– The Sun News

NIMASA, lawmakers in open confrontation over poor budget performance

 Isaac Anumihe

 

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency  (NIMASA) and the House of Representatives  Committee on Maritime Education, Safety and Administration, yesterday, engaged themselves in open confrontation  over the performance of the 2017 appropriation budget of the agency.

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Education Safety and Administration who were  on oversight function to the agency,  were displeased with the budget performance of the agency and so threatened a zero allocation to NIMASA in 2018, if the agency’s 2017 budget was not fully expended.

The remark resulted in open confrontation between the agency and the lawmakers as each one tried to justify its position on the matter.

Chairman of the committee,  Muhammed Umar Bago, who threw the first salvo described the situation as a shame wondering how money allocated to the agency would not be spent due to bureaucratic bottleneck.

“It’s a shame if we give them (NIMASA) money to spend on appropriation and because of bureaucratic bottleneck, they are unable to spend it. So, they shouldn’t expect us to give them money next time and we have pledged as a committee and as a parliament that anyone we give resources to spend and he  did not, we will only give in the next appropriation the percentage of what it spent in the previous year and I have threatened NIMASA that I will give them zero allocation in 2018 if they don’t spend money allocated for 2017,” he said.

But in a swift reaction, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, disagreed with the committee chairman, saying that the agency has expended 80 per cent of its allocation on capital projects.

“I think we didn’t quite get the chairman. We have made over 80 per cent accomplishment of the capital budget provision. Although we have challenges in a few because we have to go through the regimented procurement process but I believe we should be able to get to 100 per cent. But if we can’t get to 100 per cent, with 80 per cent accomplishment we have done our best,” he said, countering the committee chairman’s earlier assertion.

Also speaking on the chairman’s complaint on the nation’s porous exclusive economic zone and trading by foreign vessels, the DG stated that initiatives have been deployed to enhance security of the nation’s territorial waters including the EEZ.

“He said we should step up coastal security and recall that a lot of initiatives have been put in place and one of them is the one approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) called the presidential maritime security intervention where we are supposed to acquire a lot of assets and worked with the Nigerian Navy and Airforce to enhance the patrol of our waterways.

“The project is on course and once we commence full implementation, it will yield the desired result. We are pursuing early passage of the anti-piracy bill that will criminalise maritime crimes. We have also invested in maritime intelligence gathering in our maritime surveillance gathering and we are close in integrating the satellite surveillance system in the Navy Falcon I.

“We have improved on intelligence gathering.  We have improved enforcement and working closely with the Navy and renewed our MoU with the Airforce. He suggested that we should engage more platform and we are doing that. We have done tremendous improvements  in coastal security. We have taken note of the suggestions and we will continue to invest our time and talent in improving coastal patrol.

“On the first issue of the coastal security, we found out that when you have the satellite image of the Nigerian exclusive economic zones, you have a lot of vessels or ships doing businesses but when you come to NIMASA or the Federal Ministry of Transportation records, they say they don’t  give waivers and we are surprised that when they are not giving waivers, what are they doing on our waters and if they are  illegally doing business on our waters we should step up and arrest them and that is the primary function of NIMASA. They must step up in its coastal security and guards. They should provide platforms to pursue these criminals out of our waters,” he explained.

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