From left: Permanent Secretary, Office of the Head of Service, Dr. Bakari Wadinga, , Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Representative of Speaker House of Reps, Linda Ikpeazu, former president of NITOA, Mrs. Margret Orakwusi and Director, Maritime Safety and Security, FMOT Danjuma Dauda, at the 2019 African of the Seas and Oceans organised Thursday July 25 by NIMASA in Lagos,.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that the optimum harnessing and utilising Nigeria’s rich marine resources could help her achieve most of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals SDGs, especially in terms of poverty reduction and providing adequate healthcare facilities for her growing population.

Speaking in Lagos, Thursday at a ceremony hosted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA to mark this year’s African Day of Seas and Oceans, with the theme: ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Marine Biodiversity for Accelerated Economic Growth’, the speaker said that the maritime industry holds a lot in stock for Nigeria’s economic growth than any other sector.

According to him, Nigeria’s rich maritime resources represent a vital economic safeguard and vehicle for the successful implementation of the President Muhammadu Buhari government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan ERGP, which must be sustainably tapped.

While commenting on the theme, which echoes the African Union’s AU subject for the 2019 African Day of Seas and Oceans: “Enhancing Africa’s Role in a Globally Binding Instrument on Marine Biological Diversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction”, the Speaker pledged that the National Assembly would support efforts by the executive to ensure sustainable management of the country’s vast marine resources.

Recall that the AU had set a 10-year period from 2015 to 2025 as the Decade of African Seas and Oceans, and July 25 of every year as the African Day of seas and oceans.

According to Gbajabiamila, who was represented by Linda Ikpeazu, “Efficient management and sustainable exploitation of the marine resources in our seas and oceans, no doubt, provide a veritable tool for our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan as a country and give expression to our sustainable development goals.”

He added, “We will support the sustainable governance of Nigeria’s seas and oceans and the efforts of the executive arm of government that would see the effective domestication of relevant international conventions of the International Maritime Organisation on marine environment management through legislative enactments.

“The National Assembly would also work with the executive arm in putting in place the necessary legal framework for the Blue Economy to engender and protect the Nigerian marine environment and development of the ocean economy.”

Meanwhile, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, while speaking at the event, disclosed that the agency had forwarded to the Federal Government for ratification six International Maritime Organisation IMO instruments as part of efforts to ensure sustainable management of the marine environment.

Peterside reiterated NIMASA’s critical focus on the development and protection of the marine environment, saying, “Our efforts in this area have been recognised by the International Maritime Organisation.”

He listed the marine environment management instruments forwarded to the government for ratification to include: the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009; International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel; the Protocol Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties Intervention), 1973; and Protocol on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC), 1996.

Speaking also, the chairperson of the event and Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Common Services, Dr. Bakare Wadinga, said maritime security and development were a top priority of the Federal Government in the execution of the ERGP.

The chief host, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, said with Nigeria’s over 850 kilometres coastline, the country was blessed abundant resources to back its economic diversification and development drive. Zakari, who was represented by Director, Maritime Safety and Security in the ministry, Dr. Danjuma Dauda, also restated the government’s commitment to the development of the maritime sector.

The event featured paper presentations by President, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association WISTA, Ghana, Jemilat Mahamah; Secretary-General of Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (Abuja MoU), Mrs. Mfon Usoro; environmental consultant, Professor Babajide Alo; and President, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Jibril.

Dignitaries at the event included the Director-General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency NOSDRA, Mr. Idris Musa; Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria MAN, Commodore Duja Effedua; and Chairman, Shipowners Forum, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi. There were also members of the Governing Board of NIMASA led by the Chairman, General Jonathan Garba.