The creation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy is a novel development in the annals of Nigeria’s political development since 1960 when Nigeria gained her independence from the British colonial rulers.
There have been questions from different quarters on what is blue economy and what does it portends for Nigeria’s economic development.
The Oxford Languages dictionary defines blue economy as “an economic system or sector that seeks to conserve marine and freshwater environments while using them in a sustainable way to develop economic growth and produce resources such as energy and food”.
The Word Bank says the blue economy is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem”, while the European Commission defines the blue economy as “All economic activities related to oceans, seas and the coast”.
Former vice president Yemi Osinbajo during the inauguration of the Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria on January 21, 2021 said: “There is no doubt that the blue economy is a new frontier for economic development and a means of diversifying the economy through the use of resources from oceans, seas, rivers and lakes for the well- being of the people.
Countries have to define the scope of their blue economy based on their priorities. For example, in Bangladesh, the ocean economy consists of the following broad and growing economic sectors; living resources, minerals, energy, transport, trade, tourism and recreation, carbon sequestration and coastal protection. These industries and ecosystem services do not develop in isolation, but rather interact as an economic ecosystem.”
Experts say the blue economy “supports all of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG14 – ‘life below water’, and recognizes that this will require ambitious and coordinated actions to sustainably manage, protect and preserve our ocean now, for the sake of present and future generations”.
It also refers to “an economy based on the sustainable use of resources of the ocean for building economic growth, while simultaneously conserving the health of the oceans”.
In a blue economy, according to experts, the focus is on preserving marine health as much as it would be on human growth, it would also include boosting marine trade and opportunities, and include other areas as tourism, renewable energy, and development of fisheries.
“Oceans are an important carbon sink and can help greatly mitigate the ill effects of rising climatic changes like changing ocean current patterns, rising sea levels, and acidification; maritime transport of international goods traded through sea routes is expected to grow in great numbers in the years to come; better waste management on land can improve the oceans-health and enable their recovery”, another report said.
By the creation of the Blue Economy Ministry, Nigeria has joined the league of countries which have committed to the Blue Economy concept. Examples of countries which have embraced blue economy are Denmark and Norway. Available report indicates that Blue Economy is gaining traction in India, and the government says” it the sixth dimension of the New India Vision”.
It’s hope that Nigeria’s commitment to the blue economy would help develop our inland waterways, coastal shipping and revamp maritime logistics, creating new job opportunities and even reducing logistics costs, particularly haulage of goods and farm produce across the country; renewable ocean energy, fisheries and aquaculture, building seaports and shipping; working on marine biotechnology research and development; enhancing marine tourism and cruise tourism; exploring offshore hydrocarbons and seabed minerals. We also expect that the federal government interest in blue economy would also enhance safety in our waters and littoral states.
Good enough, the man saddled with the responsibility to midwife the new ministry, and bring to bear the benefits of the blue economy, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, is an ICT guru, an accomplished entrepreneur and a lawmaker.
Before his advent into politics, Tunji-Ojo was an accomplished business and management executive with a flourishing career in ICT, becoming the CEO of a leading indigenous ICT consultant company in Nigeria, Matrix IT Solutions Limited, at the age of 24. He holds a certification in Ethical Hacking and Counter Measure as well as being a certified CompTIA Network Plus Engineer and a Britannia Hardware A+ Management Certificate Holder.
He consulted for the World Bank and several government agencies, including Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), National Health Insurance Scheme, Abuja (NHIS), Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Nigeria Sovereign (NSIA), various committees of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Nigeria Gas Company, National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education among others.