‘Maritime Sector Will Witness Rapid Transformation In Shortest Possible Time’ – Minister

 …Tasks Maritime Editors On Patriotic, Objective Agenda-Setting Roles 

By Monica UZENWOKE, Lagos.

The Minister of the newly created Marine and Blue Economy Ministry, His Excellency, Hon Adegboyega Oyetola has assured maritime stakeholders that the sector would witness rapid transformation in shortest possible time under his watch as the pioneer minister. 

Oyetola gave this assurance while delivering keynote address at the Silver Jubilee Anniversary and Award Ceremony of the League Of Maritime Editors held on Thursday in Lagos. 

In his speech, the Minister began by commending the organsiers for hosting the event, especially for choosing a very germane theme for the occasion which he described as apt in view of the economic realities of the country.

“I should describe the theme for your Silver Jubilee Anniversary: ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential in Marine & Blue Economy/The New Customs 2023 Act And its implication on Trade’ as apt because it will afford this august gathering the opportunity to examine the contributions of the Marine and Blue Economy Sector to trade, commercial development and growth of our nation’s economy. 

“This is also the basis of the ministerial deliverables given by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR to me and my ministry.  We have since taken steps to involve all the agencies under the Ministry to key into this mandate”.

He also disclosed that his Ministry has enjoyed a good working relationship with the league of Maritime Editors.

“I must admit that my Ministry has been enjoying a symbiotic relationship with the Maritime Editors with agenda-setting for the maritime sector of which my Ministry is the leading Policy making body.  I wish to add that most of the suggestions of the Maritime Editors were received in good faith by the Management of the Ministry of which I am a principal figure.  

“Even though I am a pioneer minister specifically for the Sector, I have set up machinery and structures for the Sector and made all principal actors and agencies irrevocably key into realizing the potential of the Sector for job creation, social development, increased contributions to national growth and economic development. 

“I have given my commitment to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR and the nation that the Marine and Blue Economy Sector will witness a rapid transformation within the shortest possible time.

“Your suggestions and recommendations whenever you evaluate the industry at the policy-making level, sometimes receive your suggestions from critical perspectives.  However, we do not fail to distil and apply the best of your suggestions, thus leading to plausible progress in policy application in the maritime sector”, 

Speaking further, the Minister challenged the maritime editors to show patriotism and objectivity in their agenda -setting roles in the industry, adding that his regime would continue to cherish and nuture the synergy between the body and his ministry. 

“It is on the earlier mentioned bases that I challenge your League to be patriotic and realistic when setting agenda not just for those at the policy-making level but also for the agencies, noting the ever-present challenges to a sector which has not taken the front stage of attention in the past, but which we are all trying to bring up to be at par with developments in many of the frontline maritime and blue economy nations of the world.

“I submit that the partnership between the League of Maritime Editors and my Ministry is such that we will cherish and wish to nurture it to an all-time high as much as time, resources and other policy determinants will allow us, he stated.

Meanwhile, earlier in his welcome address, the President, League Of Maritime Editors, Chief Timothy Okorocha highlighted the importance of the occasion and also commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for unbundling the Transportation Ministry by creating the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy. 

He however urged the President to exercise the much needed political will to address key ports infrastructural issues, and also see to the disbursement of the long awaited Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF). 

“As serious minders of the maritime industry, conversant with its official, operational and evolutionary changes and progress in the past 25 years, permit me to on behalf of the League congratulate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the unbundling of the Transportation Ministry and the establishment of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

“The League salutes Mr. President’s bold steps and visionary outlook, and do hereby with utmost respect urge him to exercise the required political will to push farther by ensuring that the often routine talk about the rehabilitation of collapsed critical port infrastructure receives urgent executive attention.

“As development partners, the League looks forward to the effective participation of the respective agencies in the current administration’s renewed agenda template; and want to see the Nigerian Ports Authority move away from the ritual of endless talk and lamentations into doing the needful, the reconstruction of broken down asset and infrastructure. 

“The League further urges President Tinubu to provide the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Hon. Adegboyega Oyetola and his ministry, the needed impetus to bring to an end, the unending rat race on the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, CVFF, established since 2003; to jump start a new lease of life for the capacity development of our indigenous ship-owners, and to enable Nigeria participate meaningfully in our seaborne trade; especially with the proposed commencement of the implementation policy of the blue economy.

Group picture of members of League of Maritime Editors during their 25th Anniversary Ceremony in Lagos on Thursday

“As insiders, the League over the years has seen the genuine struggle by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and its leadership, especially under the present administration to disburse the CVFF in its commitment to grow local capacity building, but observe the otherwise disruptive tendencies within the field of political play.

“We appeal to Mr. President to use his good office to prevail on the relevant authorities to respond to the needs of our industry as there can be no better time than now.

Speaking further, Okorocha who appreciated the Minister for honoring the invitation, was also quick to remind him of the onerous task before him as the pioneer minister for the new ministry. Adding that the minister is expected to be more of a doer than a talker; even as he assured him of the support and partnership of the maritime media through out his regime. 

According to him, “At this juncture, may I assume the singular honour to appreciate the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Hon, Adegboyega Oyetola, our Special Guest of Honour and Chief Host, for identifying with us today.  

“The League is aware of His Excellency’s important pioneering task of positioning the new ministry into achieving industry specific growth projections; we want to assure you Sir, that the League and maritime media in general will work with you and your ministry, and agencies under your purview. 

Prince Olayiwola Shittu receiving a Special Recognition Award at the League of Maritime Editors’ 25th Anniversary Ceremony in Lagos on Thursday

“The League wants  to urge you Sir, to be more sector specific in your programmes and to crave depth as you pursue the implementation of the blue economy by engaging and partnering with stakeholders as at when necessary, to avoid creating gaps.

“Standing on both sides of the divide, we want to respectfully inform you that industry stakeholders and Nigerians at large look up to you to be more of a doer than a sayer; a path your predecessor vigorously explored during his short but eventful stint to the joy of port users” Okorocha intoned.

Highlights of the event included, Paper Presentations and Panel Discussions as well as Award Presentations to notable maritime dignitaries in celebration of the 25th Silver Jubilee Anniversary of the League Of Maritime Editors. 

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