The All Nigeria Maritime Journalists Retreat organized by the Association of Maritime journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) with the theme: “Promoting Synergy between the Maritime, Oil & Gas Industries for National Development”, was declared opened by the Senate President Dr. Olubukola Saraki, represented by Chief Kayode Odunaro and had in attendance the Governorship candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), maritime stakeholders and journalists.
The retreat which included seminar sessions, training for journalists and award ceremony; had presentations by the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Action Democratic Party (ADP) governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi.
The organizers noted that the event was organized to bring together stakeholders in the maritime and oil/gas industries in a relaxed atmosphere where their achievements and challenges in 2018 can be carefully ex-rayed in a learning atmosphere for properly digestion by journalists for informed position before disseminating same to the public.
It is against this backdrop that the organizers lauded the completion of the reconstruction of the three kilometer Wharf Road by the NPA, Dangote Group and Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc.
They gave the three corporate bodies a pat on the back for activating their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to ensure that this very important access road to Nigeria’s premier port, Apapa Port is reconstructed after many years of neglect by the Federal Government.
The two-pronged event also honoured eminent Nigerian individuals and corporate organizations who excelled in their respective endevours in 2018. Those who received the AMJON Excellence Leadership Awards at the event includes; The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) ; Alhaji Yusuf Ismali, Managing Director Inland Container Nigeria Limited (ICNL) ; Alhaji Olayiwola Shittu, Chairman Skelas Group; Comptroller Abubakar Bashir, Customs Area Comptroller Apapa Command and Comptroller Musa Baba Ahmed, CAC Tin-Can Island Command.
Others were Comptroller Mohammed Aliyu, Customs Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos; Deputy Comptroller Sanusi Ahmed, OC, B1 Terminal TICT, Tin Can Island Command ; Deputy Comptroller Abdullahi Kirawa, National Coordinator CG Strike Force and Babatunde Gbadamosi, Lagos State Gubernatorial Candidate of the Action Democratic Party(ADP) in the 2019 general elections.
Stakeholders noted the absence of inter-modal transportation system in the country, saying it has slowed down efforts at driving national development and the critical productive and service industries in the maritime, oil and gas sectors.
The 27 kilometers Lagos blue line project which is gulping $4.5 million per kilometer since 2009 was yet to be completed, while the Ethiopian government between 2011 to 2016 built 792 kilometers of rail at $1.5 million per kilometer using the same Chinese company.
That efforts are ongoing to fix challenges associated with shallow channels at the various ports to attract larger vessels and increased cargo throughput.
That the expected synergy between the private and public sector players remains unimpressive and below expectation, often creating misunderstanding and mutual suspicions, to the extent that legal tussles have been instituted by some critical stakeholders and currently creating bottlenecks and efficient administration of operations in the sub sectors.
In spite of above judicial hurdles, it was observed that the regulatory agencies have continued to provide direction and regulations for players and operations.
Inefficient financial administration, control mismanagement and fraudulent funding management were also identified as some of the immediate challenges rubbing off on the holistic promotion of national development within these sectors of the economy.
It was further lamented that the Lagos ports built by the Western regional government are now in total mess and absolute shambles, crying investment, particularly in rail infrastructure and modern cargo handling methods and services.
It was noted that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has failed in its core mandate of ensuring safety of navigation on the Nigerian territorial waters, thus leaving the Nigerian waters as a heaven of piracy and sea robbery.
Nigeria it was said, loses over $150 million annually on war zone marine insurance alone and several millions of dollars annually on vessel security; all these happening because of insecurity on the Nigerian waterways.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND RESOLUTIONS
To be able to achieve a turnaround, it was strongly resolved that public office holders in the sub-sectors should display improved resources prudence and that security agencies and the Nigerian media should hold such officers accountable to the nation through objective and critical reportage and exposure of economic and financial crimes in a timely and patriotic manner.
There is need for inter agency synergies to deepen local content participation in the oil/gas and maritime sectors of the economy. It was resolved that increased investment in inter-model transport connectivity is the basic guide to standard logistics initiative in the maritime, oil and gas industry.
3 The Lagos State Government was called upon to stop further delay to early completion of the Lagos Blue Rail project for the benefit of residents and reconnection of the Badagry part of Lagos to other parts of the state.
4 The government was further called upon to investigate contract fraud in the project with the view to finding those behind alleged fraud in the contract and visiting them with full weight of the law.
5 It was agreed that for the local participation to grow in the business of maritime and oil/gas sectors, there is need to develop the rail, water, air and land transportation systems.
6 There is need to build the jetties and have huge canoes that can transport two thousand people from different locations in Lagos from Badagry, Ikorodu, Epe, Abule-Egba, Apapa and other areas.
7 Instead of dwelling in denial that piracy and criminalities in the Nigerian maritime domain has not reached alarming proportion as reported by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), NIMASA was urged to compare notes and learn from the wisdom of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which has ensured continued flow of Nigeria’s crude oil by contracting the protection of the pipelines to the ex-militants. The agency can as well give the contract for the patrol of Nigerian waters to locals to see if piracy will stop as militancy has stopped.
8. Other corporate bodies that have business in the Nigerian ports were called upon to borrow a leaf from NPA, Dangote and Flour Mills of Nigeria by joining in the task of rehabilitating port infrastructure.
9. Maritime journalists as the watchdog of the industry were urged to be fearless and courageous their reportage and imbibe the culture of developmental journalism for the growth of the sector and the economy.
Finally, NPA was urged to hasten the implementation of the National Single Window platform to further improve port service and minimize human contact in port business.
In conclusion, AMJON and other stakeholders in attendance agreed that the retreat must be an annual event, holding every year end as a modest contribution by the maritime media to the development and growth of the two key sectors of the economy and the country in general