Bayelsa State government has solicited the partnership of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) towards establishing a maritime academy, enhancing security within its maritime domain and developing its deep seaport.
Governor Douye Diri, who disclosed this on Monday during a courtesy visit to the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, in Lagos, said the state had re-opened the process of establishing the academy and recognised the agency as central to actualising the project.
The governor, in a statement by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, noted that Nigeria’s real wealth and that of Bayelsa were in its maritime environment and that his administration was ready to tap into the resources to improve the state’s revenue profile.
Governor Diri stated that with the longest coastline in the country, Bayelsa was rich not only in oil and gas but very much so in maritime resources.
His words: “This is the beginning of an improved relationship between NIMASA and the people of Bayelsa State. We are both bound by a common denominator, which is water. Bayelsa is a wholly riverine state with all its local governments and their headquarters accessible by river and rivulets. Till date, there are three local government headquarters you can only access through water namely Brass, Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor.
“My visit is to further deepen the existing cordial relationship between our state and your agency. A huge part of Nigeria’s coastline is in our state. So we need to join hands together in order to strengthen the maritime domain of our country.
“Let me inform you that the Bayelsa State government is in the process of establishing a maritime academy. The process started before I assumed office and I’m prepared to continue with the process of having a maritime academy.
“I believe that the wealth of this country and that of Bayelsa is in our maritime domain. I therefore invite you to partner with the state government in the establishment of that academy.”
While calling on NIMASA to take advantage of the opportunities in Bayelsa’s maritime environment by establishing a befitting office in the state, he appealed for synergy with the agency in order to combat sea piracy, kidnapping or other criminal activities on the state’s waterways.
“Let me appreciate you for what you have done in terms of support for the Nigerian Navy Falcon Eye technology in securing the maritime environment of Nigeria. May I appeal that you extend that facility to our state. We have issues of kidnapping, piracy and other criminal activities within our waters. Our thinking is that if it is extended to our state, criminality would reduce,” he said.
The governor equally called on the agency to clear wrecks on the waterways in the state as they pose serious threat to vessels and result in accidents, especially at night.
On the building of a deep seaport at Agge, which was commenced by the immediate past administration, the governor said given the economic benefits of a seaport, a strategic partnership with NIMASA was necessary in order to bring it to fruition.
He commended the agency’s seafarer training programme through which the capacity of Niger Delta youths is being enhanced but however solicited the engagement of more youths from Bayelsa in such training because of their maritime environment and interest.
In his response, the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the agency recognised the importance and prominent position of Bayelsa in the country’s maritime industry.
Dr. Jamoh said the journey to convert Nigeria’s aquatic assets to revenue begins with the state because of its strategic place in the country’s maritime environment.
He expressed the agency’s readiness to commence building an office in the state as well as incorporate Bayelsa into the C4-i, which is a technology-based communications platform of the agency in synergy with the Navy, Police and the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Jamoh also promised that working within NIMASA’s mandate, the agency would roll out trainings aimed at engaging and improving the youths in the country, particularly those in Bayelsa and Delta states, through the national seafearers development programme.