This might definitely not be the best of time for Nigeria’s maritime industry as the spate of piracy on the Gulf of Guinea continues to pose threat to national earnings from seaborne trade.
Statistics showed that the nation undertakes freight cost of between $5 billion and $6 billion yearly, while the maritime component of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is worth an estimated $8 billion alongside seaborne transportation, oceanic extractive resource exploitation and export processing zones.
Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, at an event to commemorate the World Maritime Day in Lagos, yesterday said the fortunes might not be realistic if the security challenges continue unabated.
He said: “Maritime activities are essential to the world’s economy, as about 90 per cent of the world’s cargo is carried by ships on the sea as it is the most cost-effective way of moving goods and raw materials around the world.
“Nigeria enjoys a larger share in the movement of these cargoes, due to its location along the Gulf of Guinea, which is a transit and strategic route for movement of most cargoes across Africa. Although, the route has witnessed a lot of maritime crimes that has affected shipping activities around the region, it is imperative that the route is secured to fully harness the benefits of maritime.
“For effective contribution of shipping activities to the development of Nigeria’s economy, there is urgent need to curb and combat these illegal maritime activities in our waters as these crimes continue to constitute impediments to economic development. As long as these crimes continue to pose danger to the Gulf of Guinea and our maritime domain, the benefits of the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day celebration will continue to be elusive,” he said.
Amaechi, who was represented by Sabiu Zakari, however disclosed that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the procurement of new security architecture for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which involves the acquisition of new platforms and other logistics required to enable the Agency perform its statutory functions of securing the Nigerian waters in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, expressed worries that in spite of the numerous recorded achievements, the maritime industry in Nigeria and globally has come under siege by criminal elements who orchestrate acts of piracy, sea robbery, arms proliferation, crude oil theft, terrorism, migration, illegal and unregulated fishing and oil theft in the Guif of Guinea and within Nigeria’s territorial waters.
Mustapha, who was represented by the Minister of State for Works, Power and Housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri said: “The gains recorded via dredging, amnesty and port concession exercises in Nigeria nosedived due to this unfortunate scenario thus compelling some foreign shipping companies to request for Government’s approval to enter Nigeria’s territorial waters with armed security personnel onboard.”
He however assured that government is not taking the issue of safety and security in the Maritime sector lightly because the maritime industry must be protected to attract foreign investors and also preserve Nigeria‘s territorial integrity.
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala assured that the NPA is committed to exploring all opportunities, including collaborations with sister agencies, international organisations and private sector participants towards leaving the Nigerian maritime better and sustainably more efficient.