John Okpono(Merchant Navy)We have agreed in my office not to comment on this MASECA Bill again. But in my own view as an individual, I think maritime security should not be left in the hands of private organisation, let it be handled by the government. When you give out the maritime security of a nation to private security outfits, it means that the country does not have security because private security outfits might compromise, but the government can’t.
Uche Increased (NAGAFF President)First, I want to start commending the current National Assembly that the number of bills they have been able to handle within this short period have outnumbered the ones done from the time of former President Obasanjo till Jonathan’s administration. Not minding the distraction the Senate President is having, look at all the bills they have handled especially in the maritime sector. But the MASSECA bill, we have consultants that have looked into some of these things so any one they dropped should be dropped.
Engr. Alalade Matthew (Merchant Navy)Whether the government should re-introduce the MASECA bill it is in the purview of the government, if the government wants, they can raise it up. I don't think any individual can raise it. What I know is that the security of our waters is in the hands of the Nigerian Navy.
Engr Kayode AkinsojiI know that we have enough security agencies to secure our maritime environment only if they will do their work. It is not all about establishing agency, what matters is ensuring that the ones we have are working. The institutional framework we have is enough to secure our maritime environment. We have the legislation and the agency to perform, but the agency that is supposed to interpret the law is weak. So if you create another agency and they are weak, it will be difficult for them to work. So the legislative framework that is provided for our maritime environment is sufficient.
Engr. Emmanuel Ilori (Nigerian Shipowners Association)We have been on MASECA Bill for far too long, what can MASECA do that we don't have in other existing provisions? The government on one hand is looking at how to streamline the number of government agencies and some people are seeking to create another one, whereas the existing ones need to be made stronger and more effective. We don't have the necessary human resources, or where are we going to get the resources to man another agency when the ones we have still have challenges of efficiency? I think the focus should be on how to get the existing agencies more efficient, they have gained a lot of knowledge, let them be able to utilise it more effectively than creating another agency, there are too many agencies within the sector, it is going to be difficult to maintain them and there would be overlapping of functions.
Mike Igbokwe (Senior Advocate of Nigeria)We have gone through that route before and it is not necessary, what we should be doing is to allow NIMASA as a major agency charged with maritime safety and security to be empowered and given the capacity to implement the provisions under the NIMASA Act and the Merchant Shipping Act, and then enact through the National Assembly, the anti-piracy bill which is to check the menace of piracy, armed robbery at sea, unlawful acts against ships both within our territorial waters and the high seas around us. The previous National Assembly that rejected the bill had good reasons to have rejected it based on the position of the stakeholders at the public hearing. The National Assembly should go back to their archives and bring out reasons the bill was rejected. Most of time, we just waste our resources while we have laws that can take care of all these problems if they are efficiently implemented and monitored.
Prof Charles Ukeje (Dept. Int'nl Relations, OAU)Absolutely, I support that the MASECA Bill should be reintroduced, but we have to make sure that the legislature meets the endorsement of every stakeholder in the sector, and when I say stakeholders I don't mean it in the sense that we Nigerians use it, what I mean is actual and critical stakeholders, we need to have them discuss what the bill means and what would it achieve, but more importantly we have to put our money where our mouth is by investing in the bill and making sure it succeeds.