Reps’ panel rues loss of N3 trillion yearly on high seas
• ‘Navy confiscates N420.1 billion worth of diesel in 2016’
• Nigeria, Portugal partner to establish ocean research institute
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Navy, Mr. Abdussamad Dasuki, has expressed concern over the loss of about N3 trillion yearly within the country’s territorial waters.
Dasuki, who spoke during the budget defence session of the Nigerian Navy (NN), noted that the amount, equivalent of about $10 billion, is lost yearly due to the inability of Navy personnel to discharge their duties effectively.
Acknowledging that the Navy plays a key strategic role in the economy, he assured that the committee would ensure adequate allocation for the NN in the 2017 budget to curtail the activities of economic saboteurs in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, told the lawmakers that his outfit confiscated crude oil and illegally-refined diesel worth N420.1 billion in 2016.
The Naval chief, who was accompanied by scores of naval top brass, noted that the feat underlined the fact that the N2.512 billion overhead budgetary allocation to his outfit in the 2016 budget was well-utilised.
He said that with improved funding, the service would surely be able to enhance its operational profile while proactively tackling criminality in the nation’s maritime domain.
He disclosed that among the seized items were 810,725 metric tonnes of crude oil, 1,078,104 metric tonnes of seized illegally-refined diesel, destruction of 181 illegal refineries, 38 barges, 263 wooden boats and the arrest of 784 suspects within the period under review.
In another development, the Nigerian and Portuguese governments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly establish the Atlantic International Research Institute for the study, exploration and management of the ocean resources.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, signed on behalf of Nigeria while Portuguese Minister of Science and Technology and Higher Education, Prof. Manuel Heitor, signed on behalf of Portugal.
According to Onu, the establishment of the research centre would help to build stronger relationship with Portugal in the area of science and technology, adding: “Utilising science and technology will create a lot of wealth and reduce poverty.”
Heitor said it is of importance to share knowledge to create a common future for humanity, adding that the institute would afford sharing of knowledge, not only between Portugal and Nigeria, but also among other countries of the world.
“There is need for institutional building, stronger higher education, incentives for both public and private sectors and international co-operation. We should look at the future in an open way,” he said.He added that the proposed research institute would also lead to south-south co-operation as well as co-operation with the north.