How Nigeria can tap the wealth of its huge maritime resources-- Agbakoba

Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN

Nigeria urgently needs to overhaul its policy; regulatory, institutional and legal framework for the maritime sector,  in order to have the economy  benefit from its huge maritime resources, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and  prominent Maritime Lawyer, has advised.
Agbakoba gave the advice while reviewing the vital role of activating development law in economic reforms. 

He highlighted the fact that development law must be a part of economic reforms, considering that there is a strong link between law, regulatory institutions, governance, economic development and national welfare.

According to Agbakoba, Nigeria’s maritime industry “is estimated to be capable of generating seven trillion Naira annually and creating over four million jobs over five years.”

He, however, said that for Nigeria to see that happen, beginning with the six Inland Container Depots (ICDs), government needs to implement the policy to make them serve their economic purpose.

He said: “We have 6 (Six) ICDS spread across the geopolitical zones that can generate at least 15,000 jobs for different levels of manpower.

“Due to the lack of infrastructure to support business and operations by concessionaires, these depots have not been optimally utilized.”

He noted that a lot of tidying-up must be done within the legal framework to save revenue losses in the shipping sub-sector.

“Further to this is the need to review our cabotage regime to stem capital flight and boost capacity for Nigeria's Shipowners. Despite the enactment of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003 Nigeria loses an estimated 7 Trillion Naira in the shipping sector.

“Foreign vessels trade in violation of the Cabotage regime. This is responsible for capital flight.
“There is a need for immediate enactment of several critical bills pending before the National Assembly. This would facilitate the legal framework to move the maritime sector to the next level.

“Such bills as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the Ports and Harbour Bill, Maritime Zones Bill, Ocean Bill etc. are yet to be passed into law. There is also an urgent need to review the Nigerian Shipping Policy of 1987,” Agbakoba said.   

He added that “It is argued that the Nigerian legal and judicial framework is hopelessly outdated and needs an urgent review to meet current challenges. Yet governments generally fail to link legal policy, economic development and governance.”