The Nigerian chamber of Shipping (NCS) has said that the maritime sector in Nigeria was capable of turning around the fortunes of this country if adequate policies were put on ground and followed up.
The Vice president pf the Chamber, Mr. Andrew Isichei who made this known at a function held recently in Lagos stated that this was possible considering that many other countries of the world were living on nothing other than the maritime generated revenue.
Isichei observed that countries like Greece, Philippines and India with population less than that of Lagos State in the south west Nigeria were thick today in the global economy due to the remittances that accrued to them by their seafarers traversing the length and breadth of the world.
He posited that the same would be the case in Nigeria if new ports were developed, capacity built, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria repositioned and replicated in many parts of the country to train specialist personnel for the industry.
He argued that if there was employment in the shipping sector and seafarers trained and equipped, the benefits would be innumerable to the economy thereby strengthening it.
According to him,’ if new ports are developed, if capacity is developed, training of specialist personnel, Maritime Academy in Oron, If we have many of them well managed and churning out seafarers, national income will be enhanced, there will be employment”.
“You know in Nigeria, hardly, very few will find somebody whose salary he alone needs. You can hardly find anybody who will earn his salary and doesn’t have a dependent relation to take care of. If you don’t have, you still remember your parents”.
“So, if there is employment, seafarers area are developed and Nigeria has seafarers, the benefits still trickles down to the economy because they will pay less, the quality of live will move up, people will shop and as they are shopping, the ripple effect in the economy will still be within Nigeria”.
He opined that if the government was able to change the nation’s terms of trade where Nigeria’s crude oil would no longer be sold on Free On Board (FOB) basis, where Nigerians handle the movement of the crude oil from Nigeria to abroad, the economy would be better for it.
According to him, this would be so, as a lot of Nigerians would own vessels and tankers and there would be ship building industries and it would come with it, a lot of backward integration in the economy.
Citing the gains attained in the telecom sector in Nigeria by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2001, Mr. Isichei recalled how miserable life was with Nigerians then as the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) was the only communication back bone in the country then with its attendant failures and disappointments.
He recalled that with the liberalization of the sector less than twenty years ago, people no longer need to visit people or queue up in a long row to make calls adding that this was the kind of impact maritime sector can make in Nigeria if well managed.
“Imagine what life will be now without GSM. Before now, you can travel from one place to the other to visit somebody and you get there, they will tell you the person just left. Before, if you want to call London or anywhere in the world, you have to go to NITEL of old to queue up. These are things that happened less than twenty years ago”.
“But our way of life had greatly been impacted. That is the impact that the maritime if well managed, if good policies are put in place and followed up, can have in the country so that we can replicate many Apapa ports and Apapa as an industrial area in different parts of the country”, Isichei said.