Stakeholders have lauded the Federal Government for establishing the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy and expressed optimism that it would widen the exploration of Nigeria’s coastal potential.
Some of them, who spoke with journalists, expressed hope that the ministry would revitalise the nation’s seaports and boost economic growth across the country.
They said that the new ministry has the capacity to generate more than $1.5 trillion per year and provide millions of jobs if the massive potentials in the marine industry were effectively utilised.
Recall that the blue economy involves all economic activities related to the oceans, the seas and the coasts.
It refers to the industries and societies that rely on oceans and waterways and involves economic sectors such as offshore wind energy, tourism, marine biotechnology, fishing, agriculture and transport.
Covering more than 70 per cent of the earth’s surface, oceans and seas provide food, medicines, renewable energy, and natural resources to billions of people around the globe.
But to fully explore the potential of the maritime industry, Mr Ayotunde Bally, the Chief Executive Officer of Arvofinance, has urged stakeholders to adopt collaborative and innovative strategies to open it up.
Bally told journalists in Lagos that the impact the new ministry would be felt if there are huge investments in port infrastructure, shipbuilding facilities, and coastal management systems.
“Such investments are crucial for enhancing the competitiveness and efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime sector,” he said.
He said that upgrading existing ports, establishing new ones, and improving connectivity would attract international trade and stimulate economic growth.
The financial expert emphasised the need to encourage the development of maritime skills through vocational training programmes and educational initiatives.
“Collaborating with educational institutions and industry experts will help create a skilled workforce capable of driving innovation and competitiveness within the industry.
“Promoting collaboration between the government, private sector, and international organisations will facilitate innovation, attract investment, and foster technology transfer.
“Public-private partnerships can enable the sharing of resources, expertise and best practices, ultimately fueling the sustainable growth of the maritime industry.”
He called for a reduction in bureaucratic barriers, while ensuring transparency to create an enabling business environment for stakeholders.
Bally said that implementing clear and fair regulatory frameworks would help Nigeria to attract domestic and foreign investments, fostering a vibrant and thriving maritime industry.
“We must also invest in research and development initiatives to unlock new opportunities within the blue economy,” he said.
He added that encouraging collaborations among universities, research institutions and industry players would foster the development of cutting-edge technologies and solutions.
“The creation of the ministry signifies a pivotal shift in the country’s approach toward harnessing the immense potential of its coastal resources.
“This strategic decision demonstrates government’s recognition of the significant economic opportunities inherent in the maritime industry.”
According to him, the impact of the ministry on Nigeria’s economy is expected to be far-reaching as it will facilitate economic diversification and reduce the nation’s reliance on oil as the primary revenue source.
He noted that the maritime industry encompasses a wide range of sectors, including shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, and offshore exploration, offering a plethora of avenues for economic growth and job creation.
“Moreover, the ministry’s focus on sustainable practices will ensure the responsible utilisation and preservation of marine resources.
“By promoting sustainable fishing methods, safeguarding marine ecosystems and supporting eco-friendly tourism initiatives, Nigeria can attract international investments and position itself as a global leader in sustainable blue economy practices,” he added.
Ms Funmi Folorunso, Secretary General, African Shipowners, said that the African Blue Economy Strategy had been applauded worldwide as an economic tool that should be embraced by all.
Folorunso added that the creation of a ministry dedicated to it was a clear indication of purposeful leadership ready to optimise the potentials of the blue economy for Nigeria.
“As a country, we must list what these potentials are, prioritise areas we want to work at, and dedicate human and financial resources to it.”
Another stakeholder, Rev Jonathan Nicole, former President, Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), told journalists that government should re-introduce workable economic policies that would attract investors and protect their investment for the ministry to impact the economy.
According to Nicole, policies should help streamline the processes of quality investment and its sustainability and also ensure a balanced trade platform.
“Government should replace the survival of the fittest situation which breeds harsh government policies, especially with the Nigeria Customs Service, where goods are more treasured than human lives.
