Nigeria ought to be a great maritime nation but… Peterside

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The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has said that Nigeria ought to be a great country among the maritime nations as it has everything to become one.

Peterside who stated this on the sideline of the just concluded two-day Maritime Stakeholders’ Conference organized in Lagos last week by the Federal Ministry of Transportation with the theme,” Building a Sustainable Maritime Industry in Nigeria” regretted that it was unfortunate that the nation was not there .

He pointed out that Nigeria was endowed with the ocean that could take even the heaviest of vessels, a huge market, smart people as well as a lot of untapped potentials leaving people to wonder why it had to be so.

The NIMASA boss added that if the potentials were tapped, government had got the capacity and the capability of transforming Nigeria into a maritime hub which would in turn dovetail into economic development.

“I can do a few analysis, in the Philippines, you have over a million seafarers, on average vessel, a seafarer earns between $7000 and $10, 000 a day. Now, if you have a million seafarers earning $10, 000 a day, it can give you an idea of how much that can generate for a country.

“Let us even say in Nigeria we have about 600 cabotage registered vessels but don’t go to that calculation, just use 300 cabotage registered vessels for convenient sake and you have an average of between 50 and 100 persons on a vessel. Now, use the lower figure of 50 seafarers on a vessel, let us assume that they earn just $1000 on a vessel and if you have 50 persons on 300 vessels, that gives you about 1, 500 earning just $1000, of course, nobody can earn $1000, you will normally earn by far more than $1000 a day and that gives you how much? $1, 500, 000 daily, then multiply it by 365 days. It is quantum of money.

“Currently, it is untapped because we have a lot of foreigners onboard the vessels that are doing cabotage on the inland and coastal trade. What of the international sea going vessels? You are aware that there is no Nigerian flagged vessel that conveys our crude oil or our gas. That in itself is a negative impact on the nation.

“What of fisheries? We still import fish in the neighbourhood of more than $1.5 million annually and yet we have untapped potentials on our ocean and so, no matter how you look at it, indeed, Nigeria ought to be a great country in the maritime sector but we are not there”, he said.

He recalled that whereas 1000 ships berth in Singapore on daily basis, 5000 international going ships berth in Nigeria every year saying that what this meant was that the number of ships that berthed in Singapore in five days was what the country records in one year notwithstanding the fact that Nigeria’s population is more than 30 times if not 49 times the population of Singapore.

“Singapore’s size is not up to the size of Lagos and so Nigeria is 30 times the size of Singapore or 49 times the Singapore yet we have 1000 ships berth there every day whereas in Nigeria, you have 5000 international sea going vessels berth every year. You can see the gap. And so, there are so many works to be done in the area of regulation, in the area of capacity building and in the area of infrastructure”, he stated.

On the effect of corruption on the Nigerian maritime industry, he pointed out that corruption had been an impediment but quickly added that a lot was changing.

According to him,” In the sector, everybody acknowledges the fact that in NIMASA for example, a lot has changed. Those of you who are conversant with NIMASA can testify that it is not the NIMASA that they used to know. It is now a new NIMASA and it cuts across. In NIWA, I am sure things are changing, in the Nigerian Ports Authority, even from the era of concession, a lot has changed in terms of regulation, in terms of legislative oversight, in every aspects of the maritime sector, a lot is changing. Corruption used to be an issue but a lot is changing. There is a big phenomenal change in the sector”.

He however said that Nigerians should expect a maritime sector that aligned to their aspirations, that is effective and efficient, a maritime sector that offers limitless opportunities for the people, one that contributes to national economic growth, that serves Nigeria’s long term interest in trade development, in manufacturing and in just any area one could think of.

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