Foremost maritime Lawyer, Olisa Abgakoba has revealed that there was a mafia group controlling the maritime industry in the country and their activities were not only selfish but slowing the growth of the sector.
Speaking at a press briefing held at his office recently, the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) urged participants to carefully cast their vote in the forthcoming presidential election for any of the candidates who had the interest of the sector at heart so that the activities of the mafia might be stopped on the long run.
According to him “ What can be done now is to ask the presidential candidates what they have for the maritime sector, because I know that there is a massive maritime mafia, there is a mafia that is controlling the maritime sector, you may not be aware of it. It is in their interest to keep Nigerian ships out of Nigerian waters, it is in their interest to allow foreign vessels control our cabotage trade; it is in their interest to continue to allow the likes of AP Moller to control the ports.
It is in their interest for import charges to be very high to the detriment of the Nigerian maritime sector. You can turn this around by getting the ears of your presidential candidate who is Nigeria-centric.
Agbakoba also reiterated his commitment to the maritime sector by promoting what he termed as the Maritime Action Plan (MAP) to increase productivity at the ports, create wealth and chart a viable course for the industry.
“Our role as stakeholders is to continue to put at the top of our agenda what we are to do differently from the past and that is to have a cohesive action plan to drive the maritime industry. Nigeria requires a practical and holistic plan to address myriads of challenges facing her maritime industry and to harness the potentials for the benefit of the nation”.
He continued “The challenges in the sector are enormous and multifaceted, that include access to credit financing, obsolete or ineffective laws, poor infrastructure and human capacity”.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) further stated that the government should left running of the ports to states governments that have ports in them. “The ports need to be modern, efficient and in my view not controlled by the federal government, very important. I think the port should be controlled be the relevant state governments when you have waters. The Federal Government is too busy doing many things” he said.