Wednesday 11 October 2023

Gboyega Oyetola: Pioneering Leadership in the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.....By Adebayo Adedeji

Since August 21 when Mr Adegboyega Oyetola was inaugurated as Minister of the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, he has spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives and signposted plan to implement progresives policies that would harness the potential of the vast marine resources and coastal areas in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

Recognising the importance of team work, the new minister, going by the record of his activities in the media, advented his journey into the ministry by receiving briefs from all the heads of parastatals and agencies under his stewardship. The former governor of Osun state took his time to listen to chief executives of key agencies outline their future to diversify the economy and make blue economy the best alternative to oil and gas. The high-profile agencies which interacted with the minister include, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, and the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding of Nigeria (CRFFN).

In his remarks, the Minister said the oceans are key to sustainable economic growth, environmental preservation, technology and innovation. He shared with the senior civil servants in attendance his thoughts on how to leverage his strong private sector experience to drive the ministry so our country can benefit immensely from the ocean economy, which according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, contributed $1.5tn to the global economy in 2010, and is projected to double in the next 7 years.

Given the huge size of Nigeria's coastline, which stretches for 420 nautical miles and its maritime interests which span the Gulf of Guinea, covering almost 574,800 square nautical miles, Oyetola explained that the ministry would tap the country's rich marine resources as part of the national economic framework by benchmarking a country like Norway which has successfully transitioned from an oil-based economy to a truly thriving and eco-system friendly blue economy.

Oyetola equally hinted that his vision is to ensure practical utilisation of inland rivers, lakes and waterways for cargo shipment and passenger transportation.

As the saying goes: seeing is believing, no sooner had Oyetola received the briefs from key agencies in his ministry than he visited some of the maritime assets located in Lagos, to properly appraise the situation of things with a view to taking practical steps to address them. On Monday, September 4, the Minister was at the popular Apapa and TinCan ports in Lagos for an inspection tour. He also visited the Lekki Deep Sea Port for a similar purpose.

Oyetola bemoaned the poor critical infrastructure at the ports, particularly the collapsed quays, noting that there was an urgent need for rehabilitation of such infrastructure.

While encouraging terminal operators to collaborate with government for the rehabilitation, the Minister promised to further engage the Ministers of Works and Transportation to intervene to bring back to life the deplorable access roads in the ports.

Parts of the promises made by Oyetola to stakeholders during the visitation include implementation of the Cargo Tracking Note and Single Window Project to enhance the efficiency of business operations at the ports; interfacing with the leadership of the Nigerian Customs Service over abandoment of 6,000 containers at Apapa and TinCan Island ports; tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; and harnessing marine tourism, safety and security.

Oyetola is also establishing strategic partnerships with international organisations and stakeholders in the maritime industry to strengthen the ministry's ability to address challenges and seize opportunities in this rapidly evolving sectors. Addressing the representatives of the British and the United States governments during their separate meetings with him in his office in Abuja, Oyetola emphasized the resolve of the Nigeria's government to create a conducive environment for business to boom.  The envoys expressed the willingness of their individual countries to offer technical assistance to Nigeria to combat illegal fishing in the country's waters and the dreaded sea pirates. 

Still on the activities designed to enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to deliver on its mandate, Mr Oyetola also held strategic meetings with critical stakeholders and industry experts such as Prof. Gunter Pauli, notable for his works on Blue Economy and advocacy for Sustainable Development; Dr Akinwumi Adesina ( President of the African Development Bank), consultants from KPMG and Nigeria's leading private sector think-tank, Nigeria Economic Summit Group led by its CEO-Designate, Dr Tayo Aduloju and the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, who he met on the margins of the 78th General Assembly of the United States hosted by the USA.

The Minister also used his participation at this year's council of ministers' meeting held in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, to advance his call for full ratification and domestication of all relevant maritime laws.

No doubt, Mr Oyetola has demonstrated exceptional leadership competence to manage a strategic government business. It is only hoped the spirit and energy invested thus far will be sustained to deliver cutting-edge solutions as envisaged by President Tinubu.

No comments:

Post a Comment