The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has vowed to fight for increased use of indigenous ships to handle oil contracts if they have the capacity and if the vessels meet global acceptable standards.
The Minister made this promise at an interactive session on the Day 2 of a recent maritime stakeholder’s summit organized by the Federal Ministry of Transport last week.
“Show me that you have the capacity. Prove that Nigerian ship owners can do the jobs given to foreign ship owners and I’ll approach the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and challenge him at the senate if we have to get to that level”
“Nigeria doesn’t have enough money to allow foreigners take away jobs that Nigerians can do but the government has to be sure that the indigenous ship owners have the capacity to deliver. I don’t want to be embarrassed if I have to go into a debate with Dr. Kachikwu” he said.
This statement came as a result of series of complaints by ship owners that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was not patronizing indigenous ship owners and depriving them of handling contracts that would see them have funds to maintain their vessels and contribute significantly to the growth of the Nigerian economy even as more Nigerians would be employed.
Speaking for the indigenous ship owners, Chief Jolapomo had earlier lamented that Nigerians were providing less than 10% of the vessels utilized by the NNPC.
“They (NNPC) say we don’t have capacity but how do we get the capacity when we are not empowered?” Jolapomo queried.
However, Amaechi joked that he could ask his friends in the All Progressives Congress (APC) to go and buy vessels and license them to do oil business if the indigenous ship owners do not have the required capacity to handle the contracts.
Amaechi stated that as an International Maritime Organization (IMO) contracting government, the nation was ready to create the enabling environment to steer the maritime industry to its rightful position by formulating an all-encompassing maritime policy for Nigeria.
He also said that the Ministry was focused on providing a safe and secure environment for both foreign and indigenous investors to reap returns on their investment while not compromising the economic benefits to our people, as well as joining the rest of the world to pro-actively express our concern for climate change.