Tuesday 28 May 2024

Tinubu 1st Year Anniversary: Oyetola reels out monumental achievements in 8months... ..says Marine and Blue Economy Ministry Records 92 percent Revenue Increment in 2024

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola CON on Tuesday disclosed that the Ministry under his watch had recorded 92 percent revenue increment in the First Quarter of this year (2024), noting that the Ministry has been contributing tremendously to the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He said 242.8billion had been generated within the First Quarter of this year.

This is just as the Minister rendered his stewardship within the period under review and reeled out many of the life-changing monumental achievements made in the last eight months of being at the helm of affairs of the newly-created ministry. 

The financial records of the critical agencies under the Ministry as presented by the Minister showed that a total sum of 82,987,439,908 was realised by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in the 1st Quarter of 2023 but went up to 170,493,192,630 within the same period in 2024. Similarly, a total sum of 37,405,830,219 was made by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in the 1st Quarter of 2023 but earned 62,154,237,671 within the same period in 2024. Also, Nigerian Shipper's Council (NSC) recorded 4,878,647,275 in the 1st Quarter of 2023 but increased it to 8,675,726,282 in the 1st Quarter of 2024 while National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) made 1,087,157,340 in the 1st Quarter of 2023 but had 1,488,588,802 in the same period in 2024 totalling 242,811,745,385 revenue earned within the first quarter of 2024.

Speaking at the ministerial briefing session organised as part of events, lined up to mark the 1st year anniversary of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in Abuja, Oyetola said the ministry was poised to providing a sustainable revenue base for Nigeria as part of efforts to actualising the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Tinubu under the sector. 

The Minister who described the creation of the ministry as a 'child of necessity' attributed many of the achievements made within eight months to holistic approach given to governance saying the feat was made possible through some of the deliberate steps taken by the ministry upon assumption of office.

He said: "This feat was made possible through some of the deliberate steps we took upon assumption of office. For instance, in December 2023, we held a stakeholders’ engagement to examine the challenge of extortion and illegal checkpoints on the port access roads. We did that because we are determined to ensure that players in the industry do not lose money due to congestion and traffic gridlock. I am happy to report that, today, sanity has returned to the Tin-Can Island Port corridor as the perennial traffic gridlock on the Mile 2 and Tin-Can in Lagos has since given way, thus putting an end to the multi-billion-naira yearly loss to Lagos ports traffic gridlock, which defied all known solutions for close to a decade. 

"The increase in revenue performance has also been due to a 10% increase in the number of vessels calling at our ports due to strategic investments in port infrastructure in the last one-year, mooring boats, patrol vessels and dredging of the port’s channels. We have also tightened revenue assurance by deploying technology.

"Similarly, we completed some of the projects we inherited, including the Funtua Dry Port, Port Access Roads in Onne and the rehabilitation of some access roads in Tin Can and Apapa ports. At this juncture, I must commend my colleague and brother in the Federal Ministry of Works, His Excellency, Senator Dave Umahi, for promptly responding to our distress call, when I wrote and personally visited him in the office on the need to assist in fixing 15 roads in our ports across the country to help increase ports efficiency and aid the country’s economic growth. I wrote and visited him in December 2023.  By February this year, some of the roads had been fixed, while work is still ongoing on some others. 

"Owing to our determination to improve cargo dwell time at our ports, we were at Onne Port two months ago, to commission a 4.8km road and Mooring Boats. Mooring Boats are used to safety berth vessels calling at various pilotage districts. The mooring boats are our way of further enhancing the security and safety of our maritime space. As a Ministry, providing the enabling atmosphere for investors to patronise the Eastern Ports of Onne, Rivers, Warri, and Calabar is top on our agenda.

 "Long before the Department of Fishery was formally moved to the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy vide a Presidential Order recently, we realised from the onset that, apart from the modernisation and rehabilitation of our ports, fishing is one sure way to create more jobs and reduce poverty through the value chains. To this end, we have reached an understanding with an indigenous Delta Systematics Group, for enhanced fish production that would position Nigeria as a global leader in fisheries. We shall soon be signing an MOU to drive home the initiative", Oyetola explained.

The former Osun State Governor who attributed the achievements to the clear vision of President Tinubu to reposition Nigeria affirmed that the Ministry had commenced the rollout of some initiatives, and he gave them as: "the commissioning of revenue enhancement studies focused on the Ministry, its departments, and agencies aimed to further identify and block leakages while identifying recommendation to expand current revenue sources; automation of revenue collection processes to eliminate bottlenecks and enhance transparency and accountability; deploying revenue assurance technologies to ensure accurate and complete billings in line with established contracts and services rendered; ensuring the efficient utilisation of existing assets through concessions to the private sector and public private partnerships as required as well as investment promotion campaigns targeting both domestic and international investors for investments in the marine and blue economy sub-sectors respectively."

