OrderPaperToday- Stakeholders in the Ministry of Transportation have moved against a proposal to provide not less than 12% of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency’s (NIMASA) revenue for the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State.

This position was made known during a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education, and Administration on three Bills relating to the industry.

The Committee is chaired by Lynda Ikpazu, the lawmaker representing Onitsha North/South Federal Constituency of Anambra State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

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According to the Director Legal Services, Pius Oteh, who represented the Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, the proposal was excessive as it does not adequately take cognisance of the diverse responsibilities of NIMASA in a challenging fiscal environment. 

He further added that the proposal, in one of the Bills to amend the NIMASA Act 2007 to strengthen the institution, appears to not recognize the fact that as a regulated public institution.

Oteh noted that as a public institution regulated by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) and Federal Ministry of Education, the institution would equally be entitled to funds publicly appropriated by the National Assembly on a yearly basis.

He said the Ministry would continue to support the University, as it recognises the crucial role that the institution plays in developing local capacity within the Maritime sector.

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Earlier, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila in his opening remarks said the aim of the bill is to ensure the maritime sector of the national economy operates optimally.

He said it is intended to make the sector more attractive to investors and better suited to meet the needs of the people who rely on the maritime industry in various ways. These ways he noted include being a source of job creation and economic opportunities. 

Gbajabiamila also noted that efforts at reforming the sector will continue because as Nigeria continues to diversify its economy away from over-reliance on income from the sale of fossil fuels, the shipping and maritime transportation industry represents a significant untapped resource.

The Speaker added that the parliament has an obligation to advance policies and legislation to unlock the potential in the maritime sector and maximise the potential economic benefits to the Nigerian people. He, however, cautioned against over-regulation of the industry in carrying out this role.

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The Committee Chairman said the maritime sector is a foundation and catalyst to the growth of nations that possess marine endowments. 

She said Nigeria, by any standard, is well endowed by ocean coastline, rivers, and a rich marine bio-diversity. 

Ikpeazu said the fact that Nigeria’s marine pedigree has not translated into a vibrant maritime industry has remained a paradox to all. 

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She said as parliamentarians charged with legislating, oversight as well as representing the sector, they are poised to reverse this trend. 

“Not only are we focused on making the maritime sector a key alternative source of revenue and economic growth to our dwindling oil resources, we are also poised to develop a prosperous blue economy for our nation, akin to similar successes in other maritime nations around the world.

It is in this light that this public hearing is very important. It is an avenue to tap into the views and obtain inputs of both operators and regulators, whom in any case will be at the receiving end of their implementation, and other sector experts,” she said.

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