Stakeholders in Nigeria’s maritime industry have urged the Federal Government to take urgent steps towards developing and harness the rich potential of the country’s Blue Economy to curtail the current over-dependence on crude oil export as only means of foreign exchange. This is given current realities in the global oil market.

In a nine- point communiqué reached at fourth edition of ‘A Day with Nigerian Maritime Students’ with the theme: Beyond Sea Time, which also marked the fifth anniversary of Platforms Communication held in Lagos Monday, the stakeholders observed that currently crude oil export constitutes over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s income, but that it was also more disturbing that buyers of Nigeria’s oil are currently making frantic efforts at developing alternative clean energy sources, a development that might spell doom for the economy if proactive steps were not taken to diversify the economy.

The participants therefore made a strong case for the development and harnessing of the nation’s rich but grossly untapped maritime resources, also called the Blue Economy, which they argued hold more in future for the country far more than oil both in terms of foreign exchange earnings, employment opportunities and general wealth creation.

The stakeholders had also observed that access to sea time training for graduated Nigerian cadets is currently herculean and pathetic and therefore called on the Maritime Administration, which they admitted is has done a lot to intensify efforts at giving more cadets access to sea time training to enhance their global competitiveness.

The stakeholders were also unanimous in their call on Nigerian youths including the cadets to take full advantage of the vast opportunities in the maritime industry in terms of engaging  in entrepreneurships in the areas of freight forwarding, chandelling and bunkering, in order to curb the current rate of crimes and insecurity in the country. The participants therefore urgent government agencies in the maritime industry and other stakeholders should work out better modalities to enable cadets have quality sea-time experience;

Other recommendations include that the nation’s youths should key into the opportunities in the maritime industry instead of engaging in crimes and that Nigerian cadets should develop the important survival skills of character and tolerance when they go on board training vessels;

The stakeholders observed with regrets that more than five years after the domestication of the Maritime Labour Convention MLC, which is in force in over 38 countries, Nigeria has yet to commence its implementation. The participants therefore called on the nation’s Maritime Administration to urgently commence the implementation of the MLC, which seeks better working conditions for seafarers and also create a unit that will be in charge of the welfare of the seafarers.

The participants also observed that there is a pressing need for meaningful dialogue between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC and indigenous ship-owners on the matter of fully integrating Very Large Crude Carriers VLCC manned by Nigerians in the lucrative trade of lifting of the nation’s crude oil, among several other recommendations.

CEO of Platform Communications, Mr. Sylvanus Obasi had in an earlier speech pledged to continue in company’s resolve to champion the protection of the interest of Nigerian cadets and seafarers, thanking stakeholders that have supported it in the last five years to do just that.

A highpoint of the event was the presentation of awards to deserving corporate bodies and individuals, including the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA for its support and encouragement, among several others.