Nigeria’s new found ‘economic lingo’ though not new is actually drawing comments from the average citizen, including the uninitiated. You hear remarks like ‘what is all these noise about diversification. We did not start hearing that word today.’
‘Past regimes have talked about diversification but it did not take us anywhere.’
‘Diversification is not new in Nigeria as the purveyors of the word in this regime are making us believe. What I see is a situation where a section of the country is empowered at the expense of others.’
These thoughts expressed above gives those in authority an idea of how the average mind of the Nigerian works.
Why the government may mean well in encouraging the citizens to look inwards rather being import dependent, most Nigerians having been badly hit by hunger and poverty are not enthusiastic about that word. As far as they are concerned, the government should be more proactive about pursuing this agenda before majority of the citizens becomes the dead that cannot talk.
Moving forward, the plethora of advice for the government to think out of the box is almost becoming jaded. The question is; is this government a listening one? Do the authorities think that any other person apart from the inner caucus has any good thing to offer? Will the government take advice from anyone that does not belong to the platform of the ruling party? Is the government harbouring any hegemonic agenda that suppresses opposing voices or some form of vaulting ambition that overleaps itself and fall on the other? Does the government really mean well. Time will reveal this.
In getting the government to look at viable areas that could get the economy out of the woods now that oil, the biggest source of revenue for the country has collapsed, SHIPS AND PORTS DAILY suggests that the government takes a second look at Maritime as alternate source of revenue. Some maritime experts have shouted themselves hoarse in the past for governments to make giant attempt in this direction.
While some of the regimes made reasonable efforts, others scratched it at the surface without leaving serious legacy.
The opportunity has come again for the government to take more than cursory look at the maritime sector with a view to harnessing its vast potentials to turn around the economy.
Available indices show that Nigeria is blessed with a network of inland waterways that stretch the length and breadth of the country. Developed countries with such natural endowments have used them to fast-track industrialization and economic growth. Nigeria should do the same instead of focussing in one direction.
Suggested areas of opportunity are ship repairs, oil exploration, oil export and import, cargo import and export, short sea trade, fishing, support services including harbour maintenance. This has not been fully exploited.
Maritime is a huge revenue generator. Now that the price of oil is at rock bottom level, the government does not need any soothsayer to know that this is strategic area to focus now to deliver the country and its people. This is an area that can replace oil as a source of revenue for the government and can create jobs. The sector parades thousands of clearing agents, shipping companies and this enable job creation. Maritime is a very wide and huge sector. It is a good alternative to oil if the right approach is applied and if the right polices put in place.
To maximise this sector, the government must take advantage of the Local Content and the Cabotage Act which has remained underutilised. The Local Content Act came up based on the internal technical local content gaps identified within the oil and gas industry. This can achieve a lot if properly exploited.
Up till now experts have maintained that the Cabotage Act is the most important instrument that is capable of transforming the Nigerian maritime sector; technically and economically.
It has in place opportunity for indigenization of ship building, ship repairs, ship ownership and local capacity development. This law also has a major and very important provision, a set apart fund for maritime development in the form of Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund. This fund which has grown over the years is a great incentive for Nigerian engineers and technicians to build ships locally. Also, the funds can also be directed to enhance ship repair, acquire new ships that are cabotage-specific and enable new companies to benefit. This by all standards will transform the Nigerian maritime sector if the government must rise up now and take advantage of it.
It is vital that any serious-minded country must develop its own local content policy to exploit its potentials in maritime business. We know that over 80 percent of the global trade is transported by sea. The maritime industry is therefore a strategic industry which is an alternative to oil industry in Nigeria.
There is no reason why we cannot build and repair ships on our coastlines.
SHIPS AND PORTS DAILY believes that the relevant agencies of government engaged in the maritime sector can make more revenue than they make now from a fully developed, sustainable maritime sector.
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