Ignorance of the highly-technical nature of shipping by government officials at the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Presidency has been diagnosed as the major problem facing the sector in Nigeria.
Giving this diagnosis, a Lagos-based maritime consultant and founding member of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS), Mr. Oke Maduegbuna, described Nigerian shipping laws as “just regulations.”
He said: “When we talk about shipping laws, you sit down and formulate a maritime doctrine: what do you want to achieve in the next 30 years as a shipping/maritime nation? Then you set out a maritime strategy which will govern civil and military administration of maritime/shipping. It is from this bedrock that you get the dynamics of how to go about it: you pool resources, acquire knowledge and skills, and then develop how to market yourself. So, it’s not a matter of having laws without having policies. You must first have erudition before you can think out ideas and then make policies. From that, you can go to programmes.”
On the stakeholders that he is accusing of alleged lack shipping acumen, Maduegbuna toldMARITIME DIGEST, the in-house publication of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping that this starts at the Presidency, where, according to him, they lack the right understanding and then the Ministry of Transport, which do not also grasp its essence.
He said: “If you visit the Ministry, you would see people who are not versed in the industry running the place. Whereas, in UK (United Kingdom) or USA (United States of America), their transport departments are populated by technocrats not civil servants or career officers who rose from Ministry of Finance or Prisons or Police Affairs to become Directors of Maritime or Permanent Secretaries in a highly-skilled area like shipping.”