The Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Akwa Ibom, Mr Enoh Uyoh, says maritime business remains the 21st-century major driver of the nation’s economy with abundant benefits.
Uyoh made the assertion in his address during a Maritime Business/International Trade Sensitisation Forum organised by Bright Flow Logistics Services and Nigeria Private Sector Alliance in collaboration with NOA in Uyo.
He said that the maritime industry in Nigeria had remained very important to economic growth of the nation.
“The Nigerian economy is classified as a mixed economy and the maritime industry of Nigeria is a major sector of the Nigerian economy considering the country’s status as major oil-producing exporting country.
“Maritime trade has played a key role in Nigeria’s economic development. It accounts for about 95 per cent of the vehicular means of Nigeria’s International Trade,” Uyoh said.
According to him, with the siting of the deep seaport at Ibaka, illegal fishing which has led to the country’s loss of approximately 70 million dollars annually will be forestalled.
“Nigeria loses approximately 70 million dollars to illegal fishing by the Chinese and European trawlers in our territorial waters.
“The siting of Ibom Deep Seaport at Ibaka in Mbo Local Government, will to a large extend provide the much-needed security in the region as much attention will be paid to the security of vessels.
“And maritime activities by local fishermen will receive a boost,” he said.
Uyoh expressed hope that the seaport, when operational, would provide job opportunities to indigenes.
He called on the host communities to enable a level playing ground for business to thrive in the area for the benefits of all and that of the state.
Earlier, the Comptroller Shehu Gana, Nigeria Custom Service, Cross River/Akwa Ibom Free Trade Zone,Tinapa resort, Calabar Area Command, said that Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom had the deepest seaport in Nigeria.
He urged that the seaport be utilised as it had more than 15 metres depth and could accommodate over three merchant ships.
Gana, was represented by the Assistant Comptroller, Jude Azubuike.
“If Ibaka Deep Seaport is well harnessed and developed, Akwa Ibom State economy will be more than China. There is no ship that cannot enter Ibaka.
“Places like Lagos, Port Harcourt and others are channels through which most of the ships move there.
“Some were not built as seaport but high-sea where goods, containers, vehicles are transported to the main Port. But, Ibaka has the deepest seaport in Nigeria,” he said.
He said that if the Seaport was actualised, the state would have the biggest place in the world trade hub of Africa, adding that it would generate a greater employment opportunities for the masses.
In his welcome remarks, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bright Flow Logistics Services, Mrs Aniefiok Iton, said that the workshop was preparing people for maritime business to support the industrialisation drive of the state government.
She added that the sensitisation workshop was to create awareness of the opportunities in the maritime sector, stressing that people must get involved in the activities of the marine environment.
“Ocean that surrounds Akwa Ibom cannot be found anywhere else in Nigeria. It has the capacity to accommodate mother vessels from far Asia, Europe and other parts of the world.
“As a Mariner, who has been in the maritime industry for many years, I know that the employment opportunities, wealth among others to be created from the seaport will be massive,” she said.