FG restates commitment to maritime growth, dev. …As Nigeria joins other nations to celebrate world Maritime day
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Federal Government has restated it’s commitment to the growth and development of the nation’s maritime industry, as Nigeria joins the International Maritime Organisation IMO, and other maritime nations to celebrate this year’s World Maritime Day with the theme: “IMO 70, Our Heritage, Better Shipping for Better Future”
Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Boss Mustafa, who chaired the occasion, organised by the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Nigerian Maritime Administration ans Safety Agency NIMASA in Lagos Tuesday, which also marked the 70th anniversary of the creation of the IMO, restated the resolve of the government and its agencies in making the nation’s maritime industry take its pride of place.
While commending the Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi for his efforts and zeal to return Nigeria to its pride of place and to turn the country to a maritime hub for the West and Central Africa, he said that the maritime industry is strategically important as the engine for inclusive sustainable growth and development, which also accounts for government’s commitment towards growth and development of the industry.
The SGF, who was represented at the event by the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, however noted that after 70 years of the global maritime community under the IMO, can Nigeria can be said to have maximised her maritime potential, assuring that the government would continue to insist that the country and her citizens would continue to reap the gains of maritime industry’s positive indices and economic development.
“Efforts are being made to develop the blue economy in order to achieve economic diversification of the country, the IMO instruments are being utilised in bringing about the safety and security within Nigeria’s territorial waters. For me, these are issues that we must confront with fact and figures if Nigeria must retain its relevance and dominance as a regional maritime hub.
“You may wish to know that government’s policy to concession the nation’s ports’ facilities and services to private operators has a profound effect on job creation from warehousing, cargo handling and delivery. It was reported that within six years of port concession, the private operators employed over 48, 000 Nigerians against a little over 14, 000 before the policy shift. These are of course notable achievement that we need to consolidate on further”, the SSG also said.
He however regretted that despite these notable achievements, the maritime industry in Nigeria and across the world has come under siege by criminals, who perpetrate acts of piracy, sea robbery, terrorism, migration and illegal and un-regulated fishing especially in the Gulf of Guinea, thus prompting some shipping companies to reques the government to enter the country with armed security.
He assured that the government is not taking the issue of maritime safety and security lightly, insisting that like the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs, the maritime industry must be protected in order to attract foreign investments and preserve the country’s territorial integrity.
It was in the light of this that a contract was awarded for integrated security and water infrastructure in Nigeria under the deep blue sea project. The project entails the provision of security infrastructure and training of personnel for the protection of Nigeria’s maritime domain.
While commenting on the 2018 edition of the World Maritime Day Celebration, he said: “I am greatly honoured for my invitation to chair this year maritime day. It is an emotional day for me because the maritime industry is my primary constituency and secondly because it was at this event last year that I was called out as the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority NIWA to inform me of my appointment as the SGF”.
Meanwhile, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said that the event provides the platform for the industry to take stocks with a view to positioning itself for future challenges. He disclosed that the new management of the agency under his watch instituted series of reforms and restructuring to ensure that it provides the catalyst for economic growth.
These reforms and restructuring covers survey, environmental protection, safety and security, digital reforms, capacity development, cultural and structural reforms, which helped Nigeria to play leading role in the regional maritime spheres in Africa.
The DG also disclosed that in the last three years, the agency has achieved 80 per cent in the implementation of the International Ships and Ports Security ISPS Code from 13 per cent while the turn -around time for the vessels that call at the nation’s seaports from over three days to 24 hours.
He therefore assured that efforts are on to face the issue of the scourge of piracy and other maritime crimes on the nation’s waters with the new security architecture as well as the expected passage of the Anti-Piracy Bill, which is currently at the National Assembly, adding that when the bill is passed this year, Nigeria will be the first in Africa to have achieved this feat.