Maritime experts at the Renaissance of Ehingbeti Maritime Hub, in Lagos on Friday, July 21, 2023, expressed divergent views on the call for the establishment of the Ministry of Blue Economy to oversee the affairs of the industry.
Dr Alban Igwe, former Director, Trade and Education, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), in his keynote address, called for a dedicated Ministry of Blue Economy.
Igwe, while speaking on Lekki Deep Seaport, Blue Economy and Sustainability, noted that the ministry would ensure that the country and most especially, Lagos State, benefits from the ocean resources.
He noted that to achieve this, a timeline should be set, communities around coastal states should make impute, draft proposal should pass through public hearing session to get more expertise solutions.
According to him, in planning blue economy, there is need for multi-stakeholders approach, integrating coastal communities in the planning stage.
“The maritime hub in Ehingbeti is calling for a rebirth, it should envision a multinational business model with partnerships.
“There should be sustainable development which will include people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership,” he said.
He urged that a strategic step should be taken to ensure that the blue economy does not become a curse for the country, and therefore all stakeholders must be involved.
Collaborating on the call for blue economy ministry, Chairman, Zoe Maritime Resources Ltd, Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, said that maritime industry, which the blue economy belong, needed to stand on its own.
“Currently, the maritime industry is handled by the Ministry of Tansportation, but it is much bigger to be there because it is all encompassing.
“We need to take advantage of what God has given us in our ocean resources and we cannot do so with our present status,” she said.
Edodo-Emore also urged that women in Ehingbeti, Lagos State, must be helped strategically, for them to take advantage of ocean economy.
Mr Emmanuel Jime, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), said that the sustainability of the ocean resources was the council’s main focus.
Jime, represented by Mr Rotimi Anifowoshe, Director, Strategic Planning and Research, NSC, said that the blue economy seeks to conserve marine and fresh water to produce resources for energy and food.
He said that there should be deployment of new technology and innovation to drive environmental goods and ensure that industries that could emanates would not be disastrous to the blue economy.
Jime said to develop the economy, the communities and the youth should be empowered to forestall ills in the system.
Meanwhile, discussing against the establishment of the blue economy ministry, Mr Onimole Mobolaji, Director, Development Partnership Department, Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, Lagos State, said that the sector should be handled by the Presidency.
“We don’t need a new ministry, but we should ask ourselves what we have achieved with the ministry that we have.
Mobolaji noted that the problem was that most projects were done in silos, saying that in achieving a blue economy, it should be done “programmatically”.
Also collaborating against having blue economy ministry, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, said that it directly affects the poor and people in the riverine areas.
According to her, there is tendency the government may not appoint someone from the affected areas if the ministry was later set up.
This, she said, would make it difficult to know what affects the inhabitants.
Earlier, Mrs Violet Williams, President, Ocean Ambassadors Foundation, said that Ehingbeti was about maritime, shipping, commerce, international trade facilitation; and the whole story of the foundation of the wealth of Lagos.
According to Williams, Ehingbeti, has always the brain behind the economic nerve of the nation and not just Lagos State.
“Ehingbeti means the ‘Deep Blue Commerce’ and today’s event is about the old and the new, if there was no yesterday, there will not be any today.
“It emphasises the fact that as long as there’s water in EKO (Ehingbeti), commerce will always thrive,” she said.
The establishment of Lagos Blue Economy Project, the Renaissance of Ehingbeti Maritime Hub was conceived by Williams, to ensure an all inclusion of coastal communities in the blue economy agenda.
By Chiazo Ogbolu