The nation’s maritime industry is capable of transforming the national economy if the potentials of the industry are properly harnessed, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, has said.
Bello said that the maritime industry is one that impacts on nearly every other sector of the national economy, adding that it cannot be over-emphasised that the industry is a powerful tool for achieving the much-desired transformation of the economy.
In a lecture organised to honour the former Head of State, Chief Ernest Shonekan, at 77 in Lagos at the weekend, Bello argued that without the maritime transport and its invaluable support, the Nigerian economy would remain in the doldrums.
He opined that if effectively managed and operated, the maritime industry will boost the nation’s economy by serving as a catalyst for the growth of some other major sectors; thus creating the needed jobs for the army of unemployed youths in the country.
He pointed out that the sector was capable of saving the nation huge foreign exchange through indigenous participation, boosting government revenues and spurring foreign direct investment in the economy.
“It is therefore imperative that we should tap the enormous potentials abounding in this vital industry to transform the nation by leveraging on its inherent wealth of resources and ability to act as a catalyst to promote the growth of other sector of the economy”, he said.
He called on the federal government to create an enabling environment necessary for all stakeholders in the maritime sector to thrive while effectively monitoring and implementing set goals in the sector.
“Government should make the right pronouncements and policies that will drive the development of the sector because of the important role of maritime to the nation’s economy”.
He said for any maritime nation, maritime activities constitute a significant component of the tools for economic growth and national development, adding, “the maritime industry holds the key to rapid transformation of the economy of coastal states and communities”.
He added, “It is a known fact that Nigeria is an important maritime nation. We are endowed with an extensive coastline which is supported by an expansive hinterland and a vibrant economy. The nation’s location on the map of Africa gives her added advantage as a sizeable portion of her boundary is exposed to the Atlantic Ocean from Lagos to Calabar. It is noteworthy that this remarkable endowment lured the colonial masters to the country and they exploited it to the full when they were here.
“The maritime industry has been able to provide channels for flourishing international trade and investments between Nigeria and other nations. It is also capable of becoming the second highest source of gross earnings (GDP) to our economy if properly promoted and managed.
“Some tremendous positive developments have occurred in the industry in recent years, especially in terms of the opening up of the industry to private sector investors, a move that attests to the remarkable opportunities abounding in the sector for entrepreneurs.
“In Nigeria investment in the maritime sector is said to account for about 90 per cent of the global transportation requirement for the nation. The sector remains a critical infrastructure supporting the nation's economy especially her international trade”.
He said Nigeria has been acknowledged as an important emerging economy, a development, which, according to him, calls for “transparency, openness, standardisation, strong private sector participation quality of goods and services and every factor in tandem with global best practices”.
Bello paid glowing tribute to Shonekan, wishing him happy birthday and many more years of mentoring in the maritime industry, and described the industry as encompassing “myriad activities, operations and operators”.
“In the broadest sense, the industry includes all enterprises engaged in the business of designing, constructing, manufacturing, acquiring, operating, supplying, repairing and/or maintaining vessels, or component parts thereof; of managing and/or operating shipping lines, stevedoring and customs brokerage services, shipyards, dry docks, marine railways, marine repair shops, shipping and freight forwarding services and similar enterprises”, he said.