Lagos — The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, has stated that safety and security of the nation’s maritime domain, tackling illegal fishing and harnessing marine tourism are top of his agenda in the new ministry which he heads/
He stated this during a working visit to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, headquarters in Lagos, where he met with the top management staff of the agency.
The minister said the time has come for Nigeria to fully harness its vast potential in the maritime sector, noting that the working visit was to ascertain and properly appraise the situation of things so as to take practical steps and measures towards maximising the available opportunities.
He said: “Today, we have come to see some of the things you told us in Abuja and to properly appraise the situation of things to take practical steps towards addressing them. I am particularly interested in the NIMASA Modular Floating Dock because of its potential to generate employment and stem capital flight. But we must find a way of ensuring stakeholders’ buy-in, in whatever we do so that we are seen to be working together for the growth and development of Nigeria”.
Speaking further, the Minister noted that it was time for Nigeria to float a national carrier, stressing that through a Public-Private-Partnership, PPP, arrangement, and the support of stakeholders, such a plan would be achieved in the interest of the maritime industry and Nigeria as a whole.
He maintained that management of the resources of Nigeria’s Marine and Blue Economy entailed proactive, smart, and strategic thinking and called for the rediscovery, harnessing, and packaging of the nation’s maritime resources, including seafood, in line with all associated international standards and specifications.
The Minister, who complained about foreign dominance of the fishing industry, assured that under his watch it will no longer be business as usual.
He said: “According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the fisheries sector contributed 1.09% of the country’s total GDP in the year 2020 and 0.9% in the Q3 of 2021. We are regarded as a net importer of fishery products. But we are determined to change the narrative by putting in place measures to make Nigeria a major player in that regard”.
Oyetola stressed that the safety and security of the maritime corridors of Nigeria was a priority area in his agenda for the ministry, noting that without safety and security, there can never be a meaningful achievement in the industry. He added that with the rich endowments of her marine and blue economy, Nigeria had no justification not to develop marine tourism, which is a revenue-spinner for most countries, especially at the period when diversification of the economy from oil was sacrosanct.
According to Him, Nigeria makes up about 853 kilometers of the estimated 47,000 kilometers of coastline in Africa.
“Nigeria has one of the largest wetlands in the world, with its coastal and marine ecosystems covering a total of 70,000 square kilometers. There are countries around the world that rely solely on earnings from the tourism sector. Here in Nigeria, we also have what it takes to attract tourists to the waters. Therefore, we shall be developing the infrastructure in cities and towns that are lake or coastal-facing for this purpose,” he said.
The Minister commended the management of NIMASA under the leadership of Dr. Bashir Jamoh, for the grit and determination in ensuring that the agency fulfills its mandates. He noted that he had full confidence in the capabilities and dedication of the agency’s management and stated that he looked forward to witnessing the continued success of NIMASA in shaping the future of the country’s maritime sector, reiterating that together, a thriving marine and blue economy that benefits everyone can be actualized.
Jamoh, in his opening remarks, had welcomed the Minister to the agency, declaring that his appointment was unique and timely. He noted that the uniqueness of the Minister’s appointment was based on the industry and stakeholders’ clamors for independence, and the magnanimity of the president to create the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.
During the visit, the minister also inspected the NIMASA headquarters,, the NIMASA Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence, C4i Centre, NIMASA e-library, the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, GMDSS, radio room, Marine Environment Management Laboratory, Search and Rescue Base Clinic and the NIMASA Skill Acquisition Centre in Apapa, Lagos.