to thrive, the state did not get anything in return.
He commended Jamoh for the initiative aimed at harnessing ocean resources as an alternative revenue source that would end the country depends on oil and gas.
Wike pledged to partner with the agency in human capital development and assured that he would consider adopting the Government Sea School, Isaka as an institution for the training of seafarers.
He also expressed the willingness of the state government to partner with NIMASA on its deep blue project because of its potential to enhance and increase youth capacity in Rivers State, adding that the state government would set up a committee to liaise with NIMASA office in Port Harcourt on the project.
Wike further lamented the failure of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi to leverage his position to revive the Port Harcourt and Onne Ports to generate employment for Rivers youths in the maritime sector.
Speaking, Jamoh said the agency’s new thinking was in paying attention to divesting the country’s economy with its 10-year plan to develop ocean resources in the country.
Jamoh explained that his tour to the eight littoral states, which Rivers is a part, was intended to sell the new thinking to them and the need to key into the initiative.
He urged the Rivers State Government to set up a committee to work with the agency in identifying its areas of comparative advantage to harness its abundant marine resources.
Meanwhile, NIMASA has received Special Mission Aircraft in Lagos, a final phase of the delivery and installation of assets under the Deep Blue Project designed to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
Jamoh received the aircraft, in company with Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, and NIMASA’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr. Chudi Offodile.
Addressing journalists during a brief ceremony to mark the arrival of the aircraft, Jamoh said the assets would further improve security in Nigerian waters.
He revealed a drastic reduction in the rate of attacks in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with the deployment of the Deep Blue Project assets, saying the goal is to eliminate entirely such incidents.
He said: “There has been a drastic decrease in the rate of security breaches in our waters in recent times. This is a clear indication that we are getting it right with the Deep Blue Project.
“The figures we are getting from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) are encouraging. We ultimately aim to completely eradicate security hindrances to shipping and business generally in the Nigerian maritime domain.”