“For shipping, Nigeria has no alternative for now than to rely on foreign shipping lines for movement of goods and services.
“Government should introduce the shipping policy that makes it mandatory for owners of vessels to fund their local agents, as it used to be. This will stop local shipping costs.
“The shipping policy should be broad enough to provide the step by step requirements in Shipping trade in Nigeria,” he said.
Nicole said that the evolution of shipping business would expand the Nigeria’s scope of getting modern vessels for ferries and other cross border trade through sea routes.
He suggested that all ports should be identified with one regular trade movements like Timber in Sapele Port, fisheries in Koko, while Warri Port may be the main port with navigable draughts, handling containers and general Cargo.
Nicole added that the Benin Gelegele Port should be developed to link up with the Sea which was not too far away as it could handle exports from the North and some aspects of export cargo from the East.
He urged that there should be a realistic inter-government forum to reduce the cost of cargo clearance, re- structure the Nigeria Customs Tariff into an acceptable documents, that even the smugglers would be glad to comply with.
Nicole noted that ocean was where shipping trade take place and if properly harnessed could generate over N7 trillion yearly through fisheries, coastal inter regional trade, oil and gas, seafaring and others.
“The ocean is magnanimous enough for supplying water steadily to all areas of existence and beyond. The pollution in our waters must be cleaned up. The areas of pollution should be cleaned up to allow aquatic life to survive.
“The blue economy will encourage clean drinking water for all, investments will be massive as tourism will blossom,” he said.
Mrs Eunice Ezeoke, President, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), said the new ministry would pave way for new frontier of national economic development through Nigeria’s vast coastline of 853km and 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
She said Nigeria’s coastline was almost one-third of the nation’s landmass, adding that the ocean contributes an estimated 300 billion dollars to the African economy and support over 49 million jobs.
According to Ezeoke, Nigeria must key into this and ensure that the ocean and waterways resources plans must be incorporated into the Nigerian national developmental strategy. “The new ministry is a commendable development and one in the right direction.
“It has given exposure to the non-oil sector of the economy for growth, expansion and will definitely highlight the many benefits accruable from the ocean resources, rivers, lakes and the waterways,” she said.
She, however, urged that the nation’s shipping approach must be sustainable with the use of the ocean resources for economic growth and well-being.
“There is need for a cohesive deliberate, strategic and sustainable development plan to map out the headway in order to optimise the potential at all levels of the spectrum.
“The new ministry will lead to infrastructural development of the sector in the area of job creation, draw attention and focus on technological developments, food productions and, of course, security must improve,” she said.
Ezeoke noted that growth was expected in the area of fishing, transportation of goods by waterways and store export as there would be emerging sectors such as marine biotechnology, deep sea mining, renewable energy and eco-tourism under the new ministry.
Meanwhile, experts and stakeholders in diverse aspects of the economy in Ondo, Ekiti and Osun have described the new ministry as a goldmine capable of turning around the nation’s economic fortune, if properly harnessed.
The stakeholders spoke with journalists in Osogbo, Ado-Ekiti, Akure and Okitipupa.
They said that the fund from the ministry could be channelled to other critical aspects of the economy to engender a rapid development of the country.
An economist, Mr Samuel Atiku, said that the ocean and deep sea, with massive amount of opportunities ranging from aquaculture, fishing and tourism to transportation, are among the few sectors that have remained untapped.
Atiku, who said that the worth of sea food markets globally was about $160 billion between 2019 and 2020, observed that people had started projecting that the threshold of such markets would have risen to between $340 billion and $360 billion in 2027.
He said that Nigeria stands a good chance to generate a lot of sea funds for economic growth, “if the ministry is well coordinated.”
According to him, the ecosystem around the ocean, through proper monitoring, coordinating and supervision, will ensure a safety of marine life and protection of the oceanic edifice.
