Federal government yesterday threatened to scrap the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, going by the alleged massive fraud in the agency, even as it also disclosed plans to stop the new university by the agency.
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, who spoke when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Marine Transport headed by Senator Ahmed Rufaia Sani, stressed the need for NIMASA management to justify the judicious utilisation of the huge resources at its disposal.
According to the minister, NIMASA had nothing to show for the N63billion revenue it generated last year and even cited an instance where he discovered that there was no equipment at the agency’s search and rescue unit meant to monitor movement of vessels and provide treatment for injured personnel.
He said: “Currently, the way NIMASA is, if you look at it very well, it was worse in the last administration. It was as if it was established just for the purpose of collecting money and nothing more. What we need to do is to ensure that NIMASA discharges its core responsibilities.
“If NIMASA failed to outsource its core responsibility then it has no business existing. If it is just to collect money from individuals, anybody can do that. We can hire a tax collector to collect money from maritime operators on behalf of Federal Ministry of transport.
“So, it is either NIMASA sit up and carry out its own responsibility or we come to the National Assembly to repeal the Act setting it up and allow the Department of marine security in the ministry of transportation, discharge the responsibility currently being discharged by NIMASA.
“We are not going ahead with the university project proposed by NIMASA because we have an institution in Oron; we have Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria, and we have the Nigerian College of Aviation in Zaria which we could upgrade to a university status and NIMASA is proposing to build a new one.
“Who will attend the university? How many parents will allow their children to go to such place where it proposes to site the university? What is the aim of the university that we cannot achieve in Oron where they have all the necessary infrastructure.
“I don’t think we are proceeding with the university being proposed by NIMASA because it is a waste of resources and unfortunately, a lot of money had already been released for the university project yet there is no structure on ground but just the feasibility study.
“Whoever that is holding on to the money should better return it. The Chinese company contracted confirmed that only the feasibility study was in place.”
On the need by the federal government to encourage individuals to buy vessels, Amaechi said the experience in the aviation industry was that such idea was brought up and about N300billion was released to encourage investors in the sector by the last administration, alleging that “some people collected the money and ran out of the country.
“In fact there is a particular man who collected N32billion and left the country. I don’t think that the federal government needed to release N52billion to investors in the maritime industry what we are considering is to facilitate a partnership arrangement between the operators and foreign investors in which case we can support Nigerians who had shown serious interest in the business with about 40 percent of the investment while their foreign partners bring 60 percent. That will assure us that we would recoup our investment.
“One of those who collected the aviation bailout who has done nothing with the money is working freely on the streets of Nigeria, his airline is dead and he did not even deem it fit to inform the ministry.
“I am protecting the maritime funds and we could only disburse it after we have seen the president, the foreign investors who will partner with the Nigerian investors that meet our guidelines. We have the N52billion in the TSA account of NIMASA.”
He also explained that an arrangement had now been put in place to ensure that the dollar revenue accruable to NIMASA were paid directly to the federation account in order to boost FOREX for the country.