Nichodemus Odollo (Trustee, Shippers Association, Lagos State)
The maritime sector has experienced a lot of derailment and has become an all-comers affair in time of policy and development. This has given the intruders opportunity to continuously milk and suck the blood of Nigeria’s maritime sector. Nigeria maritime sector is bleeding and may be destroyed at anytime from now if nothing tangible is done to save her. Many people thought we are growing, but the reverse is the case. We need urgent change in policy, ensuring international best practice and independence of Nigeria maritime sector.
Tunji Obagbo (Director, POTEMAN)
The maritime sector in Nigeria started very well by allowing foreign operators in our vicinity, we learned from them to establish ours. The Federal Government however is the genesis of our problem in all ramifications, as a port operator they failed, as a regulator they also failed, they have failed to give back up to the indigenous private investors in Nigeria, they provided no helping hand, even our Cabotage law was politicised as against professionalism. We have a lot of policies and good Bills awaiting passage before the lawmakers, they have subjected these Bills to become their ‘ATMs’, demanding gratification before looking into them. To get it right, we must put round pegs in round holes. Maritime is an international business, but our leaders are not practicing professionalism. As we are celebrating 58 years of independence, we must learn how to make use of our professionals to become useful to us and be competitive internationally.
Sampson Chima (Registrar, Nigerian Institute of Shipping)
Firstly, let’s consider our position in IMO, if we are not there definitely we have not done well. You can only measure your achievements by many factors; Are we among the game-players in the international shipping? Are we recognized as a maritime nation? Are we competing favourably with the players around the world? Is Nigeria's name among the Categories of the IMO? If we can't answer these questions, then we are nowhere. Let's use our tongue and count our teeth.
Capt Tajudeen Alao (President, Master Mariners)
At 58 years, our National shipping line could not be brought back. National fleet is a tall dream; we are not participating in West coast trade. Fleet of tankers and cargo ships are not seen there again, our once vibrant fishing fleet is lost. Our maritime institutions are not strengthened. Mariners still go overseas for Senior Marine Courses/ Certification.
Ease of doing business in the port is not improving; access roads to many ports are death traps. Political incursion into leadership of the maritime institutions has not helped the industry. Maritime has become free entry free exit for players. The earlier the industry charts a new course and explores the potentials of blue economy and economic importance of shipping to national development, the best for all.
Mr. Muda Yusuf (DG, LCCI)
The sector has not been growing as fast as the economy is growing; there is no sufficient investment in the sector. The ports were built more than 30 years ago and the capacity of the ports have been practically stagnant and yet the economy is developing in multiple folds. So all the reforms we expect at the sector are not coming out as fast as we want to see. We still have serious problems; the single window is not there, we are still doing physical examination. The performance so far particularly in the area of port infrastructure is still not there, even in spite of port concession. So the progress that we have made is not satisfactory at all.
Mr. Paul Ndibe (Acting Director, CILT)
Just like Nigeria, the maritime industry or sector is growing and the logistics and Transport industry put together are also growing and there is no end to such growth. However, the feeling that is clear is the infrastructural provisions for the facilities for proper growth and development of the maritime sector are not in place. Look at the issue with seafarers, ship acquisition and Cabotage and a lot more even look at the roads.
Capt Alfre Oniye (Sec, Merchant Navy Directorate)
Talking about seafaring in Nigeria, we should say that it is at the back stage presently. Seafarers presently in Nigeria are not enjoying anything. We should be looking at the bad working conditions. No salary for months, security at the zero level. So far this year, 39 seafarers were kidnapped. Unemployment last year was at 50%, but now it is over 80% this year. Over 100 seafarers are in prison for crimes committed by ship owners. Are we going to say that we are increasing or progressing in the maritime industry, we are not. Go to ports, jetties, come on board and you will see what is happening there. Since the Nigerian National Shipping Lines died, things have gone worst; in a country where you don't have a national carrier how do you expect things to work.
Emmanuel Nwagbara (Maritime Lawyer)
Nigeria has done relatively well in terms of keying into some of the international conventions in the area of maritime safety and security. We have the Safety Of Lives At Sea which has a protocol Act, STCW, that is training of seafarers in terms of certification an watch keeping and that is meant for the safety of seafarers, Nigeria has done well. Sea piracy remains the down side of it all. Well I think the maritime industry can be said to have scores about 50% when you put them on the scale.