Maritime: Okorefe Urges Minster Of Marine & Blue Economy To Liaise With Other Relevant Ministries To Fulfill Mandate

 By Stephen Ubanna

Charles Okorefe, an academician and a Lecturer at Maritime University, Okerenkoko Garamatu, Delta state is not used to making flippant statements.  The Academician who filled the vacuum created by Bashir Jamoh, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and who was billed to speak on Harnessing Nigeria’s potentials in marine and blue economy did not disappoint any one as Jamoh ‘s absence was not much felt.

The author  of ‘’the ABC of the Nigerian Maritime’’ ,  which Compt. Dera Nnadi, Area Controller of Tin-can Island Customs Command at the Lagos port of Tincan Island, who had presented the Customs position paper on the CEMA 2023,  signed into Law by former President Muhammadu Buhari, at the 25th Anniversary and presentation of Awards to 16 Corporate Organisations and Industry players organised by the League of Maritime Editors, LOME, in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre had described it as a must-read for every Nigerian.

Okerefe , Sitting after Compt. Ben Aramaligu of Oyo/ osun Customs Command, Ibadan

 The Academician who had advocated for the unbundling of the Federal ministry of Transportation in one of the LOME organised events in Lagos and eight months later, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu unbundled the old Federal ministry of Transportation by creating the ministry of marine and blue economy speaks volume.

This time around, the Academician had declared that there is no way the new ministry of marine and economy under the close watch of Oyetola, would fulfill its mandate between now and 2027, without synergising with other ministries .

The Okerenkoko Gbaramatu, Maritime University Lecturer   had cited the ministries of Tourism, which has Hon. Lola Ade-john as the minister but yet to resume uties after been sworn last August by he President, Petroleum Resource, which currently has two ministers of state, one for Oil and another for gas, as President Tinubu, remains the substantive minister, Transportation, Power, Agriculture, Environment and Labour and Productivity.

Many believe that the ministry of marine and blue economy and Tourism, particular, must work closely together to enhance the country’s revenue generation, job creation opportunities, fighting poverty and revamping the country’s ailing economy because of the potentials in maritime tourism and fishery for export like shrimps and seafoods.

At present, the revenue ranking in the maritime tourism market is led by the North American country of the United States of American, and quickly followed by the Asian country of China. Even the Caribbean region is highly dependent on maritime tourism. The role of maritime tourism in the economic activities the region, according maritime analysts was made possible following the dismantling of the system of agricultural Trade references in the late 1980s and 1990s, which had the industry to be resilient as additional output and export sectors waned.

Given reports making the rounds making the rounds from maritime circles, beginning from the base of US$4 million, in 1970, the region now receives more than   US $30 million   from tourists yearly.  The African country of Egypt was said to have netted $14 billion in maritime tourism alone in 2022.

 The situation was not different from the West African country of Gambia which depends on maritime tourism to rake in billions of United States dollars annually sustain its economy.  There are indications   that large foreign tourist companies control the tourism in Gambia and are offered incentives by the government to operate. The tourism industry in Gambia, it was gathered    is dominated by European tour operators serving relatively low-end European mainstream holiday package tourists.

The export of seafarers, an insider in NIMASA, confirmed, is another major source of forex earning by maritime nations. This is evident by the huge amount   The Asian earned by the Asian country of Singapore annually from the export of seafarers to other maritime nations engaged by shipping companies for their operations annually. The Asian country, according to the source earns over US $7 million annually from the export of seafarers alone. Nigeria, as a maritime nation has all that it takes generate revenue from maritime  tourism and export of seafarers the approved  Institutions offering maritime education and training.

The former Osun state governor, may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he disclosed at the LOME event that that he has set up the machinery and structures for the sector for job creation in maritime tourism, social development ‘’to enhance the sector increased contributions to national growth  and economic development’’.

This my have informed why he has given words to the Nigerian President   that ministry of marine and blue economy under his Leadership which oversees ‘’the country’s maritime sector   will witness a rapid transformation in the shortest possible time’’.

Oyetola, who has been occupied over the last four months on how to resolve the identified dominance of foreign shipping companies and infrastructure deficits at the nation’s seaport appears to have left no stone unturned to solve the problem.

The minister may have known that there is no much the ministry could do for now to restore the nation’s port fully back to life to fulfil its mandate of developing the ocean economy, marine tourism and fisheries without developing the port Infrastructure.

Although, Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, had said the Authority would need US$800 million to fix the broken down facilities at the nation’s seaports but Oyetola , had informed  Participants at  the 29th  Nigerian Economic Summit organised by the Federal ministry of Finance  and Economic Planning in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, that the ministry would need US$1 billion to fix the dilapidated Lagos ports of Apapa, Tin-can Island and the south eastern ports of Onne, PortHarcourt, Warri and Calabar.

The worry of many was that some Nigerian indigenous shipping companies have gone under over the years due to financial constraints.  President Tinubu had said a it

Super Crude Oil Tanker Used by foreign shipping companies To lift Nigerian Crude to the international Market on FOB

  that of the more than 5,000 ocean-going vessels that call at the nation’s seaports on a yearly basis, not one belongs to a Nigerian shipping company or flies the Nigerian flag which was not good enough.

The Nigerian President was emphatic that ‘’no Nigerian ship is involved in moving the most populous African country Crude oil meant for export to the international oil market, describing it as a ‘’sorry state of shipping development in Nigeria’’ as it leads to huge capital flight and deprivation of job opportunities for the country’s teeming unemployed seafarers.

This is because Sale of Nigeria’s Crude Oil has been on Free- On- Board, FOB, for over the past 40 years, which gives the foreign buyers the room to nominate   the ship that will carry to the international market and no one has ever nominated an indigenous shipping Company to do so for them.

Greg Ogbeifun, Managing Director and CEO, of Starz Marine and Engineering Limited had said that if   Jamoh led NIMASA had succeeded to berth a new trade arrangement, Cost, known as Cost Insurance Freight, CIF, it would have helped indigenous ship owners ‘’to acquire bigger tankers of international standards to take their rightful position in the trade of the country’s Crude afreigtmnt.  Ogbeifun, who incidentally was a former President of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, STOAN, had said that ships that move Nigeria Crude Oil to the Internal market are ‘’super takers of 300,00 tons, described in maritime circles as global trading ships. He was emphatic that ‘’there is no single indigenous shipping Company that own those ships or have the resources to acquire such super tankers.

Bashir Jamoh: DG, NIMASA

This imbalance which is dangerous to the economy may have informed why LOME, an Association of veteran Maritime Journalists had urged Jamoh and his Management Team ”to facilitate efforts in the disbursement of the over US $700 million Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, CVFF, to the selected indigenous shipping Companies as a pathway to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity in Nigeria.      

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