Stakeholders urge FG to deepen local content in maritime, oil & gas sectors

Agencies of the Federal Government regulating the maritime and oil & gas sectors have been charged to improve implementation of local content policies in order to enable creation of indigenous companies and employment in the two sectors.
The stakeholders at a one-day a one-day sensitization seminar on “Local Content Development in Shipping, Oil and Gas Logistics Operation in Nigeria,” organised by Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria(MARAN) in Apapa Lagos on Tuesday, called on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring  Board, NCDMB, to implement, with full force, existing local content laws and policies, such as Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act of 2003, which gives Nigerian vessels  the right of first refusal in lifting cargoes from the country’s waters.

Maritime expert, Otunba Kunle Folarin, while delivering a lecture titled, “Seafarers Perspective on Local Contenet Development in Oil & Gas Shipping Logistics Operation,” said that the Ministry of Transport was allowing foreign shipping lines freedom to employ engage foreigners seafarers on oil vessels.

He said: “Up till today, 70 to 80 per cent of seafarers in our waters are foreigners. We need to have a very clear policy regime on how to acquire  the vessels on which the local seafarers can work. 

"NIMASA has told us that there are over 12,000 registered with it, but we do not know where they work. There is need to know the reality of the situation. A few weeks ago the largest vessel in oil and gas industry berthed in Lagos, the Egina and this is a good example on the way to follow. We must find how to integrate Nigerians into the oil and gas sector in all of its ramifications.” 

According to the maritime industry analyst, in the last two years, 407 vessels called on Nigerian ports, with none having Nigerians on board as workers.

“Even if only one of these vessels have Nigerians as its seafarers, we can be sure of about 5,000 Nigerians onboard that vessel. Nigeria has spent about $15 billion to support foreign trade in the last few years, but the question is how much are we getting back?
Nigeria has 200 exclusive economic zones, over 870km coast line. Nigeria’s maritime domain alone can support her economy,” he noted. 

In his remarks, the President, Nigerian Licensed Ship Chandlers Association, Dr Martins Enebeli, charged maritime reporters to follow strictly, Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which mandates them to hold leaders accountable for the benefit of Nigeria. 

While alleging that about 250 Nigerian seafarers are currently in prison for flimsy reasons, Enebeli called for the release of such Nigerian seafarers who are detained without trial, or without tangible evidence of crime against them.

He also charged NIMASA to wake up to its responsibilities in the area of Cabotage Act implementation, submitting that “there are no illegalities in our waters, but the bureaucracies in the industry are the bane of its development.”

“It is not true that Nigerians lack the capacity to do most of these things. There about 21 agencies of government in the maritime and oil and gas environment, but they are not achieving results,” Enebeli  noted.