Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has promised that the National Assembly will continue to come up with necessary legislation that will make Nigeria’s maritime sector one of the best and safest in the continent and the world.
Dogara gave the assurance while delivering a goodwill message at the annual conference of the Association of African Maritime Administrators in Abuja on Thursday.
He said that Africa, and Nigeria in particular, have lost lots of revenue because of lack of adequate legal and regulatory framework guiding the maritime sector.
“Statistics has it that Illegal Unreported and Unregulated, IUU, fishing leads to a loss of over $1.3 billion in West Africa alone, yearly.
“We must tighten the legal and regulatory framework to stop these losses.
“We must intensify efforts to promote intra- African trade in fisheries as statistics also show that Pan-African fish trade is worth about 20 billion euros.
“This will help to sustain African economies in the long term,” the Speaker said.
Dogara told the gathering that Nigeria’s House of Representatives, last week, passed the National Transport Commission Bill which is expected to have a huge impact on the maritime sector “especially with respect to economic regulation of activities of operators and agencies in our maritime sector.”
He also assured that the National Assembly will give speedy legislative action to the proposed Bill for an Act to provide for the Suppression of Piracy and other unlawful Acts at Sea, and other related offences.
Dogara pointed out that the proposed bill, which is currently with the executive arm of government, is being awaited for legislative action.
He said: “The bill is in the court of the Executive at the moment and we await its transmission as an Executive Bill for legislative processing into law.
“The Bill, when passed, is expected to give expression to relevant Conventions, Treaties and Charters on safety and security and further strengthen Nigeria’s desire to make its waters safe,” he added.
Furthermore, he charged African maritime organisations to also concentrate on training skilled African seamen and sea-women as well as encouraging indigenous fleet owners who will truly commit to the growth of Africa’s maritime sector.
“Permit me to awake our conscience, even if it amounts to a rebuke, to the fact that the days of paying lip service to the emergence of, skilled indigenous seamen and sea women and indigenous fleet owners, not vessel owners, are well over.
“A strong man lifts the cargo he generates, therefore Africa must possess the capacity to lift the cargo it generates, be they dry or wet, if it must qualify as a strong maritime continent.
“The goal of this conference must not be the sustainable use of African oceans and seas by non-Africans but by Africans first and then others.
“I know of very few curses greater than for one to make his bed and for another to lie on it.
“Therefore my charge to you administrators is to ensure that as you make this bed, you will also be making Africans who must lie on it,” the Speaker said.
Dogara also charged the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to innovate ideas and policies that will enable Nigeria benefit optimally from its abundant resources.
“Nigeria is potentially a major maritime power considering the depth and breadth of our Exclusive Economic Zone and Territorial waters, and can do even more to efficiently and effectively make sustainable use of the Oceans and Seas,” he stated.