Nigeria continues to lose up to N2 trillion annually in capital flight to foreign countries which own vessels used to lift about 150 million tonnes of cargo, including oil products, the Indigenous Shipowners’ Association of Nigeria (ISAN) Chairman, Dr. Isaac Jolopamo, said yesterday.
Jolapamo, who disclosed this at the association’s Extraordinary General Meeting held in Lagos yesterday, explained that the industry, as well as the country, was also losing the employment of some five million people who would have been engaged if local vessels were being engaged to lift the country’s oil and non-oil cargoes.
“It is disheartening to note that Nigeria has failed to take advantage of the vast potentials in the industry to get our youths employed. Nobody can solve our problems better than ourselves,” he told fellow shippers and other maritime stakeholders at the meeting.
While stressing the importance of the maritime industry, the ISAN boss noted that Nigeria’s contemporaries a few decades ago, such as India, Indonesia and Malaysia had used the maritime industry to improve their economies, adding that no nation that neglected its maritime sector ever developed.
He urged the members of the association to focus on how to create jobs for the youths, despite the daunting challenges in getting jobs in the country’s maritime domain.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi who was represented by Ibrahim Zelani, an Executive Director in charge of cabotage and labour at the agency, explained that a strong and united ISAN would move the industry forward for the benefit of the country.
While pledging NIMASA’s support and commitment to implementing cabotage fully, the agency’s boss said, “We are interested in what is happening in ISAN. We would monitor your activities and support you. Without ISAN there cannot be NIMASA.”
ISAN recently secured a foreign credit facility of $1.8 billion (N288 billion) with which to acquire vessels for the lifting of crude oil and for the funding of its national carrier.
While appealing to the federal government to use its political will to implement the Local Content Bill that was passed into law in 2010, the ISAN Chairman said that his business association had put in place measures that would enable it participate fully in lifting the country’s oil.
Jolapamo said that the government had approved for ISAN a national carrier status, an indication that the association could now acquire Nigerian flagged vessels for the lifting of petroleum products, adding that ISAN was in a better position to turn the nation’s maritime industry to a hub for revenue generation and employment opportunities.
“The Nigerian maritime industry is capable of generating N1.6 trillion yearly as revenue and could provide employment to over five million youths in the country. At ISAN we have identified 20 newly built vessels that were meant for the Nigerian waters.
that could be used for its crude oil lifting operation,” he said.