As the global demand for oil fluctuates and environmental concerns grow, Nigeria has sought alternative sources of revenue in the creation of Maritime and Blue Economy Ministry. The ministry, it was gathered provides a promising avenue for sustainable economic growth, creating new job opportunities and attracting foreign investments.
The fisheries sector, for instance, holds immense potential for Nigeria’s economic development. With a coastline stretching over 850 kilometres, the country possesses abundant fishery resources. However, due to limited infrastructure, outdated fishing techniques, and inadequate regulatory frameworks, Nigeria’s fisheries sector remains largely underdeveloped.
Nigeria’s blue economy, experts, argued extends to maritime transport. With its strategic location in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria can become a major hub for maritime trade and logistics in West Africa. By developing and modernising its ports, improving connectivity, and enhancing maritime security, Nigeria can attract more shipping companies, increase trade volumes, and generate substantial revenue. This would not only benefit the country’s economy but also strengthen its position as a regional economic powerhouse.
Renewable energy is another aspect of the blue economy that Nigeria can harness. The country’s vast water resources provide an ideal environment for the development of hydroelectric power and other forms of renewable energy.
Also, the World Bank said blue economy will ensure sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods. The African Union (AU) estimates that the blue economy currently generates about $300 billion for the continent, creating 49 million jobs in the process.
Whether it is the World Bank, the United Nations or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), they share the same view about ocean resources as the next great economic frontier of the world.
Maritime experts, however, stated that the ministry is long overdue and would help to re-energise the nation‘s economy only if the Minister, Adegboyega Oyetola, harnessed the potential inherent in the sector.
According to stakeholders, it is easier to state the potential inherent in the Blue Economy than harnessing them, saying government must firstly define the jurisdiction, legal framework and work against duplication and conflict of interest.
Speaking on the inhenrent potential and how it shall be successfully harnessed, the former executive secretary, Nigerian Shippers‘ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello, called for caution, saying the role of the ministry must be adequately defined to achieve it objective.
According to him, there must be definition of jurisdiction for the newly created Ministry, because the ministry by President Bola Tinubu, is the first deliberate effort by the federal government in so many years to harness the potential inherent in the maritime sector.
“So, that clarity is very important but whatever the case may be, if there is a gap then it means we are not getting the best of the resources. We have about N7 trillion in that sector to be harnessed and as i use to say when I was the Executive Secretary of Shippers‘ Council that we can as well close the nation‘s oil well if we position the sector very well.
“I hope the government must be commended for creating a separate agency but, i hope we have to be careful against duplication and conflict. We have to navigate carefully for distinction and legal framework.”
The maritime experts, however, cautioned that the ministry mustn‘t be entangled or fall in the pit of bureaucracy or territorial acquisition.
He said, “this is one of the first deliberate conscious effort either by design or forced that the government is extremely conscious of the role of maritime in the new awakening as far as our economy is concerned. There are a lot of things to be handled and blue economy should be defined and should have their work cutout for them.
“For instance, what are we going to do with fisheries? Transportation on the water? What is the role of tourism? How will blue economy create jobs in bringing mega revenue to the govt. That‘s very important but clarity as I said is important, we need to define the jurisdiction and the functions of this ministry,” he stated.
Bello said the federal government must create the right atmosphere for the sector to reap from blue economy and it must be devoid of bureaucracy and conflict.
“We have to be careful in other not to fall in the pit of bureaucracy. Someone will say this is my territory and this is not yours and before you realize, seven month gone down the ladder, you are still looking about for the definition of what the new Ministry is all about.
“However, I believe there shouldn‘t be any issue because we have about seven countries that have the same nomenclature of Marine and Blue Economy. Blue economy isn‘t a new thing, it has been a topic of discussion in about three years back by NIMASA championing revenue that could be generated from Oceans. I think we have to come for issue of regulation and issue of enabling the atmosphere.
“The government must create the right atmosphere for us to reap from Blue Economy devoid of bureaucracy and conflicts and power. With clarity, I think this will be a very good move by the government.
“The ministry of Marine and Blue Economy is significant but we have to be very careful of clarity. There must be clarity of jurisdiction and functions if this ministry so that we don‘t just create an empty bureaucracy,” he stated.
Also, the managing director, NLNG Ship Management Limited, Abdul-Kadir Ahmed, on his side, said for government to harness the potential, they must provide and enforced regulations, safety and oversight functions, saying only private sector would be driver of the harnessing the Blue Economy potential.
In a chat with LEADERSHIP, Ahmed, said, „Blue Economy will be driven by the private sector.
The benefits of the blue Economy will be driven by the private sector. The government is to provide regulations to allow the private sector thrive and safety is important. Government and regulatory authorities are to ensure that safety is assured. Competitiveness should be on the front burner and the expectations is to strengthen regulations and oversight for private sector to take the lead in harnessing the potentials inherent in the sector.“
According to Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP, he said Nigeria must advance policy issue as well as to tap into the massive economic opportunities in Blue Economy.
Agbakoba also called for proper direction of government to easily contribute at least N7 trillion to the public revenue annually.
He, however, commended President Tinubu for yielding to the long-awaited policy advocacy of the nation’s maritime community by creating the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.
“This has been a major omission. Nigeria is a maritime nation and must advance policy issues to tap into the absolutely massive economic opportunities.
“This is a sector that will, with the proper direction of the government, easily contribute at least N7 trillion to the public revenue,” Agbakoba said.
Also speaking on the prospects of the new ministry, Bashir Jamoh, the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said the creation of this ‘long overdue ministry’ will give a massive boost to plans and programmes that the President intends to deploy in maritime and aquaculture sector of the economy.
Jamoh further urged Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunities in the Nigerian maritime sector.
“There are new opportunities around us, and I’m glad Nigeria, with the creation of this ministry, will explore the concept of the blue economy.
“The blue economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.
“Blue Economy activities include Maritime shipping, Fishing & aquaculture, Coastal tourism, Renewable energy, Water desalination, Undersea cabling, Seabed extractive industries and deep-sea mining, Marine genetic resources, and Biotechnology.
“Honestly, this ministry is long overdue and more importantly, to support the diversification of the economy,” Jamoh added.
Also, indigenous Shipowners under the auspices of Nigerian Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), confirmed that the ministry was long overdue and would create jobs, sustainable growth and wealth creation for the country.
The group who also said that the nation’s maritime sector will thrive said the sector plays a pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic development.
„We understand that there may be challenges ahead, and the Integrity Group stands ready to provide support and expertise to ensure the success of initiatives aimed at enhancing the maritime sector. We look forward to constructive dialogues and collaborative efforts that will further strengthen the industry’s role in the national economy.“
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