The Minister highlighted the development of a national policy on marine and blue economy; improved revenue earnings; port infrastructure and connectivity, fisheries and aquaculture; port operational efficiency; maritime security and safety; blue economy development; , shipping and maritime trade; international protocols and engagements as parts of his interventions in placing the new ministry on a surer footing of socioeconomic stability, growth and development.

According to him, the development of a national policy on marine and blue economy was aimed at creating the enabling environment required for the sector to thrive, hence, the need for engaging all sub-sectors' stakeholders, experts, academia, and research institutions in assessing the current state of the sector. 

He added that after the assessment, key policy thrusts and goals were defined, and a comprehensive four-year Key Results Framework and Implementation Plan to guide the Ministry and its Agencies, developed. 

As to the improved revenue earnings, the minister disclosed that his ministry is currently implementing a 3-pronged strategy that is focused on blocking revenue leakages; enhancing revenue generation from established sources and identifying and rolling out new blue economy revenue sources. 

On port infrastructure and connectivity, Oyetola noted that the ministry had contributed tremendously in the promotion of inland dry ports to continuously decongesting the seaports, deliver a net decrease in transportation costs and environmental challenges, and promote overall improvement in public safety through reduced road accidents.

"We have finalised the Funtua Inland Dry Port which was commissioned on 9th May 2024. This will improve the ease of doing business and increase our share of the Sahel trade.

"As to seaport infrastructure upgrade,  fund has been sourced for the comprehensive mordernisation and reconstruction of Tin Can Island and Apapa Port Complex, and discussions are on for sourcing funds for the rehabilitation of Onne, Rivers, Delta, and Calabar port complexes as the port modernisation projects are expected to generate at least 20,000 jobs, decongest the ports, and improve ease of doing business.

"Alongside the port rehabilitation project, we are also modernising port equipment to as we strategically position to reclaim our ports as the maritime hub for West Africa. For example, we recently acquired the first-of-its-kind in Africa marine crafts such as the recently commissioned two units of Azimuth Stern Drive (ASD) 8213 model 80 Ton Bollard Pull Tugboats to enable the berthing of very large vessels of 300 metres LOA (length overall) and above. 

"The recurrent dredging of the channel to the various ports and terminals have continued, this has allowed bigger vessels such as MSC Maureen to dock, and will going forward improve our cargo throughput and share of the West Africa maritime trade and our collaboration with Federal Ministry of Words and Federal Ministry of Transport has yielded the rehabilitation of access roads and connection ports to rail network respectively to reduce congestion and transit times. 

"On Lagos-Calabar Superhighway, the Ministry commends the great initiative of Mr. President on the project. The superhighway is set to boost blue tourism and facilitate private sector investments in the development of beach resorts, marine transportation, water sports, etc. The project will create thousands of jobs and open up new economic opportunities in the coastal states", Oyetola said.

Speaking on Maritime Security and Safety, the minister asserted that the ministry, moved to fast-track implementation of the deep blue project as seven (7 nos.) 13m armoured patrol boats were provided for Flag State, Port State and Coastal State operations saying "we have recorded zero incidence of piracy and maritime terrorism within Nigerian Territorial Waters due to the strengthening of the implementation of the Deep Blue Sea Project with the installation of an additional Integrated Maritime Surveillance System and other maritime security infrastructure."

"Our achievements in ensuring security in our territorial waters surpass the achievements of other West African countries. We have been able to enforce maritime regulations, enhance safety and prevent illegal activities in the inland waterways with the full deployment of the Deep Blue assets. 

"On Port State Inspections, we have ensured the safety of human lives at sea by conducting a total of over 400 Port State inspections since assumption of office to ensure that substandard vessels do not call in Nigerian waters. Within six (6) months we have achieved the gazetting of the Inland Water Transportation Safety Code which had been in process for many years. The code will guide the operations of boat operators on the inland waterways; regulate the conduct of passengers using the waterways; and provide a framework for potential investors in water transportation.

"We have through NIWA deployed eighty (80) Water Marshals across selected jetties to enforce inland water safety rules, like trips on inland waters should be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; boat operators must not exceed the capacity of the vessel; passengers must always wear life jackets before boarding a boat, etc. We have equally deployed 3 water ambulances for prompt search and rescue operations on the inland waterways. This will reduce fatalities whenever accidents occur on our inland waters. 

"We have stepped up our security surveillance activities to prevent attacks on the inland waters. This entailed the procurement and deployment of Three (3) PC W23 boats with 150HP each for surveillance activities and, five (5) PC W23 boats with double 75HP each for enforcement activities. Also, the installation of Electronic Tidal Gauges to provide real-time data to the users of the inland waterways remotely through their gadgets, including mobile devices as well as our readiness to distribute 2000 High-Capacity Life Jackets to aid passengers’ safety on the inland waterways among others", the minister added.

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