Despite the huge natural and human resources that lies in the Nigerian maritime sector, negligence on the part of government and other stakeholders is largely responsible for the country’s inability to reap the economic gains from the industry and maximize its potentials.
The MD/CEO, GOG Marine Ltd, Bem Ibrahim Garba, said on Saturday in Abuja that it is regrettable that the Nigerian government, despite having full knowledge of the potentials and economic benefits in the maritime sector to the nation fails to recognise its importance or apply the knowledge to the development of the economy.
Garba lamented that Nigeria still lags behind Greece despite having similar opportunities in the industry and has to depend on many other seafaring states including the smaller European states to meet her maritime and logistics requirements.
He said, “If you are like me, and you think about situations like this deeply, you will find that the difference is not about a lack of resources, a lack of manpower or one country being better endowed than the other.
“The difference actually lies in what each country knows and how she chooses to make use of that knowledge.
“As a country, the Nigerian government officials responsible for the shipping industry’s development theoretically know and understand the significance of a well developed indigenous shipping industry.
“They know about the millions of good paying jobs that this industry can create for local Nigerians.
“The know about the valuable taxes that the country could earn if this industry was fully optimized. The challenge lies in how well we choose to utilize this well articulated knowledge?”
Garba said that unlike Greece, Nigeria is not taking the issue of maritime business serious and have been unable to exploit its natural advantages.
He said, “These two nation states have the natural advantage of proximity to the sea, giving their indigenous people (coastal people) the natural advantage of seeking employment, trade and wealth creation from trades associated with the Sea, yet these gains only accrue to one of the two states.”
He added that the Nigeria’s major source of income is crude oil exports, and 100 percent of the freight earned from transporting crude to foreign buyers goes to foreign ship-owners and foreign owned shipping companies.