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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.
  

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