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Insecurity threatens maritime’s contribution to economy

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National President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Iju Tony Nwabunike

The National President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tony Nwabunike, has said the country’s maritime domain suffered setbacks of general insecurity due to lack of priority attention, inadequate security platforms like patrol boats, aircrafts, supporting technology gadgets as well as an absence of adequate personnel to implement waterway security measure.

Speaking at the eighth edition of the Nigeria Yearly Transport Lecture organised by Transport Day Newspaper at the weekend, the ANLCA President, said piracy, sea robbery, oil theft and kidnapping on waters have been copiously recorded in the domain that should be contributing to the nation’s economic wellbeing.

While delivering a paper on ‘Blue Economy: Pathway for Nigeria’s Economic Diversification, the ANLCA President, Nwabunike said there was an array of untapped opportunities holding back not less than 300,000 immediate jobs if Nigeria’s maritime and inland waters are safe for legitimate business activities.

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Nwabunike said government at all levels to engage youths in coastal communities to support security operatives in the fight against sea robbers and other criminal elements along the inland waterways.

He affirmed that the 853km long Nigeria coastline runs through seven of the Southern States of the Federation, Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers bordering the Atlantic Ocean, pointing out that these are aside other states that are linked by inland waters for copious socio-cultural and commercial activities.

Nwabunike further pointed out that the safety of vessels, cargoes and crews in the maritime space have direct impacts on the overall economy since the maritime sector is critical in the areas of trade, investment, employment and recreation.

“I am almost tempted to say that our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is no longer exclusive to us because the people I choose to call maritime bandits are threatening our space.

“I am aware that the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, is rising to the occasion with planned deployment of advanced security assets to energise our blue economy. I believe it will work if consciously sustained. This they tagged the ‘Deep Blue Project’.

“It is anticipated that this move will go a long way in fighting piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea and our country’s entire territorial waters.

“Also, government should, as a matter of policy, involve youths of coastal communities in a kind of Civilian Task Force to support the Navy and other security agencies in nipping maritime insecurity in the bud,” he said.

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