The Federal Government has expressed deep concern over the activities of pirates and other robbery attacks on the nation’s territorial waters and Gulf of Guinea.
The government also lamented over the issues of crude oil theft, terrorism, migration, illegal and unregulated fishing in the Gulf of Guinea and Nigerian waters.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha and the Transportation Minister, Hon Rotimi Amaechi who spoke on the occasion of the World Maritime Day in Lagos said that these were despite the achievements recorded in the industry.
Mustapha said that these issues have affected the gains recorded in the areas of dredging, amnesty and port concession exercises, adding that the situation has been so bad that some shipping companies now request for approval to enter Nigeria’s waters with their own private security on board ships.
Mustapha who was represented by the Minister of State for Works, Power and Housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri however said the port concession exercise has had positive effect with job creation and a lot opportunities in the maritime industry.
According to him, It was reported that within six years of the port concession, private operators had employed over 48,000 Nigerians against a little over 14,000 before the policy shift. These are, of course, notable achievements which we need to consolidate further.
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. Permit me to commend the Fedora! Ministry of Transportation for confronting the matter with the seriousness it deserves.
I am aware that a contract has been awarded for the Integrated National Security and Water Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria under the Deep Blue Project. This project entails the provision of security infrastructure and the training of personnel for the protection of Nigeria’s maritime domain. it is envisaged that this project will comprehensively address the emerging cases of insecurity in the maritime industry and restore investors confidence.
On his part, Amaechi who lamented over the activities of the criminals on the Nigeria’s territorial waters and Gulf of Guinea stated that government has been making efforts to strengthen the institutional capabilities of agencies responsible for provision of maritime security in Nigeria’s maritime domain and in the area Gulf of Guinea.
Amaechi said, “statistics show a total freight cost estimate of between $5 billion and $6 billion annually, while the maritime component of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is worth an estimated $8 billion alongside seabome transportation, oceanic extractive resource exploitation and export processing zones.
“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.
“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 to perform its statutory functions of securing the Nigerian waters in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy.
“The importance of ensuring a safe maritime domain cannot be overemphasized. 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.”