The Eyewitness Reporter
Undaunted by the challenges that have stifled previous efforts to re-float the moribund national shipping line, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola, has reiterated the commitment of his ministry to break the 28 years jinxed efforts to give life to the dead national carrier.
Oyetola, who was speaking in Lagos, Tuesday during the opening of the stakeholders roundtable engagement, said the passion of government to revisit the suspended venture was the desire to have a cut of the estimated $10 billion annual ship charter market within the country.
The Minister, who charged the stakeholders and government agencies to brace up for the challenges ahead, warned that there is no business as usual as there is an urgent need for a collaborative effort to brainstorm and devise strategies to leverage the nation’s marine resources for the betterment of the economy and safety of our planet.
Oyetola would be the third Minister in the Transportation Ministry( now Marine and Blue Economy Ministry) who would try to re-establish the sunken national shipping line after the famous Nigeria National Shipping Line(NNSL), established in 1959, went under in September 1995 due to heavy debt burden.
Rotimi Amaechi, in 2021, had a shot at refloating the dead national carrier through the Public-Private Partnership(PPP) model but could not succeed when the foreign counterparts in the project, suddenly withdrew.
His successor, Alhaji Mu’azu Jaji Sambo identified the refloating of the national shipping line as one of the low-hanging fruits he intended to harvest during his short stay but also failed to achieve anything on the project.
However, the pioneer Minister of the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, Oyetola, has followed the same trajectory as his predecessors, as he has indicated his desire to re-float the moribund project, using the PPP model.
While addressing the stakeholders, he promised that the re-floating of the national shipping carrier will in no way impede the growth of local players but rather provide an avenue for them to create and extract more value from the sector, especially through ship construction, maintenance, and repairs.
“This would enable our local businesses to better leverage the Cabotage Act, which gives Nigerians the exclusive right to control locally generated seaborne trade” he assured.
Oyetola disclosed that his ministry will embrace the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models to transform the sector.
He said the stakeholders’ meeting was convened to bring together players in the sector to discuss and chart a roadmap/direction that will advance the industry’s potential, promote sustainable Blue Economy investments and ensure global competitiveness within the sector.
He noted that the PPP model which his ministry will adopt, is a collaborative synergy between the private sector’s efficiency and the public sector’s oversight that is meant to bring about a transformative impact on the marine and blue economy as well as boost the creation of substantial job opportunities and the facilitation of increased trade and investment in the nation, reinforcing the ministry’s collaborative and forward-looking approach.
Some areas of discussion at the Roundtable are strengthening Blue Governance; Transforming Port Operations; Enhancing Port Infrastructure; and Promoting Blue Economy Investments.
“There is an urgent need for a collaborative effort to brainstorm and devise strategies to leverage our marine resources for the betterment of the economy and safety of our planet.
” It is imperative we come up with practicable ways of ensuring that our Inland Rivers, Lakes and Waterways are well utilised for cargo shipment and passenger transportation.
“This engagement forum is crucial to the development of the sector as it offers an opportunity for us all to collectively contribute our perspectives, and ideas and offer relevant inputs that can propel the sector to the trajectory of success necessary to support the development of the economy as well as meet the expectations of Mr. President who took the courage to open up Nigeria to focus on the Blue Economy Value Chain.
“The zeal for a better life for Nigerians propelled President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to recently unveil 8 Presidential Priorities to address critical national challenges. These priorities are to be delivered through 8 focus areas, namely: economic growth, food security, energy and natural resources, infrastructure development, security, healthcare, education, improved governance, and job creation.
“Our Ministry though new, is not resting on its oars and has continued to foster Inter-Agency collaborations and implement initiatives to promote Port efficiency, cargo shipment, maritime security and tap into the resources of the Seabed.
“Other anticipated outcomes include the creation of substantial job opportunities and the facilitation of increased trade and investment in the nation, reinforcing our collaborative and forward-looking approach”.
The Minister who said he is acquainted with the sector’s challenges, assured of his commitment to “bequeathing to Nigerians a better sector than we have met today”.
He assured that the Stakeholders’ Engagement will be a continuum, “since it is important that we normalise this harmonious synergy and work together to ensure that our industry is safe, reliable and sustainable”, he declared.
The stakeholders’ meeting is expected to brainstorm on ways and means by which the huge potential in the sector could be harnessed for the growth of the economy and the betterment of the people.
The minister said the outcome of the deliberation will form a nucleus of his blueprint for the development of the marine and blue economy sector which he intends to unveil to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the public.
Buhari, Jonathan, Obasanjo, Babangida, Abdusalami, Osinbajo, Atiku, others to spend N13.8billon from N27.5 trillion 2024 budget
The Eyewitness Reporter
The Federal government has earmarked the sum of N13.8 billion in the 2024 budget as the cost of upkeep of
former presidents, vice presidents, heads of state, Chiefs of General Staff, retired heads of service, permanent secretaries, and retired heads of government agencies and parastatals.
The beneficiaries include former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, ex-vice-presidents Atiku Abubakar, Namadi Sambo and Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
Also expected to benefit from the windfall are ex-military Heads of State, General Yakubu Gowon and General Abdusalami Abubakar, as well as a former dictator and self-styled military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, and a former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd.).
Also, N1tn was provisioned for the public service wage adjustment for government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (including arrears of promotion and salary increases, and payment of severance benefits and minimum wage-related adjustments).
A breakdown shows that the entitlements of former presidents/heads of state and vice presidents/chief of general staff will cost N2.3bn. At the same time, N10.5bn is proposed as benefits for retired heads of service, permanent secretaries and professors.
The payment of severance benefits to retired heads of government agencies and parastatals is proposed to cost N1bn.
Other allocations include N65bn for the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the reintegration of transformed ex-militants; N1bn for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Energy; and N108bn for unnamed special projects.
The government is also proposing the sum of N40bn to offset electricity debts owed to power distribution companies by all MDAs.
President Bola Tinubu unveiled the N27.5 trillion budget estimates for the 2024 fiscal year.
The budget was presented to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, where it is currently undergoing scrutiny and deliberation for final approval.
In his presentation, he declared, “The 2024 Appropriation has been themed the Budget of Renewed Hope.
The proposed budget seeks to achieve job-rich economic growth, macro-economic stability, a better investment environment, enhanced human capital development, as well as poverty reduction and greater access to social security.
News Alert: Wale Adeniyi revives CG conference, holds 2023 edition December 13-15 in Lagos.
Ukraine blocks Russia’s reelection bid at IMO council elections
The outcome is another blow for Russia after it failed in its bid to return to the UN’s top human rights body in October, in an election seen as a key test of Western efforts to keep Moscow isolated.
Last year, Moscow also failed to win enough votes for re-election to the UN aviation agency’s governing council.
The London-based International Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for regulating the safety and security of international shipping and preventing pollution and comprises 175 member state countries.
Russia has been a member since 1958 and has been consistently re-elected to the IMO Council.
With voting on Friday, 40 countries were elected by secret ballot to the IMO Council, which supervises the work of the body.
In October, Russia said the IMO was departing from its impartial role due to “external pressure” which it said was impacting the fair treatment of all member countries.
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