“I believe we are heading in the right direction, but we should look for experts in such field capable of handling and coordinating the ministry,” he said.
AGF urges 36 State Governors to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Lateef Fagbemi, SAN urges the Attorneys General of the 36 states to ensure full implementation of financial autonomy for judiciary in their respective states.
Fagbemi made the call at the meeting of the Body of Attorneys General on Tuesday in Abuja.
“I urge my distinguished colleagues to ensure the full implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary across our States as provided for under Section 121(3)&(4) of the Constitution.
“This is as a mark of our true and holistic commitment to the ideals of democracy and good governance.
“We should in this regard seek to robustly build the capacities of the judiciary, both in terms of personnel and infrastructure, particularly by investing in technologies that are necessary to automate vital aspects of our court operations and ultimately implement a digital justice delivery system”.
He noted that the need for improvements within the judicial and justice sector institutions and practices is non-negotiable.
“Access to justice goes to the very heart of what our mandate entails. So, we will in this regard critically look at the major policy documents that would lead us to this goal.
“One of the documents is the revised National Justice Policy, 2024-2028 which we hope would be considered and adopted at the National Summit on Justice.
“The ministry is making plans with relevant stakeholders to convene a National Summit on Justice, to among other things, engage all justice sector stakeholders to constructively look at how far we have gone in the implementation of the 2017-2022policy document.
“We will in this regard seek to examine current challenges within justice sector institutions with the objective of supporting critical reforms, necessary to build a resilient justice system; facilitate adherence to rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights and ultimately, build public confidence in the entire justice sector”.
He said there is the over-riding need for close collaboration, cooperation and mutual understanding in the performance of the constitutional and statutory responsibilities by the Attorneys General.
“We collaboration both horizontally between the national and subnational entities and vertically by the three arms of government at all levels.
“We need to see how we can strengthen the entire justice sector particularly the administration of criminal justice sector, in order to meet the end goals of justice and the expectations of our citizens.
“This objective is very central and key to the realisation of our mandates as Chief Law Officers within the Nigerian Federation.
“As we all know, the effectiveness and functionality of the justice system has direct effect on the overall development, stability and sustainability of any society”.
Fagbemi said that it had become imperative for states of the federation to take maximum benefit of the constitutional alterations in developing their legal and policy frameworks legislative issues.
“In doing so, I enjoin the states to ensure proper structuring and delineation of their responsibilities by taking cognizance of the constitutional doctrine of covering the field, so as to minimize or avoid constitutional frictions”.
Nigeria’s waters now secured for local, intl. trade – Navy chief
The Nigeria Navy says it has successfully secured the country’s territorial waters for local and international merchant ships to transport goods and services without fear of criminal attacks.
Rear Adm. Zakariyya Muhammad, Chief of Training and Operations, Nigeria Navy, gave this indication to newsmen in Onne, Rivers, at the end of a four-day naval expedition, codenamed “Exercise Nchekwa Oshimiri 2023”.
The four-day exercise, tagged ‘Chief of the Naval Staff 2023 Annual Sea Inspection’, featured 13 warships, 88 patrol boats, two helicopters and 4,000 personnel.
Muhammad said the navy was able to fully secure the nation’s maritime environment with enhanced presence of its patrol boats and warships at sea.
“Our enhanced presence at sea had restored the confidence of merchant ships and other maritime stakeholders in conducting legitimate activities.
“This four-day exercise afforded us the opportunity to maintain presence at sea; enhance our maritime security – leading to interrogation of several ships and arrest of one.
“Exercise Nchekwa Oshimiri has enhanced the training of personnel onboard our ships for better performance in delivering our constitutional mandate of securing Nigeria’s maritime domain,” he said.
Muhammad said that Nigeria’s maritime environment and economic zone were now secured which has impacted positively in security of the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
“So, our increased presence at sea has given more confidence to merchant ships to carry their trade without fear or threat from maritime criminal elements.
