The industry practitioners under the aegis of the Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (NPCC), at a roundtable gathering in Lagos during the week said the dwindling recourses and opportunities in the maritime industry which ranks second to oil revenue, portends reasons for worry, hence the current administration must act now.
Chairperson of the Council, Otunba Kunle Folarin at the roundtable on the Maritime sector and the port industry tagged ‘Setting Maritime Agenda for the Attainment of Vision 20:20 20′ said the Nigerian maritime industry had not been able to achieve its goals over the years.
According to him, the roundtable was not to criticize government but to set roadmap for the administration of President Buhari on the maritime industry.
He said, “We are coming against the backdrop of repositioning the maritime industry because in the last 20 years the maritime industry has seen gradual decline. Therefore, what we hope to achieve is to reposition and refocus the industry within the region.
“We are giving a road map and we are the pathfinders. The stakeholders are the owners of the industry. We are the only ones that can tell government what we need. We are the professionals; we are the practitioners. That is why the choice of delegate is deliberate. We want to give government a roadmap to create a pathfinder that will deliver, we do not want a situation where government will come and act in a vacuum. They will have a document and position that will drive the maritime economy and the industry.”
Otunba Folarin said after the roundtable discussion, a policy document would be presented to the government on how to drive the maritime industry.
“There must be a reference and it must come from discussion. There must be a document that will guide the industry. You cannot just create a policy without having to know what the stakeholders want; that is why we are discussing.
“We are trying to build the maritime sector; create a sector that will stand out within the region if not in Africa and beyond. That is what we are trying to do, trying to deposit a roadmap and a pathfinder to the promise land.
“If you look at the table, we have over 500 years of experience on the table; people who have lived all their lives in the maritime sector. That is what we are bringing to the table. It is a very formidable task that we are gathering these men and women in the room. That is what we are trying to do.
“We believe Nigeria is the largest country in both West and Central Africa; we have the largest coastline, the largest economic and maritime potentials but we have not been able to harness the potentials and that is why we are here.
“I can assure you that the discussion will not go through any intermediary. It is going straight to government and whoever represents government will get it.
“The document would be submitted on a fast track to the government. So, it will be submitted on a fast track to the government in the next two months.
“We won’t gather professionals with over 500 years of experience in the maritime industry and the report will at the end gather dust on the shelf of the President,” he said.
Participants present at the round table include the Acting President, Nigeria Shipowners Association (NISA), Alhaji Aminu Umar; President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun; former Chairman, Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX) Planning Committee, Barr. Margaret Onyema- Orakwusi; former Commissioner of Transport, Lagos State, Prof. Bamidele Badejo; University of Lagos Professor of Transport, Iyiola Oni; former Acting Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mrs. CFO Ezenwa; and former Managing Director, Eastern Ports, Mr. Felix Ovbude.
Others were Chief Executive Officer, Ships & Ports Limited, Bolaji Akinola; President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu and his counterpart in the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Eugene Nweke; maritime lawyers, Emeka Akabogu and Osuola Nwagbara among others.