President Muhammadu Buhari has said the Federal Government is repositioning the maritime sector to become Nigeria’s economic driver.
Buhari made the commitment yesterday in Abuja at the launch of a book ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Maritime Assets – Past, Present and Future’, written by Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The president, who was represented by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said the Nigerian maritime sector boasts of a rich and barely untapped assets, pointing out that with reforms and proper investments in the sector, the country will grow exponentially.
According to him, the reforms have already started with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which has been so far transformed from a contract-awarding agency to the true industry regulator it was created to be.
He noted that poor attention paid to the sector by past administrations robbed it of the capacity to effectively play a pivotal role in national economic development.
He assured that all would be done to grow the sector, especially in the urgent task of boosting non-oil revenue sources.
According to president Buhari, the cabotage funds are being kept and would be appropriately spent at the right time, for the purpose it was created.
“We will not bring the cabotage fund out to be shared. The previous administration blew the cabotage fund. There’s a new NIMASA in place today. It’s not a contract awarding agency. Cabotage money was spent on maritime faculties here and there in many universities and yet we really have nothing to show for all these huge spending”, he said.
“There was affluence with the former NIMASA DG which is not available today. This is a different era. A lot of people ask this current DG why he’s not spending like his predecessor”, he noted.
“We inherited a wrecked economy where sharing money was the basic survival of it. Read the book, it’ll improve you”, he said.
In his goodwill message, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, said the writer remained a strong resource person in the maritime sector.
He urged Nigerians to read the book to get some knowledge of the workings of the sector.
Also speaking, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, said the book was rich and encapsulated ways of taking the sector to the next level.
Buratai said the Nigerian Army has been protecting the maritime assets of Nigeria for several decades and will continue to do so. “Security is vital to making the Nigerian maritime assets work. I urge NIMASA not to forget the Lake Chad region as it is a gold mine.
“We’re working hard to tackle the security challenges and stabilize the region. The Lake Chad can compete with coastal areas. We want NIMASA to carry out further research to see what we have and what we can harness in the Lake Chad region”, the Army Chief said.