By Stephen Ubanna
Those paying lip service to the diversification of the Nigerian Economy may have to do a rethink. This is because many member nations of the United Nations, UN, particular countries in Europe including the North American country of the United Sates, US, over the last couple of years had embarked on the search for alternative sources of energy supply in order to reduce their dependence on crude oil, which is the main stay of the nation’s economy.
Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, may have hit the nail on the head when he revealed that about 14 countries, and 20 major cities around the world had ’ ha’’proposed banning the sale of passenger vehicles powered by Premium Motor Spirit, PMS,, popular, petrol or Automoted Gas Oil, AGO, diesel soon.The countries, a source said, are mostly Nigeria trading partners and other Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, member states, described as an oil cartel.
Many believe that the moves are being made by the developed economies to finally destroy OPEC, which had proved a hard for the countries to influence and another opportunity for them to finally crash the oil price in the International push some of the Organisation weak members ,out of the market.
Thy see it as a clear cut a message to the Nigerian government to take another serious look at the diversification of the economy to avoid being taking unawares when it eventual happens. Energy analysts noted that by the way the world is currently going. OPEC, member states, including Nigeria, may have to find a way of reducing their dependence on Crude oil sales in the International oil market to earn Foreign Exchange to run their respective economies.
Douye Diri, a Senator and governor of Bayelsa, who had a working paid a visit to Jamoh, at the NIMASA Headquarters, in Lagos, recently after going through the profile of the agency and its enormous responsibility had sad said that to the hearing of Nigerians and policy makers that ‘’maritime holds the key to the growth of the country’s economy’’.
Making a presentation at the Nigerian efence college , NDC, Kaduna, Kaduna state, on Maritime Security and National Development: The Role of NIMASA, for the NDC, Course 29, Participants, recently, Jamoh, the NIMASA Director General who could not hide his feelings had told the Course 29, military participants that ‘’the nation’s maritime sector offers a bounteous alternative to the country’s economic diversification drive’’. He is right.
It is instructive to note that there are enormous potentials to drive sustainable development in the nation’s maritime sector. The NIMASA boss, who is a key player in the Industry was said to have cited areas of huge investment potentials in the sector and which could enhance the nation’s Foreign Exchange earnings much more than the oil sector.
One of such areas of huge investment potentials in the sector , according to Jomoh, the NIMASA boss, is in the area of ship buildings and repairs. Another area in the sector that may be very attractive to investors because of the enormous profit that comes with it if properly harnessed is the investment on offshore/floating spare parts sales and maintenance, freshwater bunkering and supply as well as fishing.
This is in addition to dredging opportunities, and Inland waterways transportation. ‘’There is boundless opportunities for investment in the nation’s maritime sector, given the right conditions’’, he had said. An elated Jamoh had told those that cares to listen that ‘’if the nation’s maritime could be properly harnessed , it would give the country 30 times more than the revenue generated from the sales of crude oil in the International oil market’’. This should gladden the heart of Nigerians.
There are indications that the country is losing about $600 million annually to illegal and unreported fishing by Foreign vessels which had been blamed on lack of equipment such as Automatic Identification System, AIS, Vessel monitoring system and inadequate manpower to police the nation’s Coastline by NIMASA.
Investigations by The Value News shows that that the country spends about $800milllion annually on fish importation of fish alone, being the fourth largest importer in the world , next to China, Japan and the United States. A document by The Magazine cited at the Department of Fisheries, Victoria Island, Lagos, shows that the nation’s fish demand is estimated at 3.32 million metric tonnes while domestic production is only about 1. 12 metric tonnes, showing a deficit of 2.2 million metric tonnes. The country major suppliers of fish, are the US, Chile including some African, European and Asian countries. But the deficit in fish demand in the country if more Nigeria Investors could venture into fishing to take over the business from the Foreign fishing Companies who had dominated the business over the years.
The Department of Fisheries document cited shows that over 450 of the Asian country of China vessels alone, fish illegally in Nigerian waters and the Coast of West Africa, annually. The Magazine gathered that over 40 % of the fish currently caught in Nigerian waters and the Coast of West Africa are caught illegally by China, Taiwan, Russian South Korea, Spain, France and Thailand Fishery Companies.
There is no gain saying the fact that NIMASA and other key players in the nation’s maritime sector like the Navy and Marine police, a unit of the NPF, need the AIS and VIS equipment which use satellite in tracking to transmit vessel locations.
the Katsina state born Nigerian President over the last five years, accoding to Jamoh, the NIMASA Director General, has taken the bold initiative to on tackle the security problems arising from Nigerian waters by procuring most of the security equipment. Note that over 75% of all Gulf of Guinea- bound cargo are destined for the Nigerian market, described as the largest in the African Continent, which should serve as a source of encouragement for potential investors in the sector.
The importance attached to maritime security by the Buhari Administration, to tackle the problem may have informed why the government had invested heavily on ‘’the promotion of maritime governance, maritime infrastructure development and investment in maritime security’’.Jamoh had said that the recent arrangement for better management of the agency modular floating dock, and stakeholder report systems were also part of efforts to enthrone good governance in the sector.
He disclosed that the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, or the Deep Blue Sea project, and the various fleet expansion and ship building plans were initiated by the government ‘’to ensure a conducive environment for investment in the industry.
He may have gladdened the heart of the military personnel at the Lecture hall and indeed, Nigerians in general, when he said that the agency is tackling the security issues in the nation’s waterways with all the serious it deserves to ensure that those who do business in the country’s maritime environment arrive safely and leave safely without any threats.
Giving an insider information, he disclosed that NIMASA, the country’s designated Authority’’ for the implementation of the maritime regulations has taken steps to create the right atmosphere for investment in the sector’’. Among the steps that were said to have be taken by the agency in the recent time, to boost maritime investment, an insider said was’’ the intensification of Collaboration and teamwork among maritime agencies and strengthening of Cooperation between the agency and security agencies’’ .
It is not surprising why the agency and other relevant security agencies like the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Nigerian Police Force, NPF, Nigerian Navy, NN, and Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, are Cooperating in the area of information gathering and sharing.
The Maritime regulatory agency and the other security agencies, were said to have agreed to the establishment of a maritime intelligence unit maritime security document, and the proposed maritime security Committee. The enactment of the Suppression of Piracy and other maritime offences, SPOMO, Act in 2019, which had been signed into Law by the President and the first set of suspects arrested by the Navy and handed over to NIMASA, prosecuted and jailed speaks volume .
Impressed by what Jamoh had been doing since he assumed office last March, which were clearly highlighted in his presentation to the Nigeria Defence Cllege, NDC, Kaduna, Course 2 ,participants, Mackson Kadir, a Rear Admiral,’’ had called for a positive reorientation towards maritime issues’’. He gave Kudos, to the NIMASA , boss for his efforts ‘’towards the growth of the nation’s maritime industry and intensification of the Collaborative spirit among the relevant government agencies which have dealing nation’s waters. .