The federal government has raised the alarm that the nation’s maritime industry has come under siege from criminal elements who perpetuate various crimes on Nigeria’s territorial waters.
Statistics has shown that the maritime component of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is worth an estimated $8 billion alongside seaborne transportation, oceanic extractive resource exploitation and export processing zones. But, speaking yesterday at the 2018 World Maritime Day celebration tagged IMO 70: Our Heritage, Better Shipping For the Better Future” held in Lagos, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Barr. Boss Mustapha said the nation’s maritime industry must be protected from criminals to attract foreign investors and also preserve Nigeria‘s territorial integrity.
Mustapha who was represented by the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Honorable Mustapha Baba Shehuri said insecurity and maritime crime on the nation’s territorial water have eroded the gains of the port concessioning, dredging and amnesty embarked upon by the government in the country.
He also said that the development has forced shipping companies to seek government’s approval to enter Nigeria territorial waters with onboard armed security men. He said: “The maritime industry in Nigeria and globally has come under siege by criminal elements who orchestrate acts of piracy, sea robbery, arms proliferation, crude oil theft, terrorism, migration, illegal and unregulated fishing and oil theft in the Gulf of Guinea and within Nigeria’s territorial waters. “The gains recorded via dredging, amnesty and port concession exercises in Nigeria nosedived due to this unfortunate scenario thus compelling some foreign shipping companies to request for Government’s approval to enter Nigeria’s territorial waters with armed security personnel onboard. “Maritime crime is an organised one with elements all over the world. We must therefore drum up the need for regional and sub-regional collaboration at NO meetings and at other fora, for integrated maritime security strategies in addressing the challenges of insecurity. The maritime domain is vulnerable and ensuring its security is certainly beyond the capacity of one country or any existing regional body acting alone. “Thankfully, the government is not taking the issue of safety and security in the Maritime sector lightly. Like the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg, the maritime industry must be protected to attract foreign investors and also preserve Nigeria‘s territorial integrity. “Mustapha however commended the federal ministry of Transportation for confronting the piracy scourge with the award of Integrated National Security and Water Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria under the Deep Blue Project.
“Permit me to commend the Federal Ministry of Transportation for confronting the matter with all the seriousness it deserves. I am aware that a contract has been awarded for the lntegrated National Security and Water Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria under the Deep Blue Project. “This project entails the provision of security infrastructure and training of personnel for the protection of Nigeria’s maritime domain. lt is envisaged that this project will comprehensively address the emerging cases of insecurity in the maritime industry and restore investors’ confidence. “The treasures for our future growth and development lie in an improved shipping environment where safety and security of goods, services, seafarers and the shipping community as a whole is guaranteed. The lMO has been resolute in evolving strategies to facilitate efficient shipping and member countries should cultivate the benefits of the Blue Economy concept through creativity, innovativeness and collaboration,” he said. Speaking earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi also disclosed that as much as illegal maritime activities go on in the nation’s territorial waters, the benefits of shipping will keep eluding Nigeria. Amaechi said, “It is worthy to note that for effective contribution of shipping activities to the development of Nigeria’s economy, there is urgent need to curb and combat these illegal maritime activities in our waters as these crimes continue to constitute impediments to economic development. “As long as these crimes continue to pose danger to the Gulf of Guinea and our maritime domain, the benefits of the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day celebration will continue to be elusive. “Concerted efforts are being made by this administration to strengthen the institutional capabilities of Agencies responsible for providing maritime security in Nigeria’s maritime domain and around the Gulf of Guinea region. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved the procurement of new security architecture for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which involves the acquisition of new platforms and other logistics required to enable the Agency perform its statutory functions of securing the Nigerian waters in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy.”
The former governor of River State further stated that a safe, secure and efficient shipping industry will surely revitalize and diversify the economy of Nigeria away from crude oil exploration to a maritime hub.
“The importance of ensuring a safe maritime domain cannot be over emphasized. A safe, secure and efficient shipping industry will surely revitalize and diversify the economy of Nigeria away from crude oil exploration to a maritime hub.
“Therefore, the promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development as expressed in the theme of this year’s celebration will stimulate the development of new technologies and innovation, agile maritime security platforms and the development of the maritime infrastructure.” “Nigeria enjoys a larger share in the movement of these cargoes, due to its location along the Gulf of Guinea which is a transit and strategic route for movement of most cargoes across Africa. “Though, the route has witnessed a lot of maritime crimes, which has affected shipping activities around me region, it is imperative that the route is secured to fully harness the benefits of maritime.”
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