Lagos - Patrick Akpobolokemi, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Monday urged the National Assembly to remove the agency from the Civil Service structure.
Akpobolokemi made the call while receiving members of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport on oversight visit to the agency in Lagos.
He spoke on the extent he had implemented the 2012 budget of the agency, saying that removing the agency from the civil service structure "will help NIMASA to carry out its work faster’’.
The NIMASA boss told the senators that only 7% of the capital expenditures of 2012 budget had been expended, saying that this was caused by bureaucracy in government.
"Because we have to follow due process, it takes time for one file to move from one table to the other. So it took time for the government to approve the contractors who would carry out the projects,’’ he said
He said that the agency had made significant progress in the fight against pirates and oil thieves, stressing that many arrests had been made.
Akpobolokemi, however, said that the agency had yet to see anyone being prosecuted.
"It was sad to note that the synergy that ought to have existed between government agencies and NIMASA was weak.
"You find out that when an arrest is made, few days later, the pirates and sea robbers are released, and they come back and recruit more people,’’ he said.
Akpobolokemi, urged the committee to help to ensure that all those caught should be prosecuted no matter how highly placed as it would serve as deterrent to others.
He told the senators that the agency had recruited more staff to overcome the manpower challenges facing the agency.
"The Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) is very much on course and several youths have been sent out of the country for training,’’ Akpobolokemi said.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Zynab Kure, said that they were in Lagos based on their statutory responsibility to carry out oversight function on the agency.
"This is not the first time we are having a meeting with the agency, all in the effort to move the agency forward.
He told the director general to furnish the committee with the number of people recruited, adding that "there is still room for improvement in the implementation of the agency’s budget’’.