The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, has once again drawn attention to the inherent danger posed by the overwhelming foreign domination of the nation’s deep sea shipping and oil and gas industries, saying that only five per cent of the $5billion annual freight earnings is retained in the country.

He also frowned at a situation where foreigners also dominate the domestic shipping market, accounting for the $3billion estimated annual marine related spending in the oil and gas production activities.

This development, which is an indication of extreme capital flight, implies that foreign operators in the shipping and oil and gas industries take away over 95 per cent of the $5billion generated through the shipment of petroleum products and other imports while only paltry five per cent is retained in the country.

Director-General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who raised this alarm in Lagos at a one day sensitiation seminar on Local Content Development in Shipping, Oil and Gas Logistics Operations in Nigeria organised by the Maritime Association of Nigeria MARAN, spoke while delivering a paper entitled: “The Role of Shipping in Oil and Gas Logistics Services”.

According to him, though the oil and gas sector of the Nigeria’s economy accounts for over 90 per centof the foreign exchange earnings for the country, it contributes less than 20 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product GDP, and less than five per cent of total employment generation in the country, a development, he described as a misnomer.

The DG, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Shipping Development unit of the agency, Mrs. Anne Ankpa said: “Industry statistics show that Nigeria generates an estimated annual cargo throughput of 150 million metric tonnes with freight earnings in excess of $5billion in her international trade transactions. Over 95 per cent of this income is earned by foreigners, this is in addition to the job deprivation of citizens that comes with it.

“The same dominance by foreigners is also extended to the domestic shipping market, where the estimated $3billion annual marine related spending in the oil and gas production activities is earned virtually by these same foreign operators.

“This is a situation of so much activity and so much money, but little impact on the lives of Nigerians, which accounts for the high level of frustration and restiveness in the country especially in the oil rich Niger Delta region. With this in mind, the Federal Government of Nigeria came up with the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act, 2003 in the maritime industry and the Nigerian Content Act 2010 in the oil and gas sector to tackle these challenges”.

He argued that the situation in the maritime industry was not different from that of the oil and gas sector, saying that Nigeria which ranks as world’s 7th largest exporter of crude oil also remains the only oil producing country that does not lift a drop of such product due to lack of capacity.

He however observed that the Cabotage Act, which he described primarily as an economic interventionist policy by the government, said that the law was designed to be a catalyst to drive the development of the indigenous maritime industry capacity, as it provides that all Cabotage trade vessels in Nigeria must be built in Nigeria, owned and manned by Nigerians as well as registered in the country albeit with waiver provisions.

“However, due to the fact that the indigenous capacities are currently not adequate, the concept of waivers was introduced to allow for a gradual build-up of indigenous capacities and also to avoid destabilising the smooth running of the nation’s oil and gas sector which is the target market of the Cabotage policy”, the DG also said.