The President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners,NAMM, Captain Tajudeen Alao has urged the pioneer Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola to endeavor to surround himself with technocrats, stakeholders and practitioners who had practised long enough in the industry so that he can be well advised.
Alao who made this submission in a chat with Primetime Reporters in Lagos on Tuesday said that although the Minister was not a maritime practitioner, the industry practitioners welcomed him and were prepared to work with him while praying that he surrounds himself with experienced people who he said were abound in the industry.
Arguing that appointing a maritime practitioner would have been better, the NAMM President, however, said, “the person we have, we have to welcome him but we advise him to surround himself with technocrats so that he can be advised rightly.”
Asked what is difficult in appointing a technocrat to man the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry, he said, “There is nothing difficult because there are politicians within the industry that could be beckoned on but having said that, it’s a political decision within the party but let him surround himself with experienced people in the business.”
Captain Alao, thereafter described the creation of the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry as answer to the many years of yearning and prayers by the maritime industry stakeholders noting that with this development, the industry would now receive the required attention that it deserved. He, however, urged all industry stakeholders to come together to foster the growth of the industry since it’s now on its own.
“The government has shown the importance of this industry to the economy of Nigeria. So, it’s now left for us to cry because when the rail, the road, the aviation sectors were under the same ministry, all of them were crying for the attention of the ministry. But now, it’s the maritime sector alone crying for the attention of the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry. So, it can get all the attention of the ministry”, he said.
Aware that the contributions of the maritime sector in Nigeria to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP had never been captured by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, Captain Alao assured that with the creation of the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry, it would be given a pride of place going forward.
“Nobody reckons with it, it was shrouded in oil and gas because they are getting free money from somewhere. Going forward, we are to see the maritime contributions to the GDP because if they want to dredge the River Niger, it will not take 30 years. So, with this creation, definitely, attention will be focused on the Marine and Blue Economy and what we can gain.
“The most important thing is the sustainable harnessing of these resources so that the negative effect will not counter the positive effect and that is why we need professionals, technocrats, those who have committed their lives and resources to the industry to be there before they go away”, he said.
He went on to submit that the industry stakeholders were not utilizing the potentials of the industry to the maximum which he said was affecting everybody, recalling that Nigeria as a country was a centre of attraction to shipping in the whole of West Africa as according to him, all road leads to Nigeria in the good old days.
Pointing out that many big ship owners today, especially the Greek and so many other companies grew up from Nigeria, he regretted that Nigeria and Nigerians had lost their grips on shipping agency business in which they were doing well adding that foreign companies were now the ones running shipping agency whereas it should be Nigerian companies running it because it’s a lot of money and a lot of economic activities within the shipping husbandry.
Alao maintained that shipping agency business should be returned back to Nigerians so that they would not only earn a living but they can also learn and be up to date with international shipping business.
On whether there’s the need to still appoint a Special Assistant to the President on Maritime Affairs now that the industry had a ministry of its own, he said, “Both the Minister and Special Assistant are required because of the economic importance of the industry, its contributions to the Gross Domestic Product of the economy. It’s a big industry and we should not use basket to cover it up.”
Photo: Captain Tajudeen Alao, President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, NAMM.
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