…Lauds NIMASA’s Blue Economy launch to end Nigeria’s mono-economy status
…Asks agency to lap on state’s Sea School to train seafarers
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Rivers, Nigerian oil-rich sub-national asks the leadership of the country’s maritime regulatory body, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to return its Cabotage Services Department back to Port Harcourt, the state’s capital and Nigeria’s oil hub.
According to Governor Nyesom Wike, when he received the incumbent Director General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, the operations of NIMASA’s Cabotage Services Department used to be in Port Harcourt, but was taken to Lagos without justification.
“We had a Cabotage Department here on Tombia Street, GRA Phase II. Your people moved it to Lagos. Is there any offence that Rivers State has committed against Nigeria? You may know, I don’t know of any offence any person can say we have committed,” Governor Wike queried.
He said, despite his administration’s procurement of gunboats for the security agencies, particularly, the Police and Navy to assist them fight sea piracy and to ensure safety on the waterways for the business activities of NIMASA to thrive, the state does not get anything in return.
He however, commended new NIMASA’s new DG who replaced a homeboy, Dakuku Peterside, for the new initiative of harnessing ocean resources to serve as alternative revenue source that will end Nigeria’s mono-economy status.
“Let me thank you as one of those who have looked into the future that Nigeria cannot continue to depend solely on one product: oil. There comes a time that the wells will dry up, and when the wells are dried, what is the alternative? Is it at that time we will begin to seek for an alternative? So, you are on the right track by identifying that we should go for blue economy.”
Governor Wike pledged to partner the agency in the area of human capital development, and told them to consider adopting the Government Sea School, Isaka as institution to train seafarers.
“We have Sea School, Isaka in Okrika Local Government. It is a good place to train seafarers. That is the first Sea School in this country. There is nothing wrong for you to partner with the state government to develop it. When they are trained, you can then move them as your seafarers to work in your maritime industry. Let us not abandon old things and begin to create new ones. Let’s develop the ones we have. Let us not be spending money in something that will take a long time. This will help the industry and create a lot of manpower for our people and employment,” Governor Wike said.
He also expressed the readiness of the State government to partner with NIMASA on its Deep Blue project, because of its potential to enhance and increase youth capacity in the state. According to him, the State government will constitute a committee that will liaise with NIMASA office in Port Harcourt on the Deep Blue Project.
Governor Wike bemoaned the failure of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi to leverage on his vantage position to revive the Port Harcourt and Onne ports in order to generate employment opportunities for the youths in the maritime sector.
Jamoh, the NIMASA boss, said the agency’s new thinking is in the direction of divesting the country’s economy with its 10-year plan to develop ocean resources in the country. He explained that his tour of eight littoral states, including Rivers, is intended to sell the new thinking to them, to key into the initiative.
He urged the Rivers state government to set up a committee to work with the agency in identifying its areas of comparative advantage in harnessing its vast ocean resources.
“The agency commenced the issue of Blue Economy to ensure that we have something that we will fall back on. Let us give ourselves at least within the next 10 years, we can be able to develop our ocean resources,” Jamoh said.