Seafarers have said that the Nigerian maritime industry has the potential to generate $100bn annually if properly harnessed.
The seafarers said this on Sunday at an event to commemorate the 2023 World Seafarers Day, organised by the Joint Body of Nigerian Seafarer’s Professional Group comprising the Female Seafarers Association of Nigeria; Concerned Seafarers Forum; Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria; Maritime Professional Forum; Nigerian Association of Master Mariners; Great Mariners; Nigerian Seafarers Connect; Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron and Nigeria Maritime Pilot Association.
Speaking at the event, the Secretary-General of the Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria, Captain Alfred Oniye, said the proper implementation of the Cabotage Act could propel the country’s maritime industry to generate at least $50bn annually.
“The implementation of Cabotage Act is enough to generate nothing less than $50bn for the maritime industry yearly because it will open channels for opportunities in the industry. Nigeria is bleeding through the maritime. This industry can generate nothing less than over $100bn annually for the present administration.
“Apart from the implementation of the Cabotage Act, Nigeria is not too small to have a coast guard. The establishment of a coast guard will go a long way for Nigeria,” he asserted.
Speaking further, Oniye explained that 80 per cent of Nigerian seafarers were jobless and the majority of them were out of sea.
He stated “If we want these seafarers to meet up with their global counterparts, all they need is to add to their training and let them be more professional and create jobs for them. Even the foreigners that are bringing ships here with Nigerian flagships, the government must come up with a policy to say that 80 per cent should be Nigerian seafarers while 20 per cent foreign.
“The Federal Government must come out with a policy that would encourage shipbuilding in the country. Building ships alone in Nigeria would create jobs for over 5,000 Nigerians. Implementation of the Cabotage Act is enough to create jobs for over 15,000 Nigerians because the ship would be built here and owned by Nigerians,” he further stated.
Addressing newsmen, the Chairman of the organising committee of the event, Captian William Ogunshakin, said, “70 per cent of vessels operating in Nigeria are owned by foreigners. And when you pay for their services, you pay them in their countries. The money stays there. They only pay little to some few labourers around here.
“Formerly, seafaring was blossoming. There was a time they will be begging you for a job. But now, even when you get a job, there is no happiness. For the students in schools, their morale is dead. When we were in school, we were praying to graduate on time because we were sure we were going to get a job. But now, it is not the same. The students are demoralised. That is why we created this entire avenue. We establish football team and everything to make them happy,” he explained.