Lagos — Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, has said the National Maritime Transport Policy being developed by Nigeria would lead to improved Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, inflow and enhance the ability of the Nigerian maritime sector to compete internationally.
Speaking at the opening of a stakeholders’ validation forum on the draft policy in Lagos last week, Saraki said the transport policy would give Nigeria pride of place in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Saraki underscored the strategic economic importance of maritime transportation, saying adoption of the transport policy would mark a paradigm shift in Nigeria’s economic competitiveness.
The minister who was represented by Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, stated: “The National Maritime Transport Policy is a framework that will guide and sharpen the activities, actors and modus operandi in the maritime sector. It is an all-encompassing document that will skyrocket the sector to compete favourably in the global market. That is why this document is extremely important and crucial to the development of the sector.”
She said the policy, which industry stakeholders had clamored for nearly two decades, “will change the narrative in the maritime sector of our dear country and result in a paradigm shift that is generational.”
Saraki added, “It is encouraging to know that the maritime policy is coming up at a time when Nigeria has ratified the AfCTA Agreement and deposited it with the AU Secretariat. This is an agreement that will place Nigeria in place of leadership if we adequately prepare for the protocols. Therefore, it is expedient for us to make the maritime sector ready for the AfCFTA Transit Protocols and other international protocols for us to compete favourably in the regional and global market.”
In the same development, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, has described the much anticipated policy, as the key to unlocking the huge potentials and vast opportunities in the nation’s blue economy.
According to her, a well articulated National Maritime Transport Policy would support local content development, create good value jobs and attract high impact direct foreign investments within the context of the Federal Government’s Economic Growth and Sustainability agenda.
She stated: “We look forward to a policy with clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) that would guide our various operations, that would be strengthened by critical legal frame work and legislation from the National Assembly”
“The policy should engender a competitive maritime domain with clear rules on institutional governance, service capacity and accountability.”
Meanwhile, stakeholders in the maritime industry have endorsed the document with a view to making the nation’s maritime industry more efficient and cost effective.
Speaking at the policy validation meeting, Chairman of the Nigerian Port Consultative Council, Otunba Kunle Folarin, said that the policy document will bring about a more structured and regulated maritime industry.
Folarin called on the lawmakers present at the meeting to take a look at the maritime laws waiting to be passed into law and do the needful as soon as possible.
He said, ‘‘With this very good document before us today, I believe the prosperity of this nation has been opened.’’
Chairman of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, Dr. McGeorge Onyong, saying that the global maritime is a USD6trillion annual revenue industry added that Nigeria need to be part of it and this policy will help in taking it there.
The Director General of the African Ship Owners Association, Ms Folorunsho Alakija, said that the policy will make Nigeria take its rightful place in the comity of maritime nations.