FG calls for collaborative response to African maritime challenges

• Says efforts on to tackle Niger Delta issues

President Mohammed Buhari on Thursday in Abuja, called for collaborative measures in tackling Africa’s maritime challenges. This is even as Mr President, while launching the new Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA) logo, used the opportunity to reveal that efforts are in top gear to tackle insecurity issues in the Niger Delta region.

Mr President stated this while declaring open the two-Day 3rd edition of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) in Abuja. Mr President who was ably represented by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibajo also stated that efforts have been put in place to tackle the issue of insecurity in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, “We have set up engagement to ‎resolve and address the misunderstanding and contentious issues in the Niger Delta which of cause is part of the Gulf of Guinea. We recently approved a new maritime security architecture and infrastructure to be jointly coordinated by NIMASA, office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT). “We have given required support to the Navy so that they can work with others within our sub region to effectively police our waters for trade. This arrangement will also contribute to resolving and eliminating piracy and sea robbery in our maritime domain. The result are encouraging and piracy have dropped dramatically especially in the last six months

“We are also making substantive investment to improve human capacity by taking advantage of international trade in the shipping and maritime industry.

“We have paid significant attention to make it easy in doing business and one of our immediate priorities in this regard is the entry and exit of goods especially in our seaports. The measures we are putting in place is to increase efficiency of our port and to enable quick turnaround time of vessels. Technology is also being introduced to make our port operation effective to support economic growth. NIMASA as regulatory agency is being reformed to play effective role as a facilitator of economic prosperity.”

Also speaking at the event, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi stated that Nigeria, through the hosting of the event wishes to reinstate its commitment to continually contribute to the growth of the maritime sector on the continent of Africa and globally.

In his words, “The conference is not merely to praise the maritime sector of Africa but to tackle the maritime problems being encountered in the continent. It is regrettable that despite Africa’s enormous maritime endowment, we remain susceptible to raft of challenges .

“These include insignificant share of cargo, low tonnage, piracy, sea robbery, undeclared and unregulated fishing, and environmental degradation; worse still there is no African flagged vessels taking cargoes and our waterways still wallow in servitude.

“The African human capacity is greatly underdeveloped, leaving us to rely on foreigners to drive our industry. There is also near total absence of trained coast-guard to monitor our maritime domain.”

In his own welcome speech, the Director General of the NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside explained that, “hosting AAMA two years after African leaders through the African Union subscribed to 7 keys aspiration encapsulated in the agenda 2063 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2015 and three years after the adoption of Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050 concedes on Nigeria a special status.

“Only recently, to further reinforce the critical role maritime can play in the development of Africa, the African Union (AU) special summit of Heads of Government on maritime security, safety and development in Lome, Togo, 15th October 2016 aligned with us.

“They adopted a Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development aimed at making Africa’s maritime space the key driver of the continents socio-economic development. This document was endorsed by 43 out of 54 African nations.

The AAMA inspired by African Union maritime transport charter provides us, as stakeholders in the maritime sector, a platform to give effect to the various charters adopted by our heads of government whether AIM 2050, Agenda 2063 or Lome charter.”