Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers has commended the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for designing and pursuing a blue economy strategy to replace the current oil economy.
This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Philip Kyanet, Head, Corporate Communications, NIMASA.
Wike gave the commendation on Wednesday when he received the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, who paid him a courtesy visit in Port Harcourt.
The governor said NIMASA’s plan for sustainable use of Nigeria’s abundant maritime resources was in line with the country’s economic diversification drive.
Wike also commended Jamoh for the new initiative of harnessing ocean resources to serve as an alternative revenue drive that would end the mono-economy status of Nigeria.
He said: “Let me commend the director-general for taking the bull by the horns; by coming to visit to do the right thing.
“Let me thank you as one of those who have looked into the future that Nigeria cannot continue to depend solely on one product and that is oil.
“There comes a time that the wells will dry up and when the wells are dried, what is the alternative? Is it at that time we will begin to seek for an alternative?
“So, you are on the right track by identifying that we should go for the blue economy,” Wike said.
The governor pledged to partner NIMASA in the area of human capital development.
He also proposed the adoption of Government Sea School, Isaka, in Okrika Local Government Area of the state as an institution for seafarers’ training.
“This will help the industry and create a lot of manpower for our people and employment,” he said.
He expressed the state’s readiness to partner NIMASA on the Deep Blue Project, saying it would help to enhance security and boost youths capacity.
The governor said the state government would constitute a committee to liaise with NIMASA on the project.
Wike also requested for return of the agency’s Cabotage Department to Rivers, which had earlier been moved to Lagos.
He said his administration had procured gunboats for security agencies to assist them to ensure security on the waterways and as well boost business activities in the maritime environment.
Jamoh, however, called for greater involvement of the littoral states in the implementation of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project.
He noted that the security scheme, domiciled in NIMASA and being executed in conjunction with the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies, aimed to check piracy and armed robbery in Nigeria’s waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
The NIMASA Director General said he had visited the eight littoral states to seek more participation from them in the blue economy initiative and the Deep Blue Project.
He urged them to set up committees to work with the agency in execution of the economic and security plans.
Jamoh appealed to the Rivers government to set up a committee to work with the agency to identify the state’s areas of comparative advantage in harnessing its vast ocean resources.
“The agency commenced the issue of blue economy to ensure that we have something we will fall back on. Let us give ourselves at least within the next 10 years, so we can develop our ocean resources,” he said.
The director-general appreciated Wike’s efforts in rebuilding Rivers into reckoning with tremendous investments in infrastructure, health, education and the judiciary that had bettered the lives of the people.