Friday, 21 April 2017

Buhari: we’ll unlock oceans, seas potential

President Muhammadu Buhari has said Nigeria will reposition the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to facilitate economic prosperity.

This, he said, will be done by unlocking the huge potential in this country’s ocean and seas.

Buhari spoke yesterday at a three-day conference of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) in Abuja.

AAMA is an umbrella body of five African Maritime Stakeholders’ groups, such as Association of Maritime Administrations of Africa, Africa’s Ship Registry Forum, African Ship Owners Association as well as Africa Shippers’ Council and Seafarers’ Forum.

The President urged other African leaders to tap into the huge resources in their oceans to boost the continent’s economic development and provide jobs for their people.

Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said the opportunities in the vast oceans surrounding the continent needed to be harnessed to diversify its economy.

The theme of the event is: “Sustainable use of Africa’s oceans and seas”. It was hosted by NIMASA.

Buhari added that there was the need for other African countries to develop regulatory and legal frameworks that will properly manage maritime resources and address the challenges facing the sector.

Leaders of the AAMA, Buhari said, must evolve synergies to reap the benefits of the oceans to ensure socio-economic emancipation of the continent.

The president said: ”Here in Nigeria, we have taken steps to tackle some of the issues peculiar to us while still calling for regional and sub-regional collaborations. We have set up engagement to resolve and address the misunderstanding and contentious issues in Niger Delta which, off course, is part of Gulf Guinea.

“We recently approved a new maritime security architecture and infrastructure to be jointly coordinated by NIMASA, NSA and FMOT. We have given required support to the Navy so that they can work with others within our sub-region to effectively police our waters to facilitate trade.

“This arrangement will also contribute to resolving and eliminating piracy and sea robbery in our maritime domain on our waters. The results are encouraging and piracy has dropped dramatically, especially in the last six months. “We are making substantive investment to improve human capacity by taking advantage of international trade in the shipping and our maritime industry.

“The measure we are putting in place is to increase efficiency of our port and to enable quick turnaround time of vessels. Technology is also being introduced to make our port operation effective to support economic growth. NIMASA as regulator agency is being reformed to play effective role as a facilitator of economic prosperity.”

Senate President Bukola Saraki, who was represented by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, said NIMASA’s efforts “have led to an upward swing in the level of local participation of Nigerians in the maritime industry and the use of Nigerian waters and seas for lawful economic activities”.

House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara called for collaboration among African countries to cultivate and reap the benefits of its oceans.

Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi said the African maritime transport charter inspired the formation of AAMA and encouraged information sharing, inter agency collaboration, sub-regional cooperation and approach to planning, implementation and maritime regulation on the principle of inclusiveness and collaboration.

The government, Amaechi said, has stepped up efforts to make Nigeria a deserved maritime hub in the West and Central Africa by embarking on comprehensive port reforms and upgrading port infrastructure as well as linking the ports to the rail network to boost efficiency and quick cargo clearance.

NIMASA’s Director-General Dakuku Peterside called for concerted efforts at tackling Africa’s maritime administration challenges.

Dr Peterside, in opening remarks at the conference, said: “We are particularly delighted that this conference, the third in the series after the first in Mombasa, Kenya and the second in Sandton, South Africa, is holding on our shores. Nigeria’s place in the maritime world is not only deserved, it is common knowledge.”

“It (Nigeria) is special in the maritime community in Africa for a number of reasons,’’ the director-general said.

He said Nigeria accounted for over 60 per cent of the total sea-borne traffic in volume and value in West and Central Africa.

Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Kitack Lim said AAMA should not relent in its determination to increase Africa’s share of global investments in the maritime sector.

Lim, who was represented by an official of the IMO, Mr William Azu, said the maritime sector provided raw materials, food items, employment and transportation of 80 per cent of global trade.

The conference ends today.


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