If the recent revelation of Dr. Dakuku Peterside, director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is to be believed the Nigerian shipping sector is poised to take over from oil and gas as the largest revenue earner for the Federal Government.
Dr. Peterside took this position at the 5th Nigeria Transport Awards and Lecture held in Lagos recently, where he posited that the benefits of the oil and gas sector and other vibrant economic impacting sectors cannot be reaped without shipping, as the sector provides the wheel upon which trade thrives.
Observers who viewed his position as unattainable given our peculiar socio-political situation argued that the fact that he spoke through the Agency’s Director of Administration and Human Resources, Mr. Akin Akinyosoye could mean that his position may not have been properly articulated.
They conceded that the shipping sector is without doubt making significant progress but argued that it was not enough to push down the oil sector. Dr. Peterside’s position was seen as optimistically ambitious, given the fact that he was at the same time canvassing that for Nigeria to successfully diversify its economy there is need to advance the nation’s maritime sector, which is capable of taking over from oil as the country’s leading revenue earner in the nearest future.
One commentator, observed that although the Maritime sector is of critical significance to the Nigerian economy, it cannot by itself grow its revenue which is dependent on the activities and growth of other sectors. And in the words of Peterside, “Shipping is essential to the proper operation of any country’s economy and a vital part of a nation’s transport infrastructure.’’
Nigeria is strategically placed on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa and endowed with about 853km coastline and 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone as well as navigable inland waterways. It is a Nation blessed with abundant natural resources that are domiciled in every nook and cranny of the country, which needs to be harnessed through multiple sectors, including shipping, to create a positive economic impact.
MLN correspondents gathered from those who spoke on the issue that the economy needs a holistic approach to fix it and put it on a firm part of growth. Therefore all sectors need to be accorded due attention in order for the nation to achieve significant development in the medium to long term.