The Royal father, Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon has commended the Federal Government for constituting the Board of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), saying that he is confident in the calibre of personalities in the Board to take the industry to greater height.
The Obong, who spoke while receiving the Board of NIMASA in his palace, described the maritime industry as great facilitator of trade and called on the Board to develop a master plan for the advancement of the Nigerian maritime industry.
Edidem Ekpo Okon advised NIMASA to establish a zonal office in Calabar to engender greater maritime activities in the area and to support the development of the Bakassi deep sea port.
He challenged the Federal Government to dredge the Calabar channel which he described as the longest channel linking Nigeria’s coast to the Atlantic Ocean to enable bigger vessels call the Calabar Port.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the NIMASA, General Jonathan India Garba, had commended the Obong for maintaining a peaceful atmosphere in his domain.
The NIMASA Board chairman said that Calabar is an important Port City, adding that the new management at NIMASA will partner other stakeholders to make the Calabar port viable again.
Also speaking, the Director General of the Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside said that Calabar has always played a strategic role in the development of the Nigerian maritime industry and assured the Royal Father that NIMASA will do all that is necessary to restore the Calabar Port to its pride of place.
The members of the Board of NIMASA who were led by General Garba to pay homage on the Royal Father in his palace, are in Calabar for strategic retreat on the repositioning of NIMASA and the Nigerian maritime industry.
The Board members who are in Calabar for a three day strategy retreat had earlier paid a courtesy visit on the Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade.
Meanwhile, Dr. Peterside has said that to achieve the Agency’s vision of becoming the leading maritime administration in Africa advancing Nigeria’s global maritime goals, it is important that there is no disconnect between policy formulation and policy implementation.
Speaking at the opening of a strategy retreat for members of the Board of NIMASA holding in Calabar, Cross River State, Peterside described the Board as the bridge between policy formulation and policy implementation, the NIMASA He is happy that the Board is made up of individuals with proven integrity and a commitment to the service of the nation who will support the re-invention of NIMASA.
“The Governing Board of this Agency as the bridge between policy making and policy implementation is most suited to drive this process of NIMASA and maritime industry self -reinvention. We are privileged that the supervising ministry and the President of our country have absolute confidence in the Board and its ability to help Management achieve the much-desired ‘acceleration’ NIMASA and the industry needs.”
He said that the strategy retreat is aimed at serving as a melting pot of ideas between the Board and the Management of the Agency with the objective of making NIMASA the most efficient, effective and responsive regulatory institution in Nigeria, that contributes in diverse ways to the economic growth of the country.
To achieve this, the Director General said that information flow must be seamless. “We must do all that is necessary to eliminate poor communication flow. Both Board and Management must always have their eyes on the big picture and not allow distractions clothed in short term pecuniary benefits”.
While highlighting the strategic importance of marine transportation to Nigeria’s economy, Dr. Peterside emphasized that marine transportation depends on enforcement of laws, rules, conventions and regulations to guarantee safe, secure and environmentally responsible shipping.
“It is thus our fate that our Agency, NIMASA must be an accelerator rather than a brake, in this economic engine. To this end, the Governing Board of NIMASA, Management of the Agency, industry stakeholders, our partners in the military services, other collaborating Federal Agencies, international regulators, and our supervising ministry (Ministry of Transportation) should work collaboratively to optimize marine transportation and lead the development of indigenous commercial shipping, which is our mandate.”
He commended the resource persons at the retreat who he said will assist members of the Board in understanding more deeply, the industry they have been called to give direction at this time of national economic challenge. [myad]