Dr. Muda Yusuf (Former DG, LCCI)
The Maritime industry has been facing a lot of challenges since independence. The investment in the infrastructure of the maritime industry has not kept pace with the growth of the economy. So we find a situation whereby as the economy was growing since independence, our investment in maritime infrastructure have not been growing to match the pace of economic growth and activities. One of the important points is the port infrastructure. We have missed out in the opportunity to make Nigeria a maritime hub for the West African sub region. All the transit cargoes that usually come into our ports no longer come and that its loss of opportunities and business for investors and stakeholders in that sector.
We need a lot of reform going forward. We need to reform the processes of cargo handling and cargo clearing. We need to reform the institutions and get all the major stakeholders in the maritime industry to be more committed to an investment friendly maritime environment.
Engr. Bob Yousuo (National President, Merchant Navy)
Nigeria is moving on. We are developing and doing well, but we need to do better than this especially in the area of our local content that is, the Cabotage. How many of us have vessels? We are supposed to be building our vessels now. We should focus more on the area of self-reliance and self-sufficiency and not dependence on foreign contents. Unlike other countries like South Africa who are building their ships. I will say overall; Nigeria is doing fairly well.
Mfon Usoro (Stakeholder)
No doubt, Nigeria is a maritime nation. The emphasis should be on significance and aiming to be a maritime super power. We have the maritime resources; we have some ships. I would say Nigeria is not where I would have expected it to be. It is not where most countries who are now 61 years old are. We are hoping that we would fast-forward and be able to bridge the gap so that we can take our rightful place again in Africa that everyone listens to especially when maximising the benefits of the AfFTCA. I am hopeful and optimistic that there is hope. We just need to focus on the important things.
Emeka Akabogu (Maritime Lawyer)
We all know that our maritime industry is not where it ought to be. Our maritime sector has under-performed. That is why we are coming together as stakeholders to harness our opportunities for the success of our maritime domain. We are hoping that something good will come out of it on a sustainable basis.
Rev Jonathan Nicole (President, Shippers Association of Lagos State)
At 61, our Naira has depreciated to an alarming proportion. The Central Bank of Nigeria has been helpless. Traders are not safe on the highways. Investors are leaving our country. Nigeria has lost over 20 trillions of viable investments as a result of closure of businesses across the country. We hope to gradually integrate all the major stakeholders to come together and fashion out a New Port Order for Nigeria. There are maritime technocrats in the industry. They should be invited to assist the Minister of Transportation and other maritime agencies whose management are not experienced enough to handle highly technical issues like the maritime sector.
Simeon Nwonu (Deputy National President, NAGAFF)
I think there have been improvement in maritime operations in Nigeria. For instance, the introduction of the CRFFN, the review of PAAR which is a working instrument by the Customs, the digitalization and the Single Window being operated by Customs, were not there before. But because of the systemic corruption in Nigeria, those ideas and programmes that are meant to standardize progress in the maritime domain are not working as expected. These are the issues we have. However, I would say the maritime industry in Nigeria is progressing though at a very slow pace.
Engr. Alalade Matthew (Former President, Merchant Navy)
The maritime industry is trying; compared to what we have seen in the past years. It has improved in security. But in seafaring activities and acquisition of ships, we are just above average. All the vessels which are supposed to do business here are now in neighbouring countries like Cotonou, Lome, Ghana and the rest. The government is not putting adequate efforts in improving the industry. On the score card, I will give Nigeria average.
Festus Ukwu (Secretary General, NCMDLCA)
There are ups and downs in the maritime industry, but there are improvements. We are having more ships now in the ports. The turn-up of vessels and cargo tonnage increase into the country also brings progress. But in the administration of the maritime industry, we have not been opportuned to get the right person who is to manage the industry. We need to have a square peg in a square hole. The glory that the maritime industry has gained before is now being eroded, because we don’t have the right calibre of leadership the maritime industry. However, there is still hope because the industry is improving. Let us watch out and see what is happening for now. Giving an overall score, I will give the maritime Industry an average score.
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