The League of Maritime Editors (LOME) has called on the federal government to disburse the over $350 million Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) to indigenous ship owners to grow local capacity in the country.
The President of LOME, Chief Timothy Okorocha made the call on the occasion of the association’s Silver Jubilee held in Lagos on Thursday.
Okorocha urged President Bola Tinubu to provide the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, the needed impetus to bring to an end, the unending rat race of the disbursement of the CVFF, established in 2003; to jump start a new lease of life for the capacity development of the indigenous ship owners.
This, he said, would enable Nigeria to participate meaningfully in her seaborne trade and especially with the proposed commencement of the implementation policy of the blue economy.
“As insiders, the League over the years has seen the genuine struggle by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and its leadership, especially under the present administration to disburse the CVFF in its commitment to grow local capacity building, but observe the otherwise disruptive tendencies within the field of political play.
“We appeal to Mr. President to use his good office to prevail on the relevant authorities to respond to the needs of our industry as there can be no better time than now. We also salute Mr. President’s bold steps and visionary outlook and do hereby with utmost respect urge him to exercise the required political will to push farther by ensuring that the often routine talk about the rehabilitation of collapsed critical port infrastructure receives urgent executive attention.”
He added, “As development partners, the League looks forward to the effective participation of the respective agencies in the current administration’s renewed agenda template; and want to see the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) move away from the ritual of endless talk and lamentable into doing the needful, the reconstruction of broken down asset and infrastructure.”
Okorocha, urged the ministry to be more sector specific in their programmes and to partner with stakeholders as at when necessary, to avoid creating gaps.
Speaking on the theme of the event, ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential In Marine and Blue Economy/The New Customs Act And Its Implication On Trade,’ a maritime expert, Dr Charles Okoroefe, urged the government to put mercenaries in place to fully harness the numerous potentials inherent in the blue economy.
He said several elements of the marine and blue economy need to be fully harnessed to provide more employment and financial buoyancy for the economy.
He highlighted the key areas to include; Deepsea mining, Marine tourism, Shipping and port operations, Renewable energy, and Fishery, among others.
According to him, “A lot of our youths are still jobless, so we need to exploit all these areas to ensure that the necessary jobs are created while wealth is also created for the economy.”
Okerefe, who is also a lecturer at Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN Oron) however, emphasised that training is also very important in turning the potential into reality.
He urged the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy to synergize with the Ministries of Agriculture, Ministry of Power and Tourism in order to realise the potentials of his new ministry.
“How prepared are we to go the extra mile to get these things in place so that Nigeria can record her name among countries that have developed echo tourism?
“The Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy has to liase with the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Power, and the Ministry of Tourism for it to succeed in harnessing ocean resources, they cannot do it alone.
“The parastatals under the Ministry has to be put on their toes because a lot is on the table to offer,” he said.
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi who was represented by Tin Can Island Port Area Controller, Comptroller Dera Nnadi spoke on the new Customs Act Act its implication on trade.
According to him, “The new law introduces tariff incentives for businesses engaging in environmental friendly practices within the blue economy. This encourages the adoption of sustainable fishing methods, responsible acqua culture and friendly shipping practices which is the bane of international trade. It enhances surveillance of Maritime activities.
“The new face of Customs is one where technology is used to address issues of international trade and border management. This is going to form the theme of the CG Conference holding in Lagos next week”
Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola who was represented by Director, Press and Public Relations, Olujimi Oyetomi assured the ministry’s commitment to work with all stakeholders to exploit the potentials of the blue economy.
L-R: President, League of Maritime Editors (LOME), Chief Timothy Okorocha; representative of the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr. Olujimi Oyetomi; and Former ANLCA President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu at the LOME 25th year anniversary in Lagos on Thursday.