About four years after it was withdrawn from the Senate under suspicious circumstances, the controversial Maritime Security Agency (MASECA) Bill is on its way back.
The desire to revisit the bill is one of the main issues on the agenda of the in-coming administration to curb the excessive damage being done to the nation’s economy through oil theft, piracy and other maritime crimes.
The Bill was withdrawn in May 2011 by President President Goodluck Jonathan, a day before its fourth and final reading and expected passage by the Senate. It had already being passed by the House of Representatives.
Our correspondent confirmed from insider -sources that already a position paper for the scrapping of the maritime security contract that was awarded to Messrs Global West Vessel Specialist has been submitted and accepted by the in-coming government.
It was also confirmed that a justification for the creation of MASECA has been submitted simultaneously.
A source who is privy to the move said categorically that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is determined to put a stop to what he called, “the plundering of the nation’s resources by a cohort, and the reckless oil theft”.
A copy of the position paper on the MASECA , was sighted by one of our correspondents last week.
Raising alarm over the stillbirth of MASECA, position paper said: “The Bill had been passed by the House of Representatives and had actually gone through the 1st and 2nd Reading, awaiting concurrent passage at the Senate, before the unthinkable happened”.
The paper traced the origin of MASECA to the interventionist body called Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS).
According to the paper, “While, PICOMSS was advancing in the execution of its mandate and awaiting the final passage of the MASECA Bill at the Senate, the Bill was withdrawn, and that gave rise to the emergence of a private security outfit; Messrs Global West Vessels Specialist, which took over all that PICOMSS represented. The ownership of the unknown ‘maritime security outfit’ is already public knowledge.
The firm was awarded a contract of US$103.4million for the provision of security on Nigerian waters and pipeline surveillance to provide none-existing platform”.
In addition, the firm also receives N47.5 Million monthly form the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency for policing of Lagos waters.
Lamenting that the engagement of the private firm only elicited further plundering, it said “Despite the award of contract to these questionable firms/individuals, the nation has witnessed unbridled increase in piracy, sea robbery, oil theft and pipeline vandalism”.
‘While sea piracy has placed Nigeria number one on the International Maritime Bureau scale of piracy-prone waters, oil theft and pipeline vandalism is eroding the nation’s earnings from crude oil”.
“Virtually all the International Oil Companies (IOCs) have cried out over their dwindling fortunes, while others have even gone ahead to declare Force Majeure”.
The MASECA Bill hopes to confine NIMASA to maritime safety issues (such as: Flag and Port State Administration), in addition to Cabotage, Maritime Labour, Shipping Development).If and when it is reintroduced, it will be subjected to fresh debates at the two chambers.
The MASECA Bill seeks to establish a Maritime Security Agency which shall be charged with the responsibility of providing security and safety facilities for all participants in the Nigerian maritime industry and associated industry.