Maritime stakeholders review brief to harvest Nigeria’s Blue Economy resources



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The need to effectively utilise the available maritime resources for the development of the nation’s blue economy and making it an alternative revenue generator to oil was a key point agreed on by stakeholders who participated at ‘A Day With Nigeria Maritime Students’ which held in Lagos on May 27.
Participants pointed out that Nigeria must take urgent steps for such development to sustain the economy as countries that buy the nation’s oil, which is a major revenue earner, had started developing alternative sources of energy.


The participants also noted that it was expedient that manpower development beginning with standard training for cadets, be given adequate attention, as local capacity remains important to the development of the blue economy.
Following robust discussions and paper presentations, the participants made the following observations and recommendations.
OBSERVATIONS
1. That sea time for Nigerian cadets has been both herculean and pathetic;
2. That it is important for seamen to plan on using their experiences to work ashore after work life at sea, in order to build capacity of younger seafarers;
3. Stakeholders observed the need and importance of empowering the Nigerian youths for the benefit of a sustainable economy;
4. Stakeholders also noted the importance of developing the blue economy through adequate manpower development in the maritime industry;
5.That there is a pressing need for meaningful dialogue between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and ship-owners on the matter of fully integrating very large crude carriers (VLCC) manned by Nigerians in the lucrative trade of lifting of the nation’s crude;
6. That if Nigeria could get a lot of the citizenry qualified as competent seafarers, Nigerians could get to replace the large numbers of foreigners that currently man the vessels plying Nigeria’s coastal waters;
7. That if Nigeria evolves a pool of competent seafarers, such persons could also be engaged aboard vessels plying international waters;
8. Participants observed that currently oil constitutes 90 percent of Nigeria’s income, but that of more concern is that buyers of Nigeria’s oil are making frantic efforts to develop alternative source of energy;
9. Participants observed that the Federal Government is currently battling with high level of insecurity which is linked to massive youth unemployment;
10. That competent Nigerian seafarers could thrive both offshore and onshore by retiring to land-based duties after their times at sea;
11. That river ports development in Nigeria is bedeviled by the same matrix of problems facing the nation’s maritime industry;
12. That river ports offer huge economic opportunities through engagement in a gamut of services delivery;
13. That Nigeria’s maritime resources endowments (MREs) offer immense opportunities for economic fulfillment for the teeming and ever-expanding population;
14. That the high cost of their training is not commensurate with the lowly wages paid seafarers, encouraging those so-inclined among them to engage in sharp practices for economic survival;
15. That Nigerian seafarers contend with unjust criminalisation by Nigerian government security and regulatory agencies and foreign governments;
16. That the lack of a transparent reporting platform is adversely affecting the welfare of seafarers; and
17. Participants observed that five years after the ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention MLC, the Federal Government has yet to commence its implementation.
RECOMMENDATIONS
1. That government agencies in the maritime industry and other stakeholders should work out better modalities to enable cadets have quality sea-time experience;
2. That youths key into the opportunities in the maritime sector in terms of entrepreneurship in the areas of ship chandelling, freight forwarding, bunkering etc;
3. That Nigerian cadets develop the important survival skills of character and tolerance when they go on board training vessels;
4. That the nation’s Maritime Administration should urgently commence the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and also create a unit that will be in charge of the welfare of the seafarers;
5. Participants recommended that sea-time for Nigerian cadets should be made easier, given the current herculean and pathetic process towards the exercise, which has denied many seafarers access to it;
7. That there is need to empower Nigerian youths to access the opportunities available in the maritime industry as part of efforts to curb increasing crime rates and also contribute towards a sustainable economic growth;
8. That it is important to develop the blue economy through adequate manpower development in the maritime industry; and
9. Participants recommended that urgent efforts should be made to reposition the maritime industry, since buyers of Nigeria’s oil are urgently developing alternative sources of energy”.
The  event  was attended by maritime industry operators including the President of Shipowners Association of Nigeria, Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung, President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Capt. Tajudeen Alao, former President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Capt. Ade Olopoeniyan, Executive Director, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh and Head of Operations, Bluelake Offshore Limited, Capt. Segun Enitan, among others.