NIMASA: Time To Diversify The Economy Is Now As Maritime Holds The Key To The Nation’s Economic Development

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.

Jamoh And Rear Admiral Mackson Kadiri, Participant At Maritime Security Lecture , At NDC, Kaduna

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.

Jamoh , Air Commodore Kehinde And Captain Bamidele, NN At A Maritime Security Lecture, NDC,Kaduna

  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.

NIMASA Modular Floating Dock

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.                               .

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