The Governors of Lagos State and Ondo State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Thursday called on relevant stakeholders to prioritize the welfare of seafarers considering the economic value they add to the country.
The governors made the call in Lagos at a symposium themed, ‘Maritime Industry and Development of Nigeria – Connecting with our Heritage’ organized by Mission to Seafarers (MtS).
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Federick Oladeinde, lauded the activities of seafarers, which he said have tremendously turned the state to an economic hub for both the country and Africa.
According to him, “The maritime sector has always been a critical factor in the socioeconomic, physical and infrastructural growth and development of the global economy. It is on record that the earliest recorded commercial transactions across nations were carried out through maritime trade.
“It is significant that you have chosen to honor Lagos State, a state that accounts for a substantial portion of the maritime industry in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region. Lagos State with a physical land size of about 4,000 square kilometers is largely surrounded by water.
“The aquatic potentials available in Lagos exposed the state to intercontinental trade very many years ago and this has contributed in making it the cosmopolitan city that attracts people and trade from across the world.
“There is the urgent need for us as a government to address the needs and challenges of developing a virile maritime sector that will boost socioeconomic growth and development for the benefit of our people and regional integration of countries that are landlocked.
“The maritime industry is a veritable wealth generation and job creation platform which has continued to benefit many people including seafarers, merchant vessel operators, ship chandlers, import and export cargo brokers, among many other available and emerging opportunities.
“Our administration places a premium on the opportunities available to the state due to its littoral status and we have developed strategies, programmes and initiatives that will ensure the provision of adequate infrastructure and services to enhance maritime trade and transport in Lagos State.”
Expressing appreciation towards the unquantifiable impact of seafarers to the world economy, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Princess Oladunni Odu, said, “On daily basis, we benefit from your output and it is on record that 90% of world food, fuel, raw materials and manufactured goods are delivered by sea. Hence, the service of the seafarers are critical to these resources.
“We must therefore, thank you for running the global economy, risking your lives, leaving your families in order to satisfy us, daring various hazards and displeasures that come your way while carrying out your mandate which is germane to our survival.
“We thank you for your patriotic duties to us. It is, however, unfortunate that the maritime industry which is a critical sector of our economy that is playing a pivotal role in stabilizing and ensuring regional and national economic advancement through its daily engagement, has not been given the true recognition it deserves.”
Akeredolu said his government was working on building a deep seaport in Ondo State.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the management committee of the Mission to Seafarers, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, said the symposium was organized to intimate members of the public about the importance and plight of seafarers.
Sarumi charged government officials and all other individuals that are concerned to be awake to the need of the sea personnel especially when they are in the midst of loneliness on board.
Despite how their activities amount to 90% of the world trade, Sarumi, however noted that the welfare of seafarers is being handled with negligence.
“The essence of this symposium is to inform the public about what the seafarers do. We have to look into the welfare of the seafarers. The seafarers we all know by now are the people who work on ships and these are people that carry trade round the whole world.
“And when we say trade, it is exchange of goods and services. They are the ones that carry them round the whole world. They are not the only ones but they carry 90% of it, maybe airlines carry the remaining.
“These individuals, even though they are extremely essential workers in the entire world, are not treated with the amount of respect, the amount of consideration, with the amount of care that should go to such people who keep the entire world economy running and our duty and all other 200 stations around the world in not less than 56 countries, is to call attention locally and internationally to the plight of these people and to see how we can prevent them from continuing to suffer as they work in the best interest of the world trade,” he said.