History of NIMASA, Its Core Functions and Departments

Last updated on November 1st, 2023 at 08:49 am


NIMASA stands for Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, a government agency that is in charge of regulating shipping, maritime labour and coastal waters in Nigeria.

It is one of the most important agencies domiciled in the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy. The agency was formerly under the Federal Ministry of Transportation until the creation of the new ministry by President Bola Tinubu.

Its History

The military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida established the National Maritime Authority (NMA), through the Shipping Policy Decree of May 11, 1987. The first DG of NMA was Bassey U. Ekong.


Then came onboard the Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC) in 2003. But the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in a move to restructure the maritime sector to be result-driven merged the National Maritime Authority (NMA) and Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC), which birthed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency on August 1, 2006.

Barrister Mfon Usoro was appointed as the pioneer DG of NIMASA in August 2006 by Chief Obasanjo and to date the first and only woman to have headed the ‘controversial’ agency.

Therefore, NIMASA derives its legal power and functions from three Acts:

  1. Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003
  2. Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act, 2007
  3. Merchant Shipping Act, 2007
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The Act establishing NIMASA states that 5 per cent of annual income would be allocated for supporting the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) while the development of maritime infrastructure would get 35 per cent.

Functions of NIMASA

Following the merger of NMA and JOMALIC, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety now has a broader role in the maritime sector. NIMASA mandates include:

1) Its core mandate is to primarily administer Maritime Safety Seafarers Standards and Security.

2) To implement shipping regulation as specified in the Act establishing it.

3) To undertake inspections and provide search and rescue services.

4) To implement International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions.

5) NIMASA also has it as a mandate to implement a domesticated International Maritime Organization (IMO).

6) To promote Commercial Shipping and Cabotage activities,

7) To monitor and prevent maritime pollution and spillage in Nigerian waterways.

8) To implement Maritime Labour in line with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the maritime sector.

9) To regulate and administer certificates to seafarers.

10) To undertake development, protection and manpower training in the shipping industry

11) To administer, issue, and regulate shipping licenses.

12) To adequately regulate shipping-related businesses, especially in the area of merchant shipping and seafarers.

13) To organize Maritime training and ensure maritime safety standards in Nigeria are met in accordance with global standard in line with IMO.

14) To provide cabotage services

15) To specify requirements for the issuance of cabotage waiver.

16) To collect, screen, verify, and register applications for ship registration.

17) To register and renew application for shipping company and shipping agent licence.

18) To provide array of services in the maritime sector, including navigation system, hydrographic services, survey and inspection, port state control, and flag state control among others.

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Structure in Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency

The highest decision-making body of the agency is the Governing Board while the Managing Director/Director General of NIMASA manages the day-to-day administration of the agency.

The MD is assisted by three Executive Directors:

  1. Executive Director of Operations
  2. Executive Director of Finance and Administration
  3. Executive Director of Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services

Each of the executive directors has different departments under their supervision and coordination for the agency to deliver on its mandate. While the heads of the departments report to their EDs, who relay such to the DG, some heads of departments report directly to the Director-General.

Governing Board:

The governing board of NIMASA is made of:

  • Chairman,
  • DG of the agency,
  • Executive Director (Cabotage),
  • Executive Director (Admin & Finance),
  • Executive Director (Operations), and
  • Three other three persons, who are appointed by the President.


Here is a full list of departments under NIMASA:

  • Cabotage services department
  • Maritime labour services
  • Administration and human resources
  • Financial services
  • PR/Corporate Communication
  • Legal services department
  • Planning, research and data management services
  • Maritime safety and seafarers’ standard department
  • Shipping development department
  • Marine environment management
  • Procurement department

Other important units in the agency are:

  • Health and safety environment
  • ISPS unit
  • Internal audit unit
  • Nigerian Ship Registration Office
  • Protocol unit
  • Marine Accident Investigation unit
  • Servicom unit
  • Special duties
  • Maritime Guard Command
  • Deep Blue project unit
  • Public-Private Partnership


With its head office located in Apapa Lagos, NIMASA has three zones:

  1. Central zone: Warri and Sapele, Delta State
  2. Western zone (Lagos)
  3. Eastern zone: Onne, Calabar, Yenagoa, Eket, Bonny, and Oron.
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It also has offices in Abuja, and the United Kingdom.

Who is the first DG of the National Maritime Authority (NMA)?

Bassey U. Ekong is the first NMA DG. He was appointed by IBB.

Who was the first DG when NMA became NIMASA?

Barrister Mfon Usoro was the first DG when NMA became NIMASA in 2006.

Which ministry controls NIMASA?

The Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy. It was formerly under the Ministry of Transportation.

How many departments are in NIMASA?

NIMASA has 11 departments and 11 units.

What are the powers of NIMASA?

The agency derives its power from the 2003 Cabotage Act, the 2007 NIMASA Act, and the 2007 Merchant Shipping Act.

Where is the headquarters of NIMASA in Nigeria?

NIMASA Head Headquarters is located at Victoria Island, Lagos. It was commissioned in November 2022.

What are the authentic social media handles of NIMASA?

@nimasaofficial is the official social media handle of the agency on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and @@nimasaofficial2745 on YouTube

Is NIMASA recruiting now?

At the time of this report, the agency isn’t recruiting. Besides, most of its recruitment is allegedly done in secrecy, according to SaharaReporters in its report.


  1. Gazettes Africa: “Shipping Policy Decree of May 11, 1987”. Retrieved September 3, 2023
  2. ILO.ORG: “Nigerian Maritime Labour Act, 2003”. Retrieved September 3, 2023

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