By Elizabeth Chukwuma
Those who think that Oil would remain the main stay of the country’s economic development would be disappointed. This is because the maritime sector appears to have shown to be the only hope for the economic growth and development of the nation with the fluctuation in the international Oil over the last couple of years.
Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and minister of Transportation may have realised this early enough that he appears to instrumental to the major government policies aimed at developing the nation’s maritime sector to get into the mainstream of the country’s economy expected to ‘’engender economic growth and prosperity’’.
The minister who was represented at a two-day workshop on the United Nations, UN, Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework: A process to mainstream the maritime sector organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ,NIMASA, in Collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation ,IMO, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, in Lagos by Dakuku Peterside, the agency Director General was said to have given the keynote address.
He had said that the ‘’Maritime Transport Plan and Strategy when fully completed will provide a’’ robust enabling framework for achieving Nigerian maritime objective and foster Public, Private sector collaboration and inter-regional cooperation’’.
Aechi who could not hide his feelings disclosed that the Workshop was an essential step in a continuing shift in strategic thinking about sustainable development of the African Continent in order to ‘’develop and provide stakeholders the much needed framework in addressing the African countries Sustainable Development Goals’’.
He noted that as the African Continent forges ahead with phase II negotiations for the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area AFCFTA, the ‘’maritime sector remains critical to seamless trade and effective economic integration between African nations’’.
‘’Our approach towards the realization of the SDG is contingent on our joint effort and ability to put in place the much needed Cooperation framework in Collaborration with critical stakeholders using the maritime sector as a veritable tool to promote Agricultural development, food security, industrialization and economic transformation of Nigeria and other member countries of the African Continent, he had said.
A n elated Amaechi gave kudos to the IMO, UNECA and NIMASA for putting together the workshop, and expressed optimism that with the level of participation, the ‘’objectives of developing a blueprint and agreeing on a common approach in mainstreaming the maritime sector into the SDG and national plan of states will be achieved’’.
Peterside, the NIMASA Director General, who wore two caps, at the Workshop, in his welcome address, noted ‘’there is the need for the leaders in the African continent to understand the workings of the maritime sector, as it plays an important role in a nation’s economic development’’.
He emphasied the need for stakeholders to assist the leaders understand why it is important to mainstream maritime sector in economic plan and economic strategies of the various countries.
Given his understanding of the sector over the last four years, he stressed that the country must align with the initiative of the IMO to mainstream the country’s maritime transportation to the economic planning of the Continent and also in their strategic planning.
He declared that ‘’not only are we going to mainstream maritime transportation to the economic transportation of other countries but ‘’there must be a shift from looking unto other countries for assistance to working with these countries and other international partners in a Cooperative and Collaborative manner’’.
The NIMASA boss may have gladdened the heart of participants at the Workshop when he revealed that Nigeria is currently pursuing an economic diversification programme with a long term plan. According to him the country is ‘’working from the known to the future it deserve’’ .
Given an insider information, he noted that the country had already taken a number of steps that could help in building that glorious future ‘’we are working towards’’.
Juvenal Shiundu, Director, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO, in his remarks gave assurance that the IMO is committed to assisting member countries on the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda.
The IMO Director stressed about the Organisation’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is manifestly reflected in its General Assembly Resolution A.1126 which was said to have been adopted at its 30th session in 2017.
The resolution, Shiundu said includes among others, invitation to member member countries to partner with other organisations to coordinate and work with the five UN Regional Economic Commissions to ensure that the maritime sector is reflected in their regional Programmes.
Isichei Osamgbi, a Deputy Director, and the NIMASA spokesperson disclosed that the two-day workshop was meant to create a forum for all the key players and stakeholders involved in maritime transportation to meet and establish the necessary contacts, which will be needed for future collaboration and for the inclusion of the maritime sector in the mainstream of their economic strategies towards economic growth.
In a related Development,Lawan Ahmad led Senate has called on the Nigerian maritime regulatory gency, NIMASA, to quickly fast-track the implementation of the Deep Blue Sea Project that had been launched for the protection of the country’s waterways from pirates and armed bandits who disrupt maritime activities. Note that the agency had established a permanent marine Police to combat the activities of the pirates and armed bandits but the project according to insider sources remained at the planning state because there is no law backing it.
Maritime analysts believe that only the implementation of the Deep Blue Sea project would curb the menace of piracy and armed banditry in the Gulf of Guinea in order to restore the Country’s maritime sector to the mainstream of the economy.