The National President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Him. Tony Iju Nwabunike, has advised the government at all levels to engage youths in coastal communities to support security operatives in the fight against sea robbers and other criminal elements along the inland waterways.
Nwabunike made the call in view of the enormous potentials inherent in the country’s vast inland waterways.
The ANLCA boss stated this while presenting a paper at a lecture in Lagos on Friday.
The paper tagged” Blue Economy: Pathway For Nigeria’s Economy Diversification” ,Nwabunike reiterated the need to engage coastal communities youth to restore sanity on the waterways.
His words, “Government should as a matter of policy, involve youths of coastal communities in a kind of Civilian Task Force to support the Navy and other security agencies in nipping our maritime insecurity in the bud”
Speaking further, he noted that nation’s maritime domain has suffered setbacks of general insecurity due to lack of priority attention, inadequate security platforms like patrol boats, aircrafts and supporting technology gadgets and lesser number of personnel to implement or enforce adherence to security on water.
According to him, maritime piracy, sea robbery, oil theft, kidnapping on waters have been copiously recorded in the domain that should be contributing to our economic well being.
“I am almost tempted to say that our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is no longer exclusive to us because the people I choose to call maritime bandits are threatening our space.
“I am aware that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency is rising to the occasion with planned deployment of advanced security assets to energise our blue economy. I believe it will work if consciously sustained . This they tagged the “Deep Blue Project”
“It is anticipated that this move will go a long way in fighting piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea and our country’s entire territorial waters”
The ANLCA President pointed out that safety of vessels, cargoes and crews on the maritime space have direct impacts on the overall economy since the maritime sector is critical in the areas of trade, investment, employment and recreation.
He affirmed that the 853km long Nigeria coastline runs through seven of the Southern States of the Federation, Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers bordering the Atlantic Ocean, pointing out that these are aside other states that are linked by inland waters for copious socio cultural and commercial activities.
While urging the government to look beyond oil and gas industry to sustain the economy, Nwabunike postulated that as the second highest revenue earner, Nigerian maritime industry is the nation’s economic low hanging fruit capable of cushioning the temporary effect of inadequate oil revenue.
“We are rich in maritime resources, rich in oil which is transported by ships but sometime ago, in the recent past , we were tagged as the poverty capital of the world. This is ironically our reality, which we can change for better
“National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had declared that it would deduct N112 billion from oil and gas proceeds for April to ensure continuous supply of petroleum products to the country and guarantee energy security.
“Implications includes not having oil revenue for the federal government to share with the states and local governments.”
The ANLCA High chief further explained that the situation was premised on the hike in crude oil prices on the deregulated downstream sector and the need for uninterrupted supply of petroleum products to citizens
He further noted that even if oil prices rise astronomically now to $200 per barrel, Nigeria is a country in debt and still looking for loans to fund the 2021 budget as at May this year.
“What this tells us is that oil money alone cannot satisfy our national thirst for funds. Federal,states and local governments struggle to pay salaries while pension and other welfare liabilities are almost unattended in many parts of the country.
He predicted that in the future, the organised labour and some state governments are likely to experience face off due to states’ inability to meet their payment obligations, stressing that these are fallouts of oil revenue inadequacy.
Nwabunike also decried government perpetual borrowing from foreign nations, adding that such moves would make Nigeria an economic slave to its creditors
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