For Nigerian maritime industry to witness significant growth, the Federal Government must show the political will to open up the sector for smooth participation by local and international investors.
Vice Chairman, Nigeria Maritime Expo Planning Committee, Mrs. Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, canvassed this view in Lagos on Monday, while speaking on plans to host the maritime conference and exhibition this year.
Onyema-Orakwusi, a former President, Nigeria Trawler Owners Association, also condemned the sale of the nation’s crude oil on FOB arrangement.
She said, “A lot of us are certainly not excited about events in the sector since independence but we are not in despair. There are a lot of plans to open up the sector this year.”
She said the committee set up last year by President Jonathan to chart a roadmap for the maritime industry and create the path for its sustainable development had concluded its assignment.
Although she said, there were assurances that the committee’s recommendations would be implemented by government this year, “We are also not resting on our oars at NIMAREX” to complement government’s efforts.
For instance, Onyema-Orakwusi said, “We have a public-private partnership in place to open up the sector and what we’re doing at NIMAREX is not just a talk shop. We are spearheading a silent revolution, which will also begin to yield fruits this year.”
She also spoke on why the oil being exported by Nigeria had not translated into big business for indigenous shippers and allied maritime operators.
“We’re an oil exporting country. How can we continue to sell our oil FOB? You cannot buy my product and dictate to me the terms.”
FOB or ‘Free on Board’ is often used in relations to port of loading, indicating that the seller will pay for the cost of loading and transportation of the goods to the port of shipment.
“We believe we have an industry that can create employments, if well managed,” she said.
According to her, NIMAREX is an annual event hosted jointly by the Federal Ministry of Transport together with its various agencies and other stakeholders in the maritime industry to showcase the nation’s enormous maritime endowments to the rest of the world.
President Goodlcuk Jonathan, she said, would declare open the NIMAREX 2013 on March 12 in Lagos with former President Olusegun Obasanjo chairing the event.
Onyema-Orakwusi also gave the theme of this year’s programme as Nigerian Maritime: Invest Now.
Two former Heads of State; Retired General Yakubu Gowon and Chief Ernest Shonekan and representative of the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation, Mr. Koji Sekimizu, attended the first two editions of NIMAREX, she said.
She said, “We are expecting a lot of international maritime companies from all over the world as well as major shipping companies operating in Nigeria and the international oil companies. NIMAREX 2013 will not only set a new pace for the industry but will be a pride to all maritime industry practitioners.”
Onyema-Orakwusi said that the NIMAREX 2013 Planning Committee was made up of government officials drawn from various agencies and major private sector stakeholders who have been working round the clock in the past six months to ensure a successful event.