By Godfrey Bivbere
The Federal Government is working towards generating over N4.6 billion ($15 million) annually from the huge potentials in the maritime industry, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, has said.
Speaking at a function held in Lagos, the NPA boss said the federal government knows the potential of the maritime sector and has put in place measures through its various agencies to fully exploit the sector.
Usman who disclosed this at the presentation of the book “Footprints of President Muhammadu Buhari in the Maritime Sector,” noted that the Federal Government had no illusions as to the importance of the maritime sector from the outset.
Usman who was represented by the Executive Director, Marine and operations, Sekonte Davies, said “Nigerian ports are a major gateway into the country with over 85 per cent of all the goods and services coming into the country exploiting facilities at the nation’s seaports with an aggregate value exceeding the $15billion mark annually.
“This is more so for us in Nigeria where, as we said earlier the maritime sector is a significant contributor to national growth with yet untapped potentials to do more.
“For most countries, developed and developing ones alike, incomes from maritime operations represent an enormous revenue line, the sort of which funds significant capital projects and social security systems. Singapore’s maritime industry, as an example, contributes about seven per cent to the country’s $300 billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“This administration understood that Nigeria must aspire for as much and even greater and a lot of this has to do with how much of integrity we are able to bring into our practices.
“So, one of the greatest things this administration has achieved is in the area of transparency. From the Nigerian Ports Authority where we decided to open our budget to the public with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with BUDGIT Open Budget System Platform, to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which launched a massive rebranding strategy to rebuild confidence and the Nigerian Customs Service that has posted unprecedented revenue returns in the course of the past three and a half years.
“This administration has been deliberate about entrenching a culture of transparency and giving all stakeholders a sense of trust in the system which did not exist before 2015.
“A lot has also been done in the area of maritime security, NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy work round the clock to reduce the incidence of piracy. They have even gone ahead to form partnerships with other countries in the Gulf of Guinea region to ensure the safety of ships and crews on Nigerian waters.
“A fall out of this was the President’s visit to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in 2017 for the signing of an agreement on Integrated National Security Strategy to stem the tide of insecurity on the region’s territorial waterways.
“NIMASA has invested heavily in a satellite Monitoring and Surveillance System while the Navy has not only increased the frequency of patrols on the waters; it has also deployed 39 newly produced gunboats and the second indigenous Seaward Defence Boat for surveillance purposes.
“Discussions are also constantly ongoing with host communities and other stakeholders about the inimical effect of insecurity on our waters. All of these are yielding positive effects,” she noted.