For Nigeria to effectively move away from an oil-dependent economy and industrialise, it must develop the blue economy. This was the position of the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside and other top players in the maritime industry, at the 2018 World Maritime Day celebration held in Lagos.
Themed “IMO 70: Our Heritage - Better Shipping for a Better Future,” this year’s event, which coincided with the 70th anniversary of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), according to Dr. Dakuku, could not have come at a better time than now, when Nigeria is taking deliberate steps to harness the enormous benefits of the country’s maritime industry.
According to the Director-General, NIMASA is taking various steps to ensure the growth of the sector for the overall economic benefit of the country. “We want to make sure that our maritime sector remains virile and this is the reason we are making moves to safeguard our maritime domain because we cannot talk about shipping without taking the safety and security of our maritime domain seriously,” he stated.
Dakuku pointed out that the total spectrum maritime security strategy being put in place by the Agency will ensure that the maritime subsector was rid of criminalities that hamper the industry’s growth. He said the ultimate goal of the Agency was to make Nigeria one of the safest maritime domains in Africa.
Commenting on the Executive Order of the Federal Government on Ease of Doing Business, the Director-General said the Agency had succeeded in reducing the issuance time for bill and sailing clearance to vessels to 24 hours, thereby drastically reducing the delay in vessel turnaround time.
Speaking at the event also, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, who represented the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, said Nigeria received and generated a lot of cargo and must, therefore, take advantage of its geographic position to grow its economy through effective maritime development.
Zakari said, “Nigeria enjoys larger share in the movement of cargoes due to her location along the Gulf of Guinea, which is a transit and strategic route for movement of cargo across Africa. It is, therefore, imperative that the route is secured to fully harness the benefits of maritime trade.”
In the same vein, Nigeria’s Alternate Permanent Secretary to the IMO, Mr. Bala Dikko, said in recent times Nigeria’s relationship with the United Nations organ had improved. He commended the leadership role NIMASA was playing in the West African sub-region, stating that security in the region has greatly improved due to the renewed collaboration and cooperation being championed by Nigeria among the maritime administrations of the sub-region.
In her own remarks, the Secretary-General of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Sub Region, popularly referred to as Abuja MoU, Barr. Ufom Usoro, noted the recent strides of NIMASA in the development of the maritime industry. Usoro said NIMASA, as Nigeria’s representative on the MoU, had played a leading role in the region, especially as it concerns port state and flag state control. She commended the leadership of NIMASA for carrying the stakeholders along in its bid to move the industry forward.
Usoro said the impact of the Dakuku-led management of the Agency was being felt on the continent, adding that this is one of the reasons he was re-elected to lead the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) for another term at the recently held fourth conference of the body in Egypt
The Rector of Maritime Academy (MAN), Oron, Commodore Duja Effedua, and other notable stakeholders at the event were unanimous in their commendation for NIMASA, especially as it concerns building capacity for the sector. They called for support for the Agency’s drive to create sea time for the graduates of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP).