The new maritime security infrastructure being built by the Nigerian government tagged the Deep Blue Sea project and re-modernisation of railways across the country will boost its economy, says the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Addressing the media in Lagos during the World Maritime Day celebrations themed ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community’, Amaechi said the Deep Blue Sea project, which aims to secure the country’s territorial waters up to the Gulf of Guinea, would increase investors’ confidence in the country’s maritime sector and boost the economy.
Ten women were honoured at the occasion for their contributions to the maritime sector.
Also, 10 students, who excelled in an essay competition organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency as part of activities of the day, were awarded NIMASA’s educational grants at the occasion.
“With this security infrastructure, the revenues of the agencies in the maritime sector and that of the country will increase.
“Currently, the maritime sector is returning less than N100bn. They should be doing more than that; they should be returning above N300bn. But in terms of the economy, the maritime industry is contributing quite a lot,” the minister said.
He also spoke on the government’s plan to link the railway system to the seaports, to integrate the maritime sector into the rail structure to smoothen movement of goods to and from the ports.
“All seaports in Nigeria must be connected by rail; that is a policy of government. We have put in place a 25-year modernisation programme for the rail system. With the master plan, we have taken rail from where the past government stopped into the seaports.
“For instance, the current Lagos-Kano rail line began from Ebute Metta. But when we came, we started another line from Ebute Metta to Apapa seaport. With this, when you bring in your goods, you turn them to the rail that takes them to the hinterland. The one from Lagos to Calabar will link the Calabar, Port Harcourt and Onne seaports, and so on,” he added.
Director-general of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, who made a presentation on the measures put up by the Federal Government to tackle maritime security in the country, expressed the hope that women would play a major role in the execution of the anchor security scheme, the Deep Blue Sea project.
His words, “We have various components in the coordinated maritime security solution, and the female gender is already part of the project.
“Aside land, air and marine-based assets being acquired, we have an intelligence gathering component where the women are already playing a major role. We recognise gender equality as one of the key platforms on which we can build a sustainable solution to security challenges in the Nigerian maritime sector.”
According to him, the Deep Blue Sea project is a multi-pronged approach towards tackling insecurity in the country’s territorial waters and the entire Gulf of Guinea.
It involves the acquisition of assets, such as fast intervention vessels, surveillance aircraft and other facilities that will serve the goals of targeted enforcement, he said, adding that the project includes the training of personnel from the security services to man the assets.
“The objective is to build an integrated surveillance and security architecture that will comprehensively combat maritime crime and criminalities in Nigeria,” he maintained.
Speaking on the theme of this year’s WMD, Amaechi commended the leadership of government agencies in the maritime sector for their commitment to capacity development.
He restated government’s commitment to gender equality based on competence, since women in Nigeria had shown the capacity to assist government to lift more citizens out of poverty.
The minister stated, “Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, has excelled as a global technocrat not because of her gender, but due to her knowledge and ability to deliver on assignments given to her.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to giving capable women opportunity to serve Nigeria. Women should commit more to capacity development, as they are the most intelligent creation by God.”
Also speaking at the occasion, Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, called for more scholarship and mentorship schemes to boost female participation in the shipping sector.
Saraki, a former senator, noted that the achievements of women in the maritime sector had shown that if given the opportunity, the Nigerian woman would excel.
“We want more scholarships for the girl child in Nigeria. Women who have been given the opportunity in Nigeria have excelled, just as we have shown in the Nigerian Ports Authority where Hadiza Usman has made tremendous difference, being the first female managing director of that parastatal,” she stated.
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