Osinbajo advocates Continental Response To Maritime Challenges


New NIMASA logo unveiled at the conference

Chidi Samuel || Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday said the Strengthening of the coast guard function and timely exchange of information by African countries will help build a stronger maritime industry and improve trade facilitation.

The Vice President made the recommendation at the third annual conference of the Association of African Maritime Administration in Abuja.

According to him, the challenges facing the sector are not insurmountable, however, he tasked African countries to take advantage of the incredible opportunities to tackle the difficulties.

He said,“The challenges are many but not insurmountable. As things stand, Africa’s fishing grounds are being pillaged, it waters are polluted and piracy is heightening maritime insecurity and causing increases in the cost of insurance and trade. Many difficulties but incredible opportunities.

“The good news is that we are on the right path, collaboration, and synergies. Our countries have to continue to develop the maritime sector, beginning with the national level to the sub-regional and regional levels.”

Prof Osinbajo emphasised the need for African countries to ensure a coherent and collaborative continental response to the challenges facing African maritime.

“Here in Nigeria, we have taken steps to tackle some of the issues peculiar to us while still requiring regional and sub-regional collaboration. As African maritime administrators and regulators, it’s my respectful view that you must ensure a coherent and collaborative continental response to the challenges facing our maritime space.

“This will require cooperation amongst our states and agencies, and with other segments of society, including the private sector. It means that governance issues and appropriate legal and regulatory frame works must be put on the front burner, alongside timely exchange of information.

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“In addition, issues of maritime security and safety must continue to receive priority attention as we strive to make Africa a valued player in the international maritime community,” he concluded.

In his keynote address, the speaker of the house of representative, Hon Yakubu Dogara, identified the maritime sector as key to Nigeria’s economic revival.

Dogara expressed dismay that illegal unreported and unregulated(IUU) fishing leads to an annual loss of over $1.3bn in West Africa alone.

According to him, “Statistics has it that Illegal Unreported and Unregulated ( IUU ) fishing leads to a loss of over 1.3 billion dollars in West Africa alone, yearly.
“We must tighten the legal and regulatory framework to stop these losses. We must intensify efforts to promote Intra- African trade in fisheries as statistics also show that Pan-African fish trade is worth about 20 billion euros. This will help to sustain African economies in the long term.”
He continued, “We as a parliament have been at the forefront of legislation on maritime issues in the past and are currently, actively involved in processing legislations in the maritime sector. The House of Representatives of Nigeria only last week passed the National Transport Commission Bill which it is hoped would have a huge impact on the maritime sector especially with respect to economic regulation of activities of operators and agencies in our maritime sector.”
“The Bill, when passed, is expected to “give expression to relevant Conventions, Treaties, and Charters on safety and security and further strengthen Nigeria’s desire to make its waters safe”, according to the promoters of the Bill. The bill is in the court of the Executive at the moment and we await its transmission as an Executive Bill for legislative processing into law. The Executive should also use the opportunity to transmit other IMO Conventions and Protocols that have been acceded to by Nigeria, for domestication by the National Assembly”.
He went further to urge African maritime organisations to change the present situation where Africans do not benefit from the abundance of natural resources in its seas and waterways.
“Permit me to awaken our conscience, even if it amounts to a rebuke, to the fact that the days of paying lip service to the emergence of, skilled indigenous seamen and sea women and indigenous fleet owners, not vessel owners, are well over. A strong man lifts the cargo he generates, therefore Africa must possess the capacity to lift the cargo it generates, be they dry or wet if it must qualify as a strong maritime continent. The goal of this conference must not be the sustainable use of African oceans and seas by non-Africans but by Africans first and then others. I know of very few curses greater than for one to make his bed and for another to lie on it. Therefore, my charge to you administrators is to ensure that as you make this bed, you will also be making Africans who must lie on it.

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As part of the opening ceremony of the conference tagged: ‘Sustainable Use Of Africa’s Ocean and Seas’, a new Logo for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was unveiled by the Vice President.