BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Again, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Jamoh, has appealed to the maritime international community to reconsider the application of war insurance premium imposed on the country for ships calling her ports.
Jamoh who made the call Friday at the Eko Hotels and Suites Lagos during a media conference noted that such action is not only drastic and unfair, but is capable of sending misleading signals that Nigeria is at war.
The DG NIMASA faulted the Lloyd’s List Intelligence report on Nigeria supporting the war insurance premium, the review of which he earlier called for, citing significant improvement in maritime insecurity in Nigeria and within the Gulf of Guinea (GOG). The Lloyd’s List Intelligence is a specialist business information service dedicated to the global maritime community.
Jamoh lamented that the war insurance premium will not only impact negatively on maritime businesses through rising costs, but in its spiral effect, impose further hardship on innocent Nigerians especially the poor bracket which constitutes the masses.
The NIMASA helmsman also disclosed that his agency has stepped in to take over its responsibility at the Secured Anchorage Area (SAA), since the Federal Government sacked OML hitherto contracted to provide security at the anchorage in February this year.
He said the Deep Blue Project assets is fully functional and has considerably weakened hitherto incessant attacks on cargo ships within the Nigerian territorial waters and beyond.
“Most of the items came in towards the end of last year and we have been utilizing the items from time to time, especially when Mr. President announced the closure of the SAA. Immediate it was announced in February, we have to deploy fully most of these assets and we took charge of the maximum security of that area.
“Before the deployment, we use to experience an average attack of one person on daily basis. In January, we started operating these items, we recorded one attack. After the deployment in February, we recorded ten attacks within the exclusive economic zone. In February after we fully deployed, zero attack, March one attack, April and May two attacks, June no report yet.”
Jamoh lamented that Nigeria is been punished by the international community for a regional crime which she has no power to control because of sovereign limitations.
“Our situation is being worsened because of the incessant attacks within the GOG, even though the issues that concerns GOG have nothing to do with Nigeria because each member country have a responsibility to protect its territorial waters through the GOG.”
This is even as he noted that Nigeria’s involvement in tackling maritime insecurity in the GOG arises more out concern and her policy to support neighbouring states; in addition to support the international maritime community to combat maritime insecurities.
“The problems we have been experiencing has to do with our own integrity, most a times, if you experience attack, you come to Nigeria even though that attack is outside Nigerian territorial water.
“We owe it a duty to address the issues as well as Nigeria’s foreign policy, when it comes to African countries, we are second to reckon with. So we are now trying to see how we can extend the issue of maritime security beyond the Nigerian exclusive economic zone, and in so doing, we now align with international coordinating centre in Yaoundé to see how we can enhance the implementation of the Yaoundé Accord.
“As of today, Nigeria by that particular agreement, created Shed Gulf of Guinea. The Shed Gulf of Guinea is the kind of shed deployed in the Indian Ocean when they were having this problem and the GOG around Somalia when they were having this problem. Today, it has become history. Nigeria was able to establish that Shed of GOG and is now fully in force and is going to be fully inaugurated.”
He explained that when fully implemented, Nigeria will be on record for her commitment to maritime security and promotion of international shipping; and urged the international community to rescind the imposition of the contentious war risk insurance premium.
“This particular issue has brought about a lot of commendation from the international community as well as international maritime organization. Today we are been celebrated everywhere, we are trying to reduce the stigma given to Nigeria as well as change the narrative about Nigeria being the most dangerous waters in the world trade.
“Since we have invested much, since we have shown a lot of commitment in terms of addressing maritime insecurity, the international community should rethink the issue of charging Nigeria war risk insurance premium. We started this campaign the day Mr. President came to inaugurate these assets.
“Earlier today, l read the submission made by Lloyd’s that even though they recognize the commitment of Nigeria, they appreciate the progress made so far, but that they will continue to charge war insurance premium because they have to see more commitment by the Nigerian government.
“The implication of this statement shows that the international community is listening to what we are saying and are now responding, and we will continue to respond to them. One, is Nigeria at war? If you define the issue of piracy and you restrict the issue of this piracy and other crimes within the GOG, you will come to realize that Nigeria cannot take the entire blame.
“So, if you are defining the basis of war risks insurance premium on Nigerian bond ships, then you have to rethink. Secondly, they say they want to see more commitment, we agree, but we are benchmarked? They say they appreciate our commitment; they appreciate the progress made so far, so go back to the benchmark and see which item and which item you can tick.
“Tick it, we agree, and then reduce the insurance premium so that Nigeria will not continue to suffer undue penalty. “The poor masses of this country should not be made to pay for the actions of few individuals or actions outside our territorial control”, he said.