By Henry Tyohemba, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration is repositioning the nation’s maritime sector as the country’s main economic driver and pivot for diversification.
Buhari made the declaration in Abuja at the launch of a book “Harnessing Nigeria’s Maritime Assets – Past, Present and Future”, written by Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The President who was represented by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said the Nigerian maritime sector boasts of a rich and barely untapped assets, pointing out that with reforms and proper investments in the sector, the country will grow exponentially.
He noted that the reforms has already started with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which has been so far transformed from a contract-awarding agency to a true industry regulator it was created to be.
The President further stressed that many shippers and stakeholders have been angling for the disbursement of the cabotage funds, saying the money was being kept and will be appropriately spent at the right time, for the purpose it was created for.
“We will not bring the cabotage fund out to be shared. The previous administration blew the cabotage fund. There’s a new NIMASA in place today. It’s not a contract awarding agency. Cabotage money was spent on maritime faculties here and there in many universities and yet we really have nothing to show for all these huge spending.
Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Yetunde Onanuga, who represented Governor Ibikunle Amosun described Jamoh’s 221-page book as a product of well-researched work. She added that the book will further develop the economy of Nigeria by further elucidating ways of diversifying the economy.
Also speaking, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai said the book was rich and encapsulated ways of taking the sector to the next level.
Buratai said the Nigerian Army has been protecting the maritime assets of Nigeria for several decades and will continue to do so.
“Security is vital to making the Nigerian maritime assets work. I urge NIMASA not to forget the Lake Chad region as it is a gold mine. We’re working hard to tackle the security challenges and stabilize the region.
“The Lake Chad can compete with coastal areas. We want NIMASA to carry out further research to see what we have and what we can harness in the Lake Chad region”, the Army Chief said.