“This exercise has also improved security within the wider GoG because our sister navies and countries are abreast that we are conducting this exercise,” he added.
Speaking, Navy Capt. Tony Archibong, Commanding Officer, Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS), Kada, said the exercise was an enormous success.
He said Exercise Nchekwa Oshimiri was part of actionable steps taken to end oil theft, sea robbery, sea piracy and illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, among others, in Nigeria’s waters.
According to him, the exercise was used to improve operational capability of Navy’s fleets and stimulate real-time operational scenarios.
“During the exercise, we had a merchant vessel stimulate a rogue vessel engaged in anti-piracy for which we dispatched NNS Aba and NNS Oji to intercept, board, seize and search the rogue vessel.
“The exercise is used to build confidence in our security architecture aimed to secure the maritime environment for mariners to continue to carry out their trade and economic activities.
“Therefore, this will benefit both the Nigerian people and other maritime stakeholders using our waters,” he said.
The Nigeria Navy also conducted activities like anti-bunkering operation, fleet manoeuvring, gun exercises and replenishment (refuelling of warship from another) among others.
Insurgency: Defence Minister, Service Chiefs visit Maiduguri operational base
The Minister of Defence, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, on Tuesday, paid an operational visit to the Theatre Command, Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK) in Maiduguri.
Abubakar was accompanied in the visit by the Minister of State for Defence, Bello Mattawalle, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Christopher Musa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal, Hassan Abubakar, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla and Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Undiandeye.
The Minister said that he was in Maiduguri in company of the high level delegation of the Service Chiefs assigned by President Bola Tinubu, to appraise security situation in the theatre of operation.
“President Tinubu asked us to visit the governor and the good people of Borno, and our patriotic officers here in Borno to see and to hear from them, what is happening both in the frontline and in the cities.
“What are the progress being made and what we need to do more to support their operations.
“We had frank and honest discussions with Gov. Bagana Zulum before coming here where we discussed the way forward and it is our resolve that in no distant future, we will see the end of the insecurity.
“He had also shared a lot of strategies with the CDS and the Service Chiefs and together they agreed on the next line of action and I believe if followed religiously, insecurity in the state will come to an end,” the Minister said.
Abubakar reitrated commitment of the president to support the military and security agencies to end insurgency and restore peace to ensure sustainable resettlement of displaced persons.
“From here, we will go to see our troops, greet and thank them for their sacrifices, for being their and taken the bullet for us, for all the work that they are doing as well as hear from them on their challenges and needs so that we can how best we can resolved them
“The crop of leadership we have in the military are working hand in hand together and have resolved to fight this war diligently and they are working as a family committed to see the end of the menace in no distant future.
The Minister commended Zulum for his support to the military, adding that, “we appreciate all the support, sometimes you risk your life in supporting and giving courage to our personnel in the frontline”.
Responding, Zulum said the visit to the theatre demonstrated the commitment of Service Chiefs towards achieving lasting peace in the State.
He said the security situation in the state had improved tremendously as a result of the successes recorded by the troops.
The governor cautioned against sensational security reportage, noting that the insurgents leverage on such information to breathe in spite of its diminishing capacity.
“Within the last two weeks, I have been to the nooks and crannies of the state and reports reaching me from stakeholders in these areas indicated that peace has returned in the state,” he said.
While lauding President Tinubu and the military for sustaining the improved security situation in the state, Zulum urged them to root out remnant of the terrorists.
“The only way we can degrade their presence is continued and sustained military operations,” he said.
He said that about 160,000 insurgent fighters and their family members had surrendered sequel to the non kinetic effort of the military.
The governor sought the support of the military in terms of manpower development to enable the state to curtail transborder small arms and light weapons proliferation.
“We have insurgency in other part of the country but the security in the northeast is very important for the stability of the country because of the porous borders with Niger, Cameroon and Chad Republics.
“We have to ensure that we don’t have safe haven for ISWAP in the northeast as the Sahel is now a major problem,” he said.
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