Maritime lawyer, Olisa Agbakoba has asked the Federal Government to create a Ministry fully dedicated to the maritime sector.
“If there was a Minister of Shipping, the Minister would have pursued the Transport bill; Ports and Harbours bill and other bills that would move the sector forward in the national assembly,” he said.
At a press briefing held in his office yesterday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria also called for what he termed a Maritime Action Plan (MAP) to boost efficiency and growth of the maritime industry.
The former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President also reiterated his earlier call for the unbundling of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Administration (NIMASA), an agency he argues should focus only on maritime safety and security.
He said, “Why don’t we have very senior government officials as the head of our industry? We have Minister of Transport that oversees the whole of the sector but also, we have the Ministry of Aviation but if we are to ask, which is bigger of the two agencies (aviation and maritime sector), then why don’t we have a Minister of Shipping or Maritime?
“We need to call attention of people who make policy to the huge potentials in the industry. As an active actor, I think the problem is simple and actors in the sector need to call for attention.
“Our role as stakeholders is to continue to put it at the top of the agenda what we want to do differently from the past and that is to have a cohesive action plan to drive the maritime industry.
“Nigeria requires a practical and holistic plan to address myriad of challenges facing her maritime industry and to harness the potentials for the benefit of the nation.
“The challenges in the sector are enormous and multifaceted. That includes access to credit financing, obsolete or ineffective laws, poor infrastructure and human capacity.”
Agbakoba said maritime sector stakeholders must demand for programmes of action for the industry from the two leading presidential candidates in the March 28 2015 general elections.
“Shippers should ask both of the presidential candidates that if they want their votes, what would they do for the industry.
“We need to know that there are mafias in the sector which is in their interest to keep Nigerian ships out of Nigerian waters. It is in their interest to allow foreign vessels control our Cabotage trade, to the detriment of the industry.
“But, we can turn it around by getting the ears of a presidential candidate who is Nigeria-centric, who understands national content and will move the industry forward,” he said.
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