Maritime experts have stressed that Nigeria’s chances of attaining the lofty potentials in its blue economy will be determined by the availability of a well-coordinated approach targeted at economic growth in the sector.
These were some of the positions shared at the Bullion Lecture, themed: “Banking on Blue Economy for Nigeria’s Economic Development” which held at the Centre for Financial Journalism in Lagos, yesterday.
Speaking at the event, a former Continental President of African Women in Maritime (WIMAFRICA) and Principal Counsel, Jean-Chiazor and Partners, Mrs. Jean-Chiazor Anishere (SAN) opined that all industry stakeholders must work together via a coordinated approach to enable the country successfully bank on the blue economy to drive economic growth.
Anishere, who also chaired the occasion, maintained that Nigeria is blessed with vast coastline and abundant marine resources that can easily be harnessed for economic growth and development.
Her words: “It is just not for us to tap into the ocean resources. We need to ensure that it is sustained otherwise, we will not have anything to tap from. The sustainability of the blue economy is very key. It represents a significant opportunity for Nigeria to diversify its economy and create other alternatives for job creation and revenue generation by investing in things such as fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport tourism and others”
“To fully unlock these potentialities of the blue economy, it is essential that we adopt the strategic approach on what one can take into account to help.”
In his lecture, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, OFR, noted that while the country awaits a cohesive national policy to fully kick blue economy into gear, the nation must start to develop blue ambassadors and advocate for the sector.
Jamoh also posited that there is need for total rethink of the nation’s waters, emphasizing a change from a ceremonial view to a commercial standpoint.
“Events such as Argungu Fishing Festival and others must be redesigned and repackaged from the standpoint of the blue economy. We must intentionally work to banish sea blindness amongst Nigerians, ensure shipyard expansion for shipbuilding and others,” the NIMASA boss said.
Jamoh pointed out that NIMASA was driving Nigeria blue economy through the disbursement of the $720 million Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), deployment of modulator floating dock, capacity building of seafarers, wreck removal, underwater marine cable regulation and management and others.
Meanwhile, the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) assured industry stakeholders, NIMASA and the Ministry of Transportation of its members resolve to proper utilisation of the CVFF when disbursed.
Dr Mkgeorge Onyung, President of the association gave the assurance even as he averred that members of SOAN are very serious business persons.
“When we take this money (CVFF), we are not taking it as a grant but a proper loan. At SOAN, we can give you as a guarantee that we are a group of genuine shipowners. There is no member of our association that does not have a ship.”
“Our members are already working with International Oil Companies (IOCs) and we have good international standards. We are ready and responsible to take this facility. When one ship berths in our water, you see that the Chandler’s that you are talking about, the clearing agents, everybody will be part of the business,” he said.
He, however, appreciated the Federal Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA for taking the bull by the horn in planning to disburse the fund.