My vision for Nigeria’s Maritime Industry--Amaechi

Transportation Minister, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi

While industry analysts propose that government could generate as much as N7 trillion in revenue from the maritime sector if the potentials were adequately utilised, the Transportation Minister, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, believes in setting sail for actions that would translate into economic gains for the nation.

 In this interview, the minister clarified his position on the need for a performance audit of some of the parastatals under the ministry, to ascertain the high point between their perceived economic strength and their actual contribution to wealth creation for the nation.

The minister said making the Cabotage fund work would mean starting with re-establishing a national carrier and not by giving out the funds to people without adequate monitoring.

 He also gave insights into a number of other issues in the maritime industry.

Vision for the Maritime Sector

For me, maritime comes after the railways because I know that what Nigerians want today is for the trains to run. After that, I will be looking at the maritime industry in terms of revenue generation, but in all honesty, I do not think we are doing enough in the area of the maritime sector and I do not even think that investors are putting down enough money. They may be putting down some money but not enough.

I do not think we are organised enough; I don’t agree that both the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) would not have done better than they are currently doing. I think that before one can talk about the policy direction, you must talk about an audit performance because when you get the performance audit that is when you know what reforms you can carry out.

Defining a Maritime Policy for Nigeria

The performance audit would reveal if there is a policy at all, if there is none, it will also tell us if there is a need to establish one and guide us to what that policy should be. Basically, for me not the maritime industry, I am at a standstill waiting for the performance audit. Have they started the performance audit? The answer is no.

We have been trying to engage an auditor, but I need to do a memo to the President to approve the funds that it requires and then ask her to go on because it is huge.  She is going to do a performance audit for NIWA. She is going to do a performance audit for NPA. She is going to do a performance audit for NIMASA and then we take it from there.
That is when you can then ask ‘what is the general direction in terms of policy framework?

On Cabotage

We will try as much as possible to utilise the Cabotage fund first, but not in the manner that these monies were prescribed, because as we say in Nigeria, once beaten, twice shy. The management of all these funds before, had not been as transparent as it should be. So, this time, we will use that money and invest in a national carrier on behalf of Nigerians. 

Government will not be responsible to select those who will own those equity or shares because if government keeps those shares, government will want to participate in the management of the company. It may not be our government now, but another government. But if you give out the equity or shares to private hands, then no government will come and say it wants to manage the company or the national carrier.

We will do all that from that perspective and I will also look at the law again. Any area that needs enforcement, if I will require Presidential approval, I will have to go to the President to get an approval for the enforcement of that law as far as it will benefit our people.

Manpower Development and Capacity Building

I think it is more of training and most people who are trained apart from those who are trained overseas don’t have sea time training. That was why I said that we will get the Maritime Academy (MAN) Oron, to acquire one vessel for now. If we expand MAN Oron to university status and equip it, it will train the kind of people we are looking for. But you have not even equipped it, you have not expanded it and you want to establish another university, the answer is no.

Partnering with Customs

There are a lot of things we need to discuss with Customs, and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali has agreed that there is a need for a meeting between us.  Once I get back to Abuja, I will set up a meeting between myself and Ali to look at areas of disagreement and areas where we can partner.

Would your ministry work with Customs to review of the tariff to help boost the sector?

Let’s do synergy first before we can talk about the issue of tariff.

Maritime Bills at the National Assembly

They are ready to pass them. I have met with them and they are ready to pass them.

On the missing Bill on piracy and armed robbery at sea

If I can get a copy, I will forward it to the cabinet.


On Ibom Port Crisis

I have directed that the parties find a solution to the problem out of court.

Port models for the port reforms in Nigeria

I want to see what the problems are first. When you see what the problems are, then you can think of how to solve them. It is how to solve them that will tell you which port it can be modeled after.