Guard your democracy jealously, Peterside tells Africa …Preaches peaceful coexistence as Nigerians celebrate Sallah
*Dr. Dakuku Peterside
BY FRANCIS EZEM
Chairman of Association of African Maritime Administrations AAMA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside has said that the development and sustenance of democratic governance in the African continent lies within Africans themselves and therefore charged them to take their destinies into their own hands in terms of striving to ensure that civil rule thrives in the continent.
Peterside, who doubles as the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, insisted that Nigerians and indeed the entire African continent must squarely face the arduous task of jealously guarding the fledgling democratic rule which is gradually taking roots in the continent. This development, he argued, will help catalyse economic growth and development in the continent and by extension the maritime industry.
He spoke in Lagos during a breakfast meeting with some journalists in Lagos as part of activities to mark the Eid-El-Kabir celebrations.
He said: “AAMA under my leadership has prioritised the projection of the African continent as a block that deserves a larger share of global maritime trade based on its contributions to the growth and development of the trade.
“Regrettably, some African countries still operate along colonial inclination and that tends to slow down development particularly in the maritime industry. In those countries where democracy is fully thriving such as Nigeria, stakeholders in the maritime sector now speak with the voice of development, independent of colonial masters. AAMA, under my watch has been able to give African maritime sector a new voice, particularly at the International Maritime Organisation, IMO”.
While commenting on how the agency emerged as one of the leading parastatals of the Federal Government, especially in terms of its huge contributions to the Consolidated Revenue Fund CRF, the NIMASA DG said that some policies adopted by his administration alongside the Treasury Single Account TSA was responsible for the increase in revenue. “NIMASA has transformed from contributing barely N3 billion to over N20 billion per annum to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and it will only keep getting better,” he said.
Furthermore, he said: “In order to block financial leakages, we subscribed to a full bouquet of the Lloyds and Clarkson intelligence; this made it almost impossible for any vessel calling at our ports to escape or under-declare; the TSA and our collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service among other agencies also played an important role”.
He also restated NIMASA’s commitment to growing indigenous capacity in the maritime industry, noting that the engagement currently ongoing between the agency and the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, was aimed at securing special interest rates and intervention funds for vessel acquisition and other ancillary transactions in the sector, all geared towards improving the Cabotage regime and the realization of a robust maritime industry.
Dr. Dakuku who referred to the maritime industry as a goldmine, however called for more objectivity in the reportage of activities of the industry, while assuring that the agency will continue to embrace all forms of collaborative initiatives that can help boost the fortunes of the nation’s maritime industry.
Meanwhile, in his Eid-El-Kabir message, the NIMASA DG urged Nigerians to love one another and live peacefully as they celebrate Sallah, adding that the period is not only for merriment but a time to reflect on happenings in the country.
“The Sallah celebration is not only meant for wining and dining but a time to reflect on re-dedicating our love for the nation. We have to exhibit values of love, peace and prayer for the country. We should also use the occasion in striving to continue to serve humanity irrespective of tribe, creed or political leanings.
“As our country grapples with various challenges of development, this is also an apt period for all of us to pray earnestly to God to continue to bless Nigeria as well as guide and guard it as we approach the 2019 elections,” he stated.
Recall that NIMASA had recently taken delivery of its floating dockyard, which is the fifth largest in Africa and when fully operational, the facility would save the country nearly N400million annually due to capital flight arising from the fact that ships operating in the county do their dry cocking outside the country because of non-availability of the facility in addition to the creation of scores of jobs.