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Nigeria not utilising its huge potentials in maritime sector- Agbakoba

…Says proper application of cabotage can
generate N4 trl revenue

Dr. Olisa Agbakoba

Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, a former President of
the Nigerian Bar Association, has decried the nation’s lacklustre approach to
putting into proper use huge economic potentials embedded in its maritime

Agbakoba told newsmen in an interview
during a focus group meeting organised by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping in
Lagos that the nation’s maritime industry could fetch the economy thousands of
jobs and make as much as seven trillion Naira in revenue for government.  

He, however, noted that government must
first realise how big the sector is, without which there wouldn’t be any

“The maritime industry can generate seven
trillion Naira because of its big potential. And as you know, Nigeria is
challenged in terms of fiscal responsibilities, unemployment and we have to
create jobs.

“If maritime is not even mentioned at
government Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), it is not mentioned in
vision 2020, then you can imagine. So, that is what we are suffering. And the
problem with shipping is that it is invisible. It is not like a bank that you
will see the building,” he said.

He added that with the proper application
of the cabotage “Nigeria can earn as much four trillion in revenue.”

Agbakoba also called attention to the need
for a more robust office in government handling various areas of shipping,
similar to the structure of the United Kingdom.

He said: “The highest-level player in
government that oversees shipping is the Director of Maritime Services. It is
way too low. It is in a small department. We need an integrated ministry of
transport; roads, rail, shipping and aviation. Just like in the United Kingdom where t
he Secretary
for transportation has four under-secretaries, each of them running a sector.”

Agbakoba  charged government to wake up
to the losses the nation  suffers when
foreigners dominate her coastal trade and make much more benefits from ancillary
business from insurance, shipping, law and banking.

“When I was reading all the various laws relating to cargo movement, let us just take Bonga; When the Nigerian
government signs a Production Sharing Contract( PSC)with an International Oil Company(IOC), all they see is a barrel of oil. They
don’t see the 34 by-products like shipping, insurance, banking and law.

“That is why we are fighting for Freight On Board(FOB) to be
scrapped for us to have the Cost Insurance and Freight(CIF). So, the IOCs are happy with what is currently happening. Who carries our crude? No Nigerian is carrying
crude. That is the problem. We gave a procurement policy that disfigures

“So, if you just talk about crude
procurement and cargo movement, you are looking at about 100 vessels and work.
So, we need to have a trade policy that takes into account economic

“Honestly, from the presentations here, you can
see that the potential of the industry is so huge. Any area you lean, is so
huge. But, Ghana is now taking over from Nigeria as the hub, even in the
aviation sector.

“Togo is now the hub for Emirates. They generate flights from
Togo straight into New York. So, how is it that 180 million people led by a
government, can’t see the potential, and yet we talk about poverty. That is
what burgles the mind. 

“The problem is, is the government showing enough
interest? Government has to create the enabling environment,” he said. 

Agbakoba wants what he describes as “economic
nationalism” to protect local operators in the sector and enable the nation
earn more revenue.

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