The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has advocated for wider participation of relevant stakeholders in the “Blue Economy” project to deepen participation and benefits of Nigerians from the country’s marine resources.
He made the call at the inaugural meeting of an Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria at the Presidential Villa, on Tuesday.
He said a viable “Blue Economy” project would offer vista of opportunities not only for littoral states where there are bodies of waters but for the entire country. He identified areas to be exploited to include ports, terminals, fishing, training, environment, tourism, power, oil and gas.
“There is no doubt that the “Blue Economy” is a new frontier for economic development and a means of diversifying the economy through the use of resources from oceans, seas, rivers and lakes for the wellbeing of the people. It also provides positive contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 2052 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (2052AIM) and the UN 2030 agenda.
Osinbajo further said that the this concept for economic diversification is promoted by the international community and provides friendly means of livelihood in line with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s agenda on job creation. He noted that the “ocean economy” as an emerging economic frontier, applies to ocean based industry activities and the assets, goods and services of marine ecosystems.
“Countries have to define the scope of their blue economy based on their priorities. For example, in Bangladesh, the ocean economy consists of the following broad and growing economic sectors; living resources, minerals,energy, transport trade, tourism and recreation, carbon sequestration and coastal protection. These industries and ecosystem services do not develop in isolation, but rather interact as an economic ecosystem,” the VP said.
While identifying possible challenges of sustainability, the Vice President urged all the ministries, departments and agencies to strengthen their collaborations in an atmosphere of inter-ministerial working groups and advised all members to attend the meetings faithfully for maximum results.
Osinbajo, who formally inaugurated the expanded committee, identified the need for a legal framework that will be more robust than other international maritime conventions on blue economy which Nigeria has been signatory to. He said the scope and participation of the committee will be further improved on to accommodate more members from government agencies and relevant private sector stakeholders.
In his opening remarks, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said the blue economy is capable of improving government revenue, create employments and grow the gross domestic product of Nigeria. Amaechi who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Magdalene Ajani, also expressed optimism in the copious benefits derivable from a well exploited marine environment.
Speaking at the event, Secretary General of Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA), Dr. Paul Adalikwu, lauded initiative of the expansion while recommending inclusion of financial institutions like the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), African Development Bank (AfDB) and key financial institutions that will contribute meaningfully to realising the country’s Blue Economy objective.
Aside maritime agencies like Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, the expanded committee also comprised of 10 state governors including Rivers, Lagos, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Borno, Ogun, Ondo, Cross River, Bayelsa and Edo States.
Other members are Ministers of Foreign Affairs,Power, Finance, Environment, Trade and Investment, Agriculture and Water Resources , Chief of Naval Staff, Comptroller General of Customs, Lake Chad Basin Commission, Nigeria Economic Summit Group and others.