By GODFREY BIVBERE
President Goodluck Jonathan has blamed the failure of the Cabotage Law on inadequate manpower in the maritime sector, stressing that the establishment of the Maritime University in Okerenkoko will bridge the gap.
Jonathan who disclosed this at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Nigerian Maritime University and the NIMASA Shipyard at Okerenkoko, Delta State, also lamented the state of affairs in the sector.
According to him, “We have the Cabotage Law that should provide a lot of privileges to Nigerians but we are not maximizing the gains we are supposed to get in the maritime industry. This is because we don’t have the requisite manpower needed to drive the act.
“From the beginning, this country started so well in the maritime sector but we laid back and so many countries that we were ahead of when we had shipping lines going all over the world, have overtook us.
“They overtook us because we are not maximising the gains we are supposed to get in the maritime industry and this was due to the fact that we don’t have the manpower,” he said.
President Jonathan assured indigenous operators in the maritime industry of adequate government attention and protection. He said the federal government plans to introduce a new economic concept that will also support the growth of the maritime industry.
“There is a new terminology called the blue economy coming up. It will talk about how we will marry our maritime resources for the gain of the society, from transportation to fisheries and others,” he added. The President also warned those involved in illegal oil bunkering to desist from the act or face the full weight of the law.
Jonathan, who admitted that elimination of illegal oil bunkering in the country might be difficult, accused some influential people of sponsoring the illegal business. He commended NIMASA for initiating the Maritime University and Shipyard and projects.
The president said the new university will place the nation’s maritime industry at par with those of its leading counterparts in the world and also enhance the nation’s economic growth.