Bashir Jamoh, director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said Nigeria needs to maintain good maritime security to earn a portion of the opportunities inherent in the global Blue Economy resource valued at $2.5 trillion.
Jamoh said this in Lagos on Monday at the opening of a 5-day training workshop for journalists and media practitioners organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in collaboration with NIMASA.
He said there are several opportunities in the blue economy that go beyond shipping, import and export trade to include fishery, tourism, and aquaculture and wind energy among others.
According to him, having good maritime security will ensure that Nigeria will not only struggle to earn a portion of the $2.5 trillion potential but will also not struggle to benefit from the estimated 350 million global job opportunities in the blue economy.
Jamoh said Nigeria has done a lot to change the narrative of maritime security within the Gulf of Guinea such that the only thing remaining is to continue to maintain the tempo.
In terms of infrastructure, he said the Federal Government has invested a huge sum of money in infrastructure for combating insecurity on the waterway through the Deep Blue Project.
“Nigeria is also enabling good governance. It compasses ocean governance and policy intervention starting with the creation of the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry which will focus on developing the sector in order to downplay the nation’s dependence on oil. Legislation and policies must be put in place to ensure that Nigeria benefits from the opportunities in the blue economy.
“However, we cannot achieve all these without the media because it is the media that will correct the negative reportage on maritime security in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea region, focus the attention of international investors on the available opportunities and enable the establishment of good judiciary system that will attract investor confidence back to Nigeria,” he added.
Earlier, Kwesi Aning, a professor and one of the facilitators, said throughout the last decade, topics related to maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea, illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, marine pollution and climate crisis among other forms of threats to safety and security in the maritime domain, have increasingly been secured in the mainstream media coverage.
“In the Gulf of Guinea, most coastal states depend heavily on revenue from marine-based commerce. At the same time, sea lanes in the region are of international importance and for that matter; incidences of attacks on commercial vessels, oil installations, fishing vessels and marine pollutants are interpreted differently by the multiple national and international stakeholders,” he explained.
Citing an example, international shipping insurance premiums rise in view of piracy-inspired perceptions of insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea waters leading to the high cost of doing business for African traders, who use maritime transport.
According to him, IUU fishing can make fishing unattractive to persons in the Gulf of Guinea coastal communities who live off the sea for their livelihoods.
“Such developments could affect unemployment rates in coastal communities and worsen the situation of idle youth capable of resorting to all forms of alternative means of surviving including participation in maritime-based crimes,” he added.
He pointed out that the story of maritime security today in the region is beginning to change for the better due to the pioneering work of Nigeria through the NIMASA and Navy, which has seen a reduction in maritime piracy incidents since 2021.
He however urged the media always to tell positive reports of maritime security in the region.