In order to fully harness the maritime potentials in Lagos State, the President, Ocean Ambassadors Foundation (OAF), Hon. Violet Williams has emphasized the there the need to revitalise Ehingbeti, the Lagos State maritime hub.
Williams made the call at the establishment of the Lagos Blue Economy Project, the Renaissance of Ehingbeti Maritime Hub, yesterday, even as she observed that the revitalisation of Ehingbeti would boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Lagos State as well as job creation.
Ehingbeti is a maritime heritage documentary of Eko (Lagos) on how commerce started in Lagos before the advent of port.
“Years ago, when we hear Lagos Island, people say the place is not safe, meanwhile it is safe; it’s just the way we approach it. If Ehingbeti is revitalized, there will be maritime tourism, night life and job creation,” she said.
Williams, however, noted that before oil boom commerce was at its peak, the coastal state had the floating buka, a Nigerian yatch that was brought back because of the waters, where they had fun and launched others.
She added there was the need to reinvent the old into the new, the conventional blue economy, adding that Lagos State government never had any business with port facility and investment, but they had now invested in Lekki seaport.
“As Ehingbeti became moribund, we don’t want the new Lagos to become moribund. That is why we have to bring out the rise and fall of Ehingbeti which later went to Apapa and Tin Can.”
“If you look now, it’s an elixir of itself, nobody wants to touch Apapa. They want to go to Lekki, the same crowd will go to Lekki but there should be a difference. The blue economy must thrive there, it must not die because it’s the new Lagos,” she said.
She pointed out that government should invest in indigenous communities stressing that blue economy centres on sustainability and inclusion.
“Look at the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea, it has to do with non-inclusion of the indigenes of the coastal communities. Ehingbeti is all about inclusion of coastal communities,” Mrs. Williams explained.
Also speaking, Oba Abdulwasiu Lawal, Abisogun II, the Oniru of Iruland, noted that Ehingbeti was the old good days in Lagos and prayed it would be revitalized.
“The task here is to do a review of what are the elements that feature in the old Ehingbeti and the management of the regulatory system and how they can be used to form a global perspective.
“I identified inclusiveness, safety, security, people-centred policy, environmental health and employment wealth creation are those elements that played up in the early Ehingbeti.
“This is a greater opportunity for our industry experts and stakeholders to take a cue from the elements in order to extract things that would help in successful implementation of the blue economy in line with our local remedies,” he said.
He said Lagos needed to do a lot in terms of blue economy, a lot of activities, recreation hospitality, job creation abound and the way it affect the community.
“When we talk about the blue economy how does it affect my people, from Isale Eko, Ijora and others, what is the inclusiveness, are they involved in the policy of the Ministry of Transportation.
“What is the Nigerian Shippers Council doing for the people of Lagos? How many Lagosians do they have in their organisation? Have they reached out to the traditional rulers, the owners of the land on what they want? They have not done that.
“There is nothing like wealth or job creation because they have not created job for the indigenous people,” he posited.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), Dr. Magdalene Ajani, said that although the concept of blue economy is all about sustainable use of ocean resources for growth, livelihood and job creation, the environmental impact must be taken into consideration.
Ajani represented by Mrs Selia Ekanem, Deputy Director, Cabotage and Shipping Development, FMOT, added that Nigeria is endowed with enormous acquatic and marine resources huge for the growth of blue economy.
“These water bodies are strategic importance and can provide diverse opportunities for fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, coastal tourism, offshore oil and gas energy mobilisation and other blue economy related activities.
“Given the strategic position of Lagos State as a coastal state viz a viz the humongous untapped resources, the full benefits associated with the concept of blue economy is achievable,” she said.