Stakeholders insist on national maritime policy to ensure support for Nigeria’s socio-economic progress

Oluchi Chibuzor

Nigerian maritime sector stakeholders advocated for a national maritime policy to ensure the sector’s support for the socio-economic progress of the country given the instability of the world oil price.

Stakeholders, who stated at Nigeria’s International Maritime Summit in 2021, said such a policy would help Nigeria harness its maritime potential.

According to them, this policy would create and establish thematic areas for which the maritime sector will thrive and put the country on the path to becoming a maritime hub in Africa, while providing legitimate freedom to achieve long-term and short-term goals. . for the sector.

Speaking at the summit, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Security Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, reiterated the need for the nation to maintain the current level of safety in the waters coastal areas of the country, suggesting that the federal government has granted physical incentives to the sector.

He said that considering the latest report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) for the second quarter of 2021, the level of piracy in Nigeria has dropped significantly, noting that security is paramount in harnessing the potential generated by the sector for the good. -be general of the nation.
“We have 9 months of good report, the way forward is to maintain these records. To do this, we need effective collaboration with other stakeholders, in particular the Nigerian Navy. We have to interface with the Ministry of Defense and we are trying to achieve that; we cannot do it without the Minister of Transport. In dealing with security issues, you need to consider what other issues are involved. No maritime industry can develop without incentives.

NIMASA, he revealed, is working on two major basic incentives for the maritime sector, stressing that “no nation can develop today without the maritime sector, where 90 percent of the world’s goods are transported by sea. maritime”.

On what the agency needs to do to get all serving ministers on board to foster synergy towards national maritime policy, he revealed he was supposed to be part of a postponed ministerial retreat, where he will interface with them on the matter.
“On the 10th of this month, all ministers will be in Asokoro to meet other CEOs like me to make sure we present all the advice we are providing to get their support to move the sector forward,” he said. he declares.

He said the nation must tap into the industry which is globally worth $ 14 trillion per year, $ 38 billion per day and $ 1.5 million per hour, wondering why the national transportation policy has failed. not been approved.

Commenting, NIMS 2021 President Mfon Usoro said the summit is focusing the attention of policymakers, regulators and industry operators on a critical segment that some see as the bedrock of economic growth, the centerpiece of the trade, security and even livelihoods.

“It is so regrettable that no African nation has emerged as a maritime superpower; they’re not on the top 20 maritime nations list. We don’t even aspire to be one of those maritime nations. We need to tackle national and external obstacles, we need transport policy, ”she said.

For her part, the chair of the House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Chuba-Ikpeazu, said the maritime sector is essential to the development of any nation.

She noted that while Nigeria is blessed with a young demographic of human capital and a coastline of nearly 900 kilometers, rich in biodiversity, it still struggles to be a maritime nation.

Chuba-Ikpeazu also said that Nigeria’s maritime sector, with its untapped potential, is capable of driving sustainable economic growth if the right actions are taken and implemented.

She acknowledged, however, that the National Assembly was already paying attention to strengthening the maritime sector by repurchasing legislation on cabotage and maritime transport, among others, while working with the Federal Ministry of Transport and NIMASA to update the intent of these. legislation.

“We will engage stakeholders for their contributions to ensure that these legislative initiatives begin to reflect the expectations and realities of the industry,” said Chuba-Ikpeazu.

Speaking at the summit, the Acting Director General of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, said there was an urgent need to convert the benefits of Nigeria’s maritime endowment into action.

According to him, Nigeria must be the hub of maritime logistics for sustainable port services in Africa.

He said the competitiveness of the country’s ports depends on how the country deploys its strengths not only to serve its markets, but also to meet the needs of the region, especially with the landlocked countries with which the country shares its borders.
African Union (AU) Transport Commissioner Amani Abou-Zeid, in her keynote address, said African countries must continue to fully implement AfCTA despite global trade being brought into play. danger by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While for the former commissioner and director general of the Maritime Authority of Liberia, Binyah Kesselly, during a roundtable, said that African countries must prioritize the economic base and legal reforms to stop the exploitation of its huge fisheries by Western countries.
Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Executive Secretary Emmanuel Jime said the summit comes at a time when the National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade is mobilizing different sectors of the country’s economy with a view to articulate an implementation strategy for Nigeria’s participation in the continental free trade agreement.

He agreed that bringing together industry professionals and industry stakeholders to discuss and generate ideas would improve maritime commerce and also create a logistics platform to drive the initiative is timely.

“Trade has been a factor in the economic, social and political integration of Africa and its countries for many decades, adding that AfCTA, if well implemented, would boost economic growth and prosperity, help reduce poverty, stimulate job creation, remove trade barriers, facilitate the movement of Nigeria-made goods, the movement of ships and the creation of investment, ”he said.

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