The size of capital drained from the maritime industry is alarming, according to members of the Nigerian Maritime Security Association (MSPAN) who spoke exclusively with BusinessDay at the Port Harcourt International Airport, weekend.
A retired commodore, Fred Oyedele, who serves as spokesman for the association, expressed the concern when he said the rate of capital flight in the industry was very huge and was better seen than imagined.
According to Oyedele, the security of the Nigeria Maritime Security and Water Ways is nothing to write home about. Because of this, he said the Nigerian coastal and waterways had been turned into what he described as ‘the survival of the fittest.’
He pointed out that the scope of the coastal and waterways was large and good enough for Nigerians to really tap from, but noted that Nigerians were not reaping from them because of ignorance, lack of awareness and security challenges. “The Nigerian maritime land scope and the Cabotage regime are very good and large, but Nigerians are not benefiting much from them,” he said.
Instead, foreigners were at present having a field day at it, making their money and leaving little or nothing behind.
Members of the association, he explained, were in Port Harcourt to brainstorm and fashion out an end to the loss and how the nation could benefit more from the industry, especially as it related to Nigerians.
“What we intend to achieve now is on how we could harness all our human resources and see through our laws with the view to improving on them and possibly blocking some loop holes,” he said.
The Nigerian Security Partners Association was partnering the Navy, NIMASA, and other security agencies in their task to ensure that Nigerians and indeed the nation would benefit from the lucrative maritime industry in Nigeria, he said.
“What we have decided to do now is to change the local content vote, which is small, and then create awareness among our business community and make them see reason to invest in the Nigerian Maritime Industry,” he disclosed.
He explained that because the Nigerian local content vote was small, foreigners had taken advantage of it and were investing in the industry and making huge profits but repatriating them to their countries, leaving little or nothing behind.
The association, he disclosed further, had sent a ‘Save Our Soul message’ (SOS) to the Federal Government to do more and ensure that the Nigerian Coastal Region and the Water Ways are made safe for our people to benefit more from it.
To him, the security of the Nigerian Water Ways is nothing to write home about because its water ways and coastal territories is rated as the worst in the world, apart from that of Somalia.
The security of the Nigerian Water Ways he advised must be made safe for the nation to benefit maximally from the maritime industry, pointing out that only the Navy, cannot do it alone and therefore must partier with the private maritime security organisations to have control of our territorial waters.