Why Buhari Wants A National Maritime Transport Policy For Nigeria


By Stephen Ubanna

For years, officials of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration  of Nigerian, CIoTAN, through Bashir Jamoh, the National President and now Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency , NIMASA, have been clamouring for the country to have a National Maritime  Transport Policy. The Institute officials were said to have presented their demand to past and present All Progressive Congress  government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired  army General but no effort  was made by those  at the helms of Authority  at the Federal ministry of Transportation  to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion.

Jamoh  and other officials of the CIoTAN, may have taken  advantage of the  establishment of the Maritime University at Okerenkoko, Warri South West , Local government Area of Delta state  and Nigerian Transport University , Daura, Buhari home state , to keep the hope of developing  the country’s maritime Transport  policy  alive.

Gbemi Saraki: Minister Of State, Transportation

 The CIoTAN  officials may have won the heart of Rotimi Amaechi a former governor of Rivers state and now the minister of Transportation and Gbemisola Saraki, a one-time  Senator of Federal Republic  of Nigeria and now minister of state, Transportation, overseeing the nation’s maritime sector.  The duo, in turn were said to have won the heart of the President, who saw the reason  with them for Nigerian to have a National transport policy.

The Nigerian  government ratification  of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCTA agreement, as the 34th member nation to do so  on  December 2020, which it had deposited at the African Union , AU, Secretariat, Addis Ababa, Capital of Ethiopia,  may have informed why the Buhari Administration  has taken  serious the development of a National Transport Policy  for the country. He was said to have thrown the challenge back to Amaechi and Saraki, the two ministers overseeing the of Transportation Ministry the go ahead and set up a Committee that would  develop a National Maritime Transport  Policy for the country  which must be  presented  to the government for approval and subsequent implementation.

It is on record that AfCTA, which is formed by 54  out of the 55 member nations of the AU, is the largest  free trade  area since  the World Trade Organisation, WTO, which Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former   minister of Finance and Coordinator of the economy  under erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan, is now pushing to become the President, was formed.

 Described as a game-changer   in African and World Trade, with a market of more than 1.2 billion people and about $3 trillion combined Gross Domestic Product, GDP,  and the potential of growing  intra-African trade by over 50%  , according to a United Nations Economic Commission For Africa, the government sees   the National Maritime Transport policy  as going to ‘’boost the nation’s maritime sector and widen the horizon  to enable it  serve the domestic market  and have Comparative advantage globally’’.

It is not surprising why she had said that that AfCTA will place Nigeria in place of Leadership  if the country adequately prepare for the Protocol. This may have informed why she had said  that ‘’it is expedient  to make  the maritime sector ready  for the AfCTA transit   Protocols  and other international Protocols for the country to compete favourably  in the regional and global markets’’.

As a prelude for the development of a workable National  Maritime Transport Policy  for the country that would benefit  the Nigerian business Community  from the $3 trillion GDP, market, that was scheduled to take –off on January 1, 2021 and which has its Secretariat in the West African country of Ghana, the government had appointed  Paul Adalikwu, Director, Maritime Safety and Security, Federal ministry of Transportation, as the Chairman  of the Committee to fashion out to fashion out a National Maritime Policy for the country.

 Other members of the Committee include Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director,, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Magdalene Ajani, Permanent Secretary, Federal ministry of Transportation,  Lynda Ikpeazu, Chairman, House Committee  on Maritime Safety , Education and Administration,  George Moghalu, Managing Director, National Inland Water Ways Authority, NIWA, and Jamoh, the NIMASA , Director General, who has been represented in the Committee by  Chudi Ofodile, the Agency Executive Director, Finance and Administration. Danjuma Goje, a former governor of Gombe state and Chairman , Senate Committee on Maritime Transport, who also represented in the Committee by  Senator Ibrahim Yahaya.

 Adalikwu , who had been saddled with the responsibility of developing a National Maritime Policy for the country had said that  the nation’s maritime sector which is vital for the take –off of AfCTA,  cannot be successfully administered   without a policy document  that contains genuine, reliable  and updated data’’ on trade that can stand the test of time.

Adalikwu, had said that the National Maritime Transport Policy document is aimed   at developing ‘’a maritime  industry  that is income generating , self- sufficient, Competitive with Comparative  advantage in the regional and global markets’’.

Jamoh: National President CIoTAN And DG, NIMASA

Given the seriousness of the Buhari Administration to the development of the National Maritime Policy, the first Stakeholders Forum  on the Draft Policy was held in Lagos recently. The meeting, according to Philip Kaynet, a Deputy Director, Corporate  Communications, NIMASA,  was initiated by  the Federal ministry of Transportation  ‘’to get stakeholders buy-in and outputs, as the policy  document  was being fine-tuned’’.

 Saraki, the minister of state, Transportation, who could not hide her feelings that the policy  is being developed during her tenure,   had said that ‘’it would lead to improved  Foreign Direct Investment, FID, inflow and enhance the ability  of the Nigerian Maritime sector to  Compete internationally’’.

She may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when she said   the Transport policy would give Nigeria  ‘’a pride of policy  in AfCTA, agreement’’.  An elated Saraki had said that ‘’it would usher in a regime of robust maritime transport system in the country in line with  international best practices’’.

She opined that ‘’the adoption of the Transport policy would mark  a paradigm  shift  in the country’s  economic Competitiveness’’. She maintained , in her opening address at the stakeholder’s Forum, which was read by Mrs. Ajani, the ministry Permanent Secretary in the Transportation Ministry  that the National Maritime Policy document  ‘will guide  and sharpen  the activities  of the industry stakeholders.

Describing it as an all-encompassing document , the minister disclosed that that ‘’it will skyrocket the nation’s  maritime  sector activities  to compete favourably in the international market’’, noting that, that is why   the document is extremely important  and Crucial to  the development of  the sector’’.

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