By Aisha Cole
The maritime sector can bail Nigeria out of economic recession if the Federal Government gives more attention to the sector, the League of Maritime Editors has said.
A statement made available to newsmen on Monday in Lagos said that the president of the League of Maritime Editors, Mr Ovie Edomi, spoke at a one-day seminar titled: “How to Improve Maritime and Allied Industries Revenue in a Depressed Economy’’.
Edomi said that even at hard times, the nation’s maritime industry had the potential to generate more revenue for the government.
He said that for this to be achieved, the government must be ready to make the necessary sacrifice.
Edomi said part of the measures would be for government to consider as fast as possible infrastructures rehabilitation at the nation’s ports in such a way that it impacted positively on the ease of doing business in Nigerian ports.
He said that efficiency in the ports system as a result of improved facilities would reduce cost of doing business in Nigeria and would in turn discourage those who had chosen to divert cargoes meant for Nigeria through the neighbouring ports.
Edomi said that all the agencies of government in the ports should wake up to their statutory responsibilities, adding that this would promote efficiency.
He said that this should include checking the excesses and arbitrary high charges by service providers, adding that this was one of the reasons why some Nigerian businessmen patronised the neighbouring ports.
“Once the facilities are working efficiently at affordable costs, the trend will in turn lead to improved revenue generation from the ports as more and more people will use the nation’s ports.
“It is pertinent for me to state at this stage that as editors and publishers, we saw this great nation in the era of oil boom to the extent that in the 70s, the Nigerian nation was thinking of what to do with her foreign reserves.’’
“Today the situation is different. The giant of Africa is in a recession.
“As editors and watchdog of the society, we believe that there are vast opportunities and resources in the maritime industry.
“In fact, after oil, the next highest source of generating revenue is the maritime industry.
“Some people argue that if Nigeria harnesses her maritime potential, the country can generate three times what it currently generated from oil,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Edomi as saying.
According to him, if the experts say this, as gatekeepers and agenda setters, we feel that policy makers need to take a second look at editorials, as well as opinions expressed by experts on the issue.
Edomi said that the lecture was part of the League’s contributions to economic development in the maritime sector by identifying ways in which the industry could improve on its revenue generation.
According to him, if the nation must achieve any economic reckoning in the vision 2020 framework, the country must not only create jobs and develop capacity, the seamless transition in the way image makers manage their bosses as well as the various agencies, institutions of government must be given deep consideration.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that it is committed to addressing all security issues in the nation’s territorial waters in order to boost maritime operations and achieve increased revenue generation.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, in a keynote address at the one-day lecture, said that it was because of the importance the agency attached to having a secured maritime domain that was responsible for its partnership with the Nigerian Navy and others to achieve the best.
The Deputy Director, Cabotage Service at NIMASA, who represented Peterside, Capt. Sunday Umoren, described security as key to maritime revenue generation.
Peterside said that without a secured maritime environment, vessels would shun Nigerian waters.
He said that the development would affect businesses and revenue from the sector.
Peterside said that once ship owners noticed that a country’s maritime domain was not secured, many of them would use the neighbouring ports, adding that this would promote transhipment at very high cost to the shippers and final consumers.
The director-general said that NIMASA had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Navy and others to ensure adequate security of ships coming into the country.
Also speaking, a Senior Lecturer in Babcock University, Ilisan Remo, Ogun, Dr Helen Adekoga, said that journalists reporting maritime industry should look inwards and report the potential of the industry that could attract foreign investors.
She said that if foreign investors could make Nigeria their ports of destination, it would increase revenue generation for government.
The don said that the media should focus on potentials of the industry and report them regularly to help in changing people’s perception so that revenue would be diverted from oil into the maritime sector.
“Revenue from maritime can triple what the country is getting from the oil sector if it is well utilised,’’ NAN quotes her as saying.
The Head, Corporate Communications Team of NIMASA, Hajia Lami Tumaka, commended the League of Maritime Editors for the efforts.
Tumaka advised the organisers not to be discouraged due to the recession, adding that one day, their efficiency would be rewarded.
“The recession the country is facing is affecting everybody. I will want the maritime media to report people’s views on solutions to the situation we found ourselves.
“The media should support NIMASA in searching for alternative means of getting revenue for government.
“It is encouraging now that every pieces of land nearby are being used for farming. I believe we will soon surmount the situation the country is going through,’’ NAN quotes her as saying.
Also the Zone `A’ Co-ordinator, Nigeria Customs, Service (NCS), Assistant Comptroller- General Eporwei Edike, urged traders, importers and clearing agents to comply with the laws and adhere to the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) regime.