Ochei, NIMASA and a New Path to Progress

The appointment of Rt. Honorable Victor Ochei to the board of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as the Executive Director in charge of Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services came at a very appropriate time.

His appointment coincided with the expiration of the tenure Dakuku Peterside as Director General and CEO of the agency, as was inaugurated in March 2016. The decision to appoint Hon. Ochei to the board of NIMASA by the Buhari administration followed a series of calls to reposition the agency for optimal performance.

That call also came with a desire to inject into the board of the agency persons who are well exposed and deeply passionate about maritime issues and who possessed the administrative and policy experience to provide a kind of leadership that will enable the NIMASA muster sufficient impetus necessary to grow the Nigerian economy through creating the needed growth in the sector.

Hon. Ochei who was the speaker of the fifth House of Assembly of Delta State in 2011, at age 42, is widely acknowledged as having a deep knowledge of engineering, financial management, corporate governance, administration, and the law, even as he is also an experienced Grassroots politician with a depth of experience in politics and governance.

With an engineering degree from the University of Benin, Hon. Victor Ochei also attended the Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom where he earned a master’s degree in Corporate Governance and later on proceeded to earn a Bachelor in Law Degree.

He has to his advantage a vast amount of administrative experience both in the public sector and in corporate leadership. He stands tall as one of the few politicians who have been able to bring to bear some of the core principles of private sector corporate governance practices into the public sector.

In line with the overall objectives and scope of both the NIMASA Act 2007 and the Merchant Shipping Act 2007, the mandate which Hon. Ochei and his team are expected to serve as Director of Labour and Cabotage Services, will include, but not limited to, pursuing the development of shipping and regulate matters relating to Merchant Shipping and Seafarers as well as regulating the implementation of Seafarers and Dockworkers employment with quality Safety and Health Standards to guide the provision of Maritime Labour in Nigerian Maritime Zone, International Maritime Labour Market, and ILO Conventions.

Victor Ochei

The mandate also covers the development and implementation of policies and programs which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in manning of ships, enforce and administer the provisions of Maritime Labour under the Cabotage Act 2003 with regards to manning of Cabotage Vessels, establishing the procedure for the implementation of ILO/IMO Conventions, Codes, Circulars, and resolutions, to which Nigeria is a party to.

On Cabotage Services, the Cabotage Act of 2003 is intended to ensure that Nigerian vessels and vessels belonging to Nigerian citizens are given the best possible opportunity and empowered to operate within the Nigerian territorial waters.

The responsibility entrusted on Hon. Ochei as Executive Director for Cabotage Services under that Act involves, but not limited to, ensuring and encouraging indigenous shipping lines to participate in Coastal and Inland Trade Administering Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), enlightening and sensitizing would-be investors in the Cabotage Trade through seminars, conferences, workshops, and other platforms, and also maintaining a Registry of Vessels for Cabotage Trade Registering ships owned by indigenous shipping lines to participate in the Nation`s Cabotage trade.

Hon. Ochei has always demonstrated his passion for genuine service, therefore his appointment to the board of NIMASA is in furtherance and fulfillment of that passion. In his native Delta State, the former Speaker not only led the most progressive House of Assembly of Delta state since the return to democratic rule in 1999, but his leadership saw some landmark legislation and policy instruments that brought about impactful development.

Hon. Ochei has always been available to provide leadership at the Grassroots level and within the political party space. He has been on the ticket for senatorial election and the governorship election in Delta State in a quest to galvanize all the progressive and intellectually gifted citizens of the State for purposeful development.

As a consummate engineer and lawyer by training, also, Ochei brings on board NIMASA exceptional competence and drive that will see Nigeria become one of the most advanced maritime nations in the world, recovering lost opportunities and finding a new path to progress for the benefit of not just the country but the entire continent of Africa.

There is much hope that with Ochei, working with Dr. Bashir Jamoh as the Director-General (DG) alongside other board members, NIMASA has sown good seed, on a safe sail, and the nation on a new path to reaping great rewards from the maritime sector.

Victor Ikem is a public policy analyst and communication consultant who writes from Lagos.