• Monday, June 24, 2024
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Nigeria’s maritime sector can generate N7trn annually, says Agbakoba

Nigeria can fund 2024 budget without debt – Agbakoba
Olisa Agbakoba, a renowned maritime lawyer, has said that the nation’s shipping sector has the potential to generate annual revenue of N7 trillion into the federation account if properly harnessed.
Speaking on Tuesday in Lagos on the next ‘Policy Dialogue Series on Generation of Revenue from Nigerian Shipping Sector’, Agbakoba, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said that the Federal Government should diversify the nation’s economy from being oil dependent and explore other non-oil sectors of the economy in the wake of continuous drop in the price of crude oil at the international market,
According to him, shipping is crucial to maximising oil potential, saying the Federal Government needs to overhaul policies, institutional, regulatory and legal framework in the shipping sector to be able to tap into the revenue, which the sector has in stock for both the government and the masses.
“Nigeria’s shipping policy framework, which was last reviewed 28 years ago, is currently outdated and incoherent. This has made Nigerian seaports to become uncompetitive, therefore, pushing shippers outside the shores of Nigeria to ports in Benin Republic and Togo. We need to pass the Ports and Harbour Bill, the Maritime Zones Bill and the Transport Commission Bill,” he stated.
He further noted that lack of regulation in the shipping sector has resulted to plethora of uncoordinated activities as well as exorbitant port charges, which make Nigerian ports unattractive for importers. “The paucity of Nigeria’s shipping regulations is violating international trade facilitation laws. For instance, Nigeria as a coastal state is supposed to provide port importation support to landlocked countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso but the country has lost the tonnage that would have accrued from such support services to Cameroun and Ghana.”
On how to tap into the potential of the shipping sector, Agbakoba urged the Federal Government to create an enabling environment for ships with cargoes to come into the country. By so doing, he believes, the nation will make huge sum of money from both the ships and cargo owners, and also put an end to cargo diversion to other countries’ ports.
The government, he said, can generate revenue by promoting indigenous participation in the shipping business, which is currently being dominated by foreigners. “We have over 5,000 foreign owned vessels operating in our waters and they are carting away jobs and money that are meant for Nigerians. We need to encourage Nigerians to own vessels because promoting foreign interest will not help the nation’s economy to grow rather it will continue to create capital flight.”
Agbakoba further stated that Nigeria needs to borrow a leaf from China by putting in place policies that are geared towards creating affordable pricing for goods and services for the average Nigerian. “We need to lower the import tariff just like Benin Republic did because we have the numbers in terms of population. Nigeria needs good governance, accountability and good leadership to further drive the nation’s economic and political policies.”