By Stephen Ubanna
Given the growing importance of the global Blue Economy, which the Economic Cooperation and Development, ECD, a non-governmental Organisation comprising of 36 member countries of the United Nations, UN, had said that ‘‘with efficient management and Sustainable exploitation of the resources of the seas, lakes and rivers’’, could constitute close to $1.5 trillion, Barshir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, had said that ‘’it holds a lot of potentials for Nigeria’’.
Jamoh , the NIMASA, Director General, had taken advantage of the opportunity provided by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, which is the intellectual base upon which decision –makers rely for informed opinion and expert advice in order to make rational choices between contending policy options to declare that the Institute has ‘‘a critical to play for the nation to fully harness the potentials of the Blue Economy’’.
The NIMASA, Director General , who had delivered a working paper on the’‘Opportunities and Challenges in harnessing the Blue Economy’’, was said to have told participants at the NIIA Seminar, that ‘‘the task of the agency, just like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now baptized Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, overseeing the nation’s oil industry with the signing into Law of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, passed by the National Assembly in July 2021, by President Muhammadu Buhari is ‘‘to explore how Nigeria can maximize the benefits derivable from the Blue Economy’’.
He noted that ‘‘the concept of the Blue Economy , which has gained prominence some few years ago ‘‘requires local, regional and international Collaboration to manage all the critical factors to achieve the expected goal’’ He was emphatic that NIIA that would facilitate ‘‘the realization of the Blue Economy given its central role of advising the government on policies’’.
The message was very clear: We want to partner with the Institute to achieve the Objective of the Blue Economy in Nigeria. The NIIA Seminar was said to have also drawn participants from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the close watch of Abdulaziz Bawa, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, which has Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel as its Comptroller General and Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, led Nigerian Navy among others.
Aware of the growing importance of the global Blue Economy in his capacity as the NIMASA helmsman, over the last two years, Jamoh had told those that cares to listen that‘‘Cooperation and Collaboration amongst all the government agencies and the Organised Private Sector, OPS, will accelerate harnessing the successes of the Deep Blue Project to achieve great results.
The Deep Blue Project , is very important to the Buhari Administration which had spent $195 million by engaging the services of HLS Systems and Technologies Limited, an Israeli Security firm, which had delivered 17 Interception Boats, 16 Armoured Vehicles, for Coastal Patrols, Two Special Mission Vessels, Two Special Mession Aircrafts, three Helicopters and four unmanned Aerial Vehicles to NIMASA.
It was surprising why he had remarked at the NIIA, Seminar, that he appreciates the participation of the EFCC and the NCS as well as the Nigerian Navy in it. It bear eloquent testimony to the fact that he had looked forward for such an opportunity to meet with other government agencies in such forum to highlight to Nigerians and the international Community about the full potentials of the Blue Economy and the need to invest in it.
There is no gain saying the fact expanding fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, transportation, maritime activities in the country is very instructive.. More so, investments in inland ports activities will also enhance food and energy security, employment, economic growth and exports, ocean health and sustainable use of ocean resources in the country.
In the North American country of Canada, for instance, fishing is almost an industry of its own. Jamoh, the NIMASA boss has repeatedly said in different forums that there are many things that could be achieved from the blue Economy, which may hay have informed why the agency is not lagging behind in looking at the various options to move away from the country’s mono-economyoil dependent.
Given the efforts being made by NIMASA, under the current Leadership of Jamoh to promote the Blue Economy, may have encouraged the Buhari Administration to set the machinery in motion ‘ ‘to explore it’’.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had said that ‘’it entails emerging renewable energy, seabed extractive activities, maritime biotechnology and bio-prospecting’’ which holds good for the economy. According to him, the Blue Economy, if fully exploited, because there are many bodies of waters, ‘‘it will offer a whole vista of opportunity for economic activities in the country, particular, in areas close the ocean’’.
He had said that about 40% of the world population live in the coastal zone. The Coastal economy includes not only the sum of output from ocean resources, but also employment on or near the coast , thus making a disproportionately high contribution to the economies of many economies and the global ocean economy. The Nigeian Vice President had said that ‘‘the coasts sustain the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people in work that ranges from artisanal small scale fisheries and aquaculture to transnational fishing, shipping , energy and tourism industries’’.
Indeed, the recent NIIA, Seminar, on ‘’Safety, Security and Development in Nigeria’s Maritime Dormain: Problems, strategies and prospects, in which the NIMASA, Director General, was made to deliver a working paper, may have opened people’s eye on the benefits of the Blue Economy.
While acknowledging the progress that had been made by NIMASA over the last two years in securing the nation’s maritime dormain and the Gulf of Guinea, Eghosa Osaghae, the NIIA, Diretor General, had highlighted’ ‘the importance of the Blue Economy globally’’ and called for sustainable use of the country’s ocean resources to be considered when shaping government policies at the Federal level’’.
Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director and the agency spokesperson reported that he had stated that the global Blue Economy ‘‘when considered in Economic terms would be the seventh largest in the world and which highlights its importance’’, noting that ‘‘sustainable use of the Blue Economy for economic growth should be at the core of any policy formulation by any government’’.