Steve Agbota, [email protected] 08033302331
The enforcement of effective policies to drive development of a country’s economy remains a critical component of recovery in this era of general socio-economic slowdown.
Overall however, the lack of tailor-made policies in specific areas of the maritime industry has been the bane of the subsector. Even where such policies and laws exist, there is usually the lack of political will to enforce them.
Over these years, Nigeria has coordinated maritime legal instruments for employment generation and wealth creation based on these instruments. The three legal instruments include; Coastal and inland shipping (Cabotage) Act 5 of 2003, the Nigeria Maritime Administrative and Safety Agency Act No. 17 of 2007, and Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act No. 2 of 2010. Since the enactment of the three legislative instruments meant for the development of indigenous capacity in the maritime sector, there is no visible implementable activities in line with the provision of the Acts.
Conversely, Nigeria is yet to find its feet due to the complete absence of developmental strategy contained in the various Acts, which is to trigger the activities of indigenous operators and generate employment.
Nigeria as a maritime nation needs to speedily develop, organisational architecture and responsibility to ensure the continued growth of its economy in an increasingly dangerous and competitive environment. The three legal instruments enacted to build indigenous capacity and generate employment, were left without implementation by government agencies and this has adversely affected the growth of the Nigerian maritime sector by giving multinationals in the nation’s maritime trade an upper hand. Despite the fact that all these Acts were enacted to create employment for Nigerians and develop indigenous operators, the lack of effective implementation has given the foreigners an opportunity to still dominate the workforce of the maritime sector.
For this reason, foreigners have been responsible for lifting Nigeria’s crude oil over all these years due to lack of national carriers.
In a letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by the National President, Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) Mr. Lucky Amiwero, titled, “The Implementable Priorities For The Development Of Indigenous Operation And Employment Generation In The Maritime Industry,” for instance, the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act No. 2 of 2010 clearly states that Nigeria’s independent operators shall be given first consideration in the award of oil blocks, oil fields licenses, and oil lifting licences and in all projects for which contract is to be awarded in Nigeria oil and gas industry (section 3-(1).
There shall be exclusive consideration of Nigeria indigenous service companies, which demonstrates ownership of equipment, Nigerian personnel capacity to execute such work (section 3-(2). Subject to section 10(1) (a First consideration shall be given to services provided from within Nigeria and to goods manufactured in Nigeria and section 10- (b) Act states, Nigerian shall be given the first consideration of employment and training in any project executed by any operator or project promoter (section 28(1).
However, Amiwero said that the waiver clause brought about a huge set back to the development of indigenous operation and the creation of employment. He explained that the waiver clause in Section 9,10,11, 12 and 13 of the Act allows the Minister to issue waiver on every component of the cabotage regime, which reduces the participation of the indigenous operators in the cabotage activities and allows the continuous domination of foreign operators in both the nation’s waterborne commerce and cabotage regime.
He cautioned: “The continued existence of the waiver clause in the Act, will rob the nation off the following; domination of freight component by foreign operators capital flight of huge transfer of foreign exchange out of the country due to dominant power as a result of the waiver.
“Lack of employment of Nigerian operators due to non participation of indigenous operators as a result of the waiver, lack of ownership of maritime infrastructure by indigenous operators as a result of non operation due to waiver and lack of skill due the continued use of the foreign operators due to waiver.”
He slated that Nigeria needs to develop the maritime sector by speedily implementing the three legal instruments, which Coastal and inland shipping (Cabotage) Act 5 of 2003, the Nigeria Maritime Administrative and Safety Agency Act No. 17 of 2007, and Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act No. 2 of 2010 in order to develop indigenous operators and create employment for Nigerians.
He therefore recommended that national carrier status be developed and facilitated by NIMASA for the expansion of fleet for the carriage of shared cargo based on the Act.
On national carriers, he said it is the agency (NIMASA) that will develop and implement policies and programmes, which will facilitate the growth of the local capacity in ownership, management and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure as contained in section 22 (K) of NIMASA ACT 17 of 2007.
He explained: “Carriage of bulk or liquid cargo must be initiated by NIMASA to empower the indigenous operators reference to the statute. 50 per cent of cargo to and from Nigeria, the sharing ratio must be implemented to galvanise and kick start the participation of indigenous operators.
He noted that Nigeria flagged vessel to carry 50 per cent cargo generated through technical assistance, NIMASA must work out modalities for proper implementation in conjunction with the Federal Government othe technical assistance policy as provided by law.
He stated that the carriage of crude and petroleum products to and from Nigeria must be implemented to build capacity and generate employment in line with the law.
In his words: “Administrative policies for the development of shipping in general, development and implementation policies and programmes, which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, management and construction of ship and maritime infrastructures.
Others include the: “Review and remove the waiver clause on cabotage of section 9,10 11, 12 &13 to build capacity and generate employment. Implement the provision on towage, carriage of petroleum product, navigation in inland waters, shipyard and ship and manning so as to build capacity and generate employment and implement the local content on labour requirement, contract and manufacture of the local content.”
He said the Nigeria Content Monitoring Board in conjunction with NIMASA shall have powers to enforce compliance and relevant section of coastal and inland shipping (Cabotage Act) in relation to matters pertaining to Nigeria content development, Section (105).