CABOTAGE: NIMASA pledges support to bring back NISA jobs

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Patrick-Akpobolokem-NIMASA-DG

The “Bring Back Our Jobs” campaign by the Nigeria Indigenous Ship-owners Association (NISA) on Tuesday got a boost, as the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi pledged to assist NISA return the jobs.

The NIMASA boss gave the assurance, when the NISA President, Capt. Dada Olaniyi Labinjo led a delegation of newly elected NISA executive members on a maiden visit to the NIMASA Corporate Headquarters, Apapa Lagos; to stress the need for collaboration, cooperation and synergy of relevant services providers, in the overall interest of the citizens, particularly the un-employed.

“We will work, to see that NISA gets back its jobs”, indicated Akpobolokemi, assuring the delegate that not only would the agency grant the association the required priority attention, but has in fact, begun flying same kite, because of his deep conviction that the only way to reduce crimes, particularly armed robbery, is by creating jobs, which observably was the main focus of NISA.

“Nigerians are getting restive because the jobs which the citizens can do, are still being done by foreigners”, he remarked, highlighting that he already communicated the fact that the implementation of the cabotage law would now be more emphasized, at a meeting he held, earlier in the day with a group he called the ‘OPTS”, said to be an umbrella for operators in the petroleum and gas terrain.

“We told them we  them we need to empower our people, because Nigerians are getting restive, that jobs which Nigerians can do are still being done by foreigners”, stated, adding that a committee had also been formed, to work on the morality for the return of the jobs.

Akpobolokemi however stressed the need for the understanding and total support of NISA, in the task of getting the jobs back, noting that the task would not be easy.

“I do not say it would be easy; but we must all do our best. The laws are there. But our problem is that it is often difficult to fully implement the laws in this country”, he said further, stressing the need not to underrate the kind of challenge the agency would probably confront, in the course of a full implementation of the cabotage regime.

The NIMASA Boss assured the NISA members, that having been involved in the NISA election, he had a moral reason to work for its success, said he would endeavour to carry the members along, so as to ensure that they fully understand if the pace of the journey, could not be as fast as the association would want it;

“Why do we make noise about the Cabotage Act? It is because it is not being implemented 100 percent. The Americans do not talk about the Jones Act because they have crossed that huddle.

“The desire of the Indigenous Ship-owners Association is to create jobs. If the jobs are not created, the armed robbers would increase. There is nothing anybody can do about it.  So, we must work together to achieve this common purpose; because jobs brings multiplier effects on the economy.

He maintained that the agency should not be perceived as “doing anybody any favour” by working in the direction that could bring jobs, because it would only amount to merely striving to contribute their quota, towards creating a better Nigeria, noting that the Government was seriously working towards ensuring an enduring turn around of the economy, in the overall interest of the country, and urged the country, particularly the potential investors, to focus more on the expansion of the Nigeria fleet.

Earlier, the NISA President, Capt Labinjo had told the NIMASA Boss that they were there not only to fraternize, but to explore opportunities to evolve modalities for closer understanding, cooperation and collaboration to “bring back the jobs”, in the overall interest of the citizens.

“We are not vagabonds. We are not ruffians. We are what other people, in other countries call investors. We are a group that any country would be glad to have.

“We are not from Ghana . We are Nigerians, like you”, Labinjo stated, highlighting that the NISA plan was to formulate workable strategies, which would ensure an encompassing participation of all ship-owners, be it in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri or anywhere else was carried along in their twin desire to create jobs and stamp out illegality.

“Just like you, we will permit no illegality. We will cooperate with you, to ensure that no illegality will be allowed”, he posited, even as he noted that if the members were legally engaged, they would not allow anything like illegal bunkering to be perpetuated.

“But we want to take back our jobs. Our jobs have been taken over by foreign operators. How? We want to take back our jobs by encouraging our members to acquire new vessels. We will also discourage the foreigners who have overrun our waters”, he indicated, noting that in the task ahead, there may also be a strong need for the use of the NIMASA satellite tracking technology.

“We can’t trade in Ghana . We can’t trade in Malaysia . And if this is true, then, I should not be struggling with foreigners here, before we can trade.

“It is for this purpose that Nigeria created the Cabotage Act; and further consolidated it by the Nigerian Local Content Act”, he stated further, noting that the association was aware that on November 5th, 2014, Brazil enacted a new law, which in addition to their cabotage law, also foreclose waiver options.

Capt. Labinjo stressed the need for NISA to have input in the operation of waiver policy, pleading that when a waiver application was received by the DG, the content should be made available to the NISA, for professional advice, and response within 72 hours; because that is the way it was done in Malaysia , India and elsewhere too.

Those in attendance where members of the new NISA executive, which included the Second Vice President, Aminu; the General Secretary, Tunji Brown; Treasurer, Peter Olorunfemi; Financial Secretary, Dele Lamisa, Otunba Shola Onaoji, Mr. Peter Ashinwo and Associate Member, Akin Olaniyan.

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