Former president of the Nigerian Trawlers Owners Association NITOA, Mrs. Margret Oraekwusi has warned that the clamour in some quarters for the creation of another maritime security agency would be counter- productive to the nation’s quest for developing and harnessing her blue economic potential.

Oraekwusi, who made this observation while presenting the lead paper entitled: “National Maritime Strategy and National Maritime Policy Framework: How Far is the Road Yet” at the recently concluded African Day of the Seas and Oceans in Lagos with the theme: Partnership, key to Sustainable Blue World, was obviously referring to the Maritime Security Agency MASECA Bill currently at the National Assembly, which seeks to create another maritime security agency.

She noted that Nigeria at this point of her economic history needed to take concrete steps towards developing her richly endowed but yet untapped blue economic potential by keying into the African Integrated Maritime Strategy AIMS 2015 through improving her maritime governance.

According to her, there is absolutely no need to create new agencies, rather what the country needs now it to support and equip the existing one, which would go a long way in enhancing and sustaining good maritime administration and governance in the country.

Oraekwusi said: “Nigeria needs a strong and virile maritime industry to achieve a sustainable economic growth and development. This is given that though oil and gas account for over 80 per cent of the country’s revenue but over 90 per cent of her import and exports including oil and gas products are carried out through seaborne trade.

“She therefore needs to develop an all- inclusive policy framework and strategy in line with the African Union AIMS 2015 for her to fully tap the abundant maritime resources and must therefore wake up from her current seeming slumber and develop all the segments of the industry”.

In concrete terms, Oraekwusi, who is a legal practitioner, noted that the maritime industry in Nigeria is largely dominated by foreign operators, a development that impedes its growth and development and therefore called for the growing of national fleet to increase indigenous participation in the industry.

She also made a strong case for an urgent upgrading of maritime infrastructure such as roads, automation of port processes, which will in effect enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of the seaports and by so doing attract more investments.

Recall that the 22nd Ordinary Session of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union AU had in 2015 adopted the Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy, also called AIMS 2050, which in turn recommended the establishment of an Africa Day of Seas and Oceans slated for July 25th of every year. This is in recognition of the fact that Africa’s seas and oceans represent major assets to accelerate the development of the continent’s economies.

Part of the objectives of the theme of the event organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, was to raise awareness of the campaign for better waste management on land to aid the recovery of Nigeria’s seas and oceans, to popularise the strategic importance of National Maritime Strategy, to reopen the discourse on the National Maritime Transport Policy for sustainable development and to understand the agency’s roles beyond annual celebrations and partnership strategies to ensure sustainable implementation of resolutions. Another objective includes developing a roadmap for building a sustainable interest and passion for the maritime industry in our young people, among several others.

Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, who restated the agency’s commitment towards the development of Nigeria’s blue economy, however said that partnership remained a crucial element to the effective development and utilisation of Africa’s maritime resources.

Peterside, who is the chairman of Association of African Maritime Administrations AAMA, also noted that there was need for countries in the African continent to collaborate, in order to realise a common goal, geared towards the actualisation of the continent’s Blue Economy.