Port Harcourt — The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, has called for the need to make the country to become a major maritime hub.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, speaking at the 2021 Correspondents’ Week in Port Harcourt, regretted that many Nigerians were sea blind, which means that they do not value the importance of the sea.
Jamoh speaking on the theme, “Survival of Journalists in Security and Economic Uncertainties in Nigeria: Focus on Strategic Reporting of the Maritime Sector”, urged journalists to begin to take interest in the sea, especially since the country was a coastal state.
He further explained that the concept of blue economy was to harness the wealth on the sea, such as transportation, food, shipping among others.
“With eight states that serve as window namely Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, Akwaibom, Cross Rivers and Bayelsa. More than ever before, we need to become a maritime hub as a nation. Now that will not happen without the help and the support of the press in ensuring that our maritime awareness becomes stronger.
“To a very large extent, there are people who argue that most Nigerians are sea blind. Sea blindness is an expression in the maritime context that essentially explains people who are surrounded by water, but do not appreciate the value that the ocean and the seas that they have brings to them economically.
“Maritime security, maritime safety, shipping development, all of these must become of great interest to you as journalists because only when you are interested in these things will you also begin to extend that awareness to your readers, to your listeners and your viewers.”
Jamoh represented at the event by his Special Assistant, Ubong Essien, said since fossil fuel business was gradually being phased out and unsustainable, maritime provides the right option for a sustainable economy.
He explained that if journalists do not take keen interest in the blue economy, it will be practically impossible for most Nigerians to be interested.
“It will interest you to even know that in international bodies and associations that deal with maritime business such as the Maritime Organizations for West and Central Africa, not only has coastal states but there are countries who don’t even have a single kilometer of water brushing their borders, but they are members.
“Why? Because the real wealth is in the waters, the environment surrounding the waters is wealth.
“There’s wealth on top of the waters, talk about transportation, if we are able to connect Lagos to Port Harcourt by water, most of us will never want to go by road and that is wealth; that’s why it’s called the blue economy, talk about inside and underneath the waters, marine life that provides for our food.
“Fish for instance is the cheapest source of protein and it provides over 50percent of our protein consumption, so if you take away fish from our diet, we are all in trouble. so we can go on and on and extrapolate the endless possibilities tied into the blue economy. Then talk about adjacent of existence to the oceans, coastal living and all of the possibilities.”
Earlier, the Chairman, Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Rivers State, Mr Amaechi Okonkwo, said the theme of the event was taken in order for journalists to reflect on their survivability in their practice.
“One of the few reasons is that for the first time we decided to take out time to consider our operations and survival in the current highly challenged society where we live and operate.
“This is because most often, the media and journalists pre-occupy themselves fighting, defending and liberating others, while being kept captive by many issues in their operational environment, both immediate and remote.”