By Jerry Aguigbo
“The first step to a blossoming blue economy is in envisioning and prioritizing blue sectors and understanding the risks to ocean health.”
Speaking recently in at the Roundtable organised by the Maritime Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (MAJAN), to review the activities of the Maritime sector in the first quarter of the year, the DG, Sea Empowerment Research Center, Mr Francis Uchechukwu Aniezechukwu giving analysis where Nigeria is in her drive for a viable blue economy. Said that Nigeria has not started harnessing the blue economy, even with the none arrival of infrastructure supposedly newly acquired for national security, going by what The Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) is doing presently.
According to him, Nigeria is short of data, at best what the bureau for data can only give is generated by the Transportation sector but in normal climes, the office of the Archeology General is to harness research and generate data for our water resources.” Nations who work with accurate data grow 40 percent more than those without data” he explained.
Speaking further, Aniezechukwu informed that the National bureau for statistics is the only body that can give verified data for the country, the regulatory Agencies must wake up if we must make progress, we cannot make progress without securing our water ways, though piracy attack he says, is on the decline since the signing of the anti piracy bill. According to the International Maritime Bureau Global piracy incident report on the gulf of guinea is very encouraging, 62 incidents were reported in the first quarter of 2019, 47 in same period of 2020 and a further decline 38 in 2021 but when you go to our coastal areas, you discover Nigeria has no security.
Continuing he says, Nigeria must inculcate maritime researchers into its integrated blue economy strategies and road maps. The sweeping continental vision for an African blue economy, envisaged by the 2050 AIM Strategy, remains far from realization, with the initial time frames for implementation behind schedule.
Nigeria has limited sea research institutions centers and infrastructure. According to him, “safety and security, are essential for establishing a viable blue economy and curbing illegal maritime activities, research shows that one fifth of the world’s fisheries catch is estimated to originate from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Africa,” he said.
Also speaking, the National President of ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike said that Nigeria has not utilized one tenth of her blue economy. According to him, the blue economy will enlarge our scope of what maritime is all about.
Also contributing, the MD, Nurwags Integrated Services Ltd. and a member of Barge Operators of Nigeria ( BOAN), Alh.Mohammed Nura Wagani, calls for a collaboration between all security agencies to ensure safety, ” there is also a need for collaboration between West and Central African countries on security but without data, we are still way behind, despite acquiring helicopters and platforms. We also need someone with marine interest at the helms of affairs to grow the sector, “nothing is practically happening in our maritime domain,” he said.