Adegboyega Oyetola, minister of Marine and Blue Economy, says Nigeria will through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), sustain security on the nation’s territory waters to attract investment.
Speaking in Lagos on Tuesday during his ongoing maiden visit to NIMASA headquarters and facilities in Lagos in the company of Bashir Jamoh, the director-general of NIMASA, Oyetola said that investors will not want to invest in Nigeria’s maritime domain if the country cannot guarantee security.
“So, the first thing is to ensure that the security of our waterways is guaranteed. We need to invite investors, and I want us to be able to ensure investors come and invest in the sector. In Kenya, for instance, there is a particular beach that contains 10,000 villas imagine the kind of revenue they will be getting from that alone,” he said.
While commending NIMASA on the efforts they put in place to ensure the security of the nation’s waterways, he said that securing Nigerian waterways will also spur the people to use the waterway for transportation.
“I have seen the command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence facilities (C4i) and they have reduced the level of piracy to zero and we should sustain that. If we are able to encourage people to come and invest in our coastline, we will get the maximum benefit that other nations in the world are getting,” he said.
The Minister further said that Nigeria needs to look into the fishing business by encouraging the youths to go into fishing.
“We should encourage Nigerians by ensuring that we have a fishing line, we can invest in fishing trawlers, and this will help our youths to be gainfully employed. Aside from this, the Central Bank of Nigeria data shows that billions of dollars were spent last year on importing fish.
“The irony of it all is that most of these fishes are harvested from our waters and taken to neighbouring countries and brought back to us as canned fish. This is the time for us to ensure that we take control of our waterways and harness the potentials that abound there,” Oyetola said.
Oyetola said that Nigeria is really ready for the Marine and Blue Economy in the real sense of it, even as he promised that all issues hindering the success of the industry will be looked into with the view of ensuring that Nigeria is prepared to face the challenges ahead.
“Nigerians are really looking forward to the Ministry to harness the potentials that have been there all along in a coordinating manner. As regards sustaining the economy through tourism, Nigeria has about 853km coastline which is in abundance,” he added.
According to him, “The new government is particularly interested in the NIMASA Modular Floating Dock because of its potential to generate employment and stem capital flight. But we must find a way of ensuring stakeholders’ buy-in, in whatever we do so that we are seen to be working together for the growth and development of Nigeria.
“Similarly, I am convinced we need a national carrier, especially through a PPP arrangement. We are about the only country that is an OPEC member that still charters vessels to carry our crude where 30 per cent of the charge goes to freight. We must find a way around it. Again, what most Nigerians do not know is that most of the shrimp that are imported into our country are imported from our waters. Therefore, it is now time to put an end to it by getting involved,” he explained.
Oyetola, who decried the rate for charter vessels’ crude oil lifting, said the time has come to ensure stakeholders’ buy-in as the nation needs a national carrier, especially through a PPP arrangement to overcome the challenge.
On his part, Bashir Jamoh, the director-general of NIMASA, commended the Minister for taking time out to visit the agency and vowed that his management would work with the minister to actualise the Federal Government plans for creating the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry.
The Minister visited NIMASA facilities, the enforcement area, the head office, the training school, and the C4i centre at the Resources Centre, which houses the security of the waterways.