Reviewer: Suleiman Haruna Adana
Book: Harnessing Nigeria’s
Maritime Assets: ast, Present and Future
August 28, 2022 marks the fourth anniversary of the launch of the classic book, Harnessing Nigeria’s Maritime Assets: Past, Present and Future written by Dr Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the apex maritime regulatory and promotional agency in Nigeria.
As a maritime researcher and scholar, my interests are unsurprisingly quickened at the prospects of reviewing texts and literature related to my field. Moreover, the author of this work happens to be a former colleague at the NIMASA and a friend of mine, who personally autographed my copy of the book. Additionally, the author also featured me in the book via a picture we took together at an international maritime event that took place in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.
But besides all these, this review becomes particularly essential, seeing that this book was written and launched while the author was the executive director, Finance and Administration of the NIMASA.
By providence, fated or divine, and dint of hard work, Dr Jamoh now heads the NIMASA as its 16th director-general and is in the prime position to make strategic decisions aimed at the overall mission achievement of the agency.
Written from the point of view of a well-informed insider looking in, the text has been widely acknowledged and reviewed as one that takes the reader on a Nigerian maritime historical excursion, as it were, from the slave trade era, through the colonial years, and anchoring in contemporary realities.
The book, in its flow, provides valuable insights necessary for the achievement of optimum efficiency level of the agency in its core mandate of maritime administration and safety, even spilling into other sectors like agriculture, metallurgy, tourism, the blue economy and marine plastic waste technology for the overall benefit of Nigeria’s economy.
Four years after the launch of this book, and the third year into his first tenure as the director-general of the NIMASA, this review now serves as an assessment, in a manner of speaking, of the extent to which the views and recommendations put forth by the author in the book have influenced policy and the positive impact on the Nigerian maritime sector and the economy as a whole.
Chapter one of the book starts with an introduction emphasizing the role and importance of maritime transportation as a critical enabler of international trade and with its low-cost attribute.
The six remaining chapters of the book highlight key historical facts that led to the establishment of the modern port system in Nigeria, and the identification of Nigeria’s maritime assets.
The book also brings to fore, the institutional and regulatory framework to ensure good corporate governance, maritime safety, security and surveillance.
Challenges in the Nigerian maritime sector are not only well identified, but a future framework is charted within these chapters.
The text ends with analysis-based conclusions and recommendations for policymakers in the industry.
Personally, I believe this book provided Dr Jamoh with a roadmap and vision, with which he is currently driving the maritime industry in Nigeria. Talk of preparedness meeting opportunity! According to Bobby Unser, ‘’Success is rarely a matter of luck. It is more a matter of preparation to put yourself on the path of opportunity.’’
On assumption of office as director-general, he anchored his mission on a tripod of Maritime Security, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, or the Triple “S”- the NIMASA performance tripod, designed as the compass of the administration in charting the course of the agency. Three years into his administration, notable achievements in these three concerns can be articulated.
Under Maritime Security, the Deep Blue Project, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari, is the first integrated maritime security strategy in West and Central Africa, aimed at tackling incidents of piracy, sea robbery and other crimes at sea.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has acknowledged and applauded the overall reduction of piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Gulf of Guinea due to enhanced maritime security and response coordination.
The second leg of the tripod is Maritime Safety, which enjoys a place of pride in the book. It includes ship standards, crew and labour conditions, nautical charts, pollution prevention and control. In this segment, the NIMASA has made significant inroads under the watch of Dr Jamoh, especially in the wreck removal projects, the revival of operational boats, partnerships with key stakeholders and the National Marine Plastic Plan.
The third and final leg of this strategic tripod of the maritime agency, one that is close to the heart of the author, is Shipping Development. This deals with the development of shipping and regulatory matters relating to merchant shipping and seafarers, where a lot has been, and still needs to be done, especially in the participation of indigenous shipping companies in the carriage of crude oil and favourable implementation of the Cabotage Act. In dealing with this third “S”, mention must be made of the disbursement of the CVFF to Nigerian ship owners for possible operational support and re-fleeting.
Among several other reforms introduced by Dr Jamoh and his executive management are the operations of indigenous shipping companies, the commissioning of NIMASA’s Knowledge Centre E-Library, the revitalisation of the Nigerian Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP), preparation of Nigeria for the Blue Economy concept and a host of other positive achievements in the maritime domain.
In conclusion, Dr Jamoh’s Harnessing Nigeria’s Maritime Assets, with credible references and bibliography, is clearly a work of great academic and industrial relevance written by a maritime professional in a powerful, revealing and thought-provoking style. The book will continue to be a reference source of information to the government, the maritime industry, the academia and the general public.
As we sail into the future with optimism, we contemplate a second edition of the book, which will update certain positions with the benefit of experience being gathered as the current helmsman at Nigeria’s premier maritime regulatory and promotional agency, the NIMASA.
Adana is the coordinator, Abuja/northern states, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping.