Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo monday blamed the demise of the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) on the lack of professionalism and high level corruption at the time.
He also advised the federal government against resuscitating it.
Obasanjo gave the advice in Lagos in his address as Chairman of a two-day stakeholders’ conference on the maritime industry.
He said: “NNSL had been liquidated, they tried Nigeria Unity Line, it collapsed.
“Nineteen brand new ships were specially built for Nigeria, we did not take delivery of some of them until I left office in 1979.
“When I came back in 1999, NNSL had been liquidated with all the 19 ships gone as well as the five ships in existence.
“Two of the ships were missing for almost two years and it was discovered that one military man was using them all over the world and no accountability.”
The former president urged the present administration to “think out of the box and come up with what should be done to grow the maritime industry.
“Until NIMASA became a source of where people steal money, nobody knew too much about it.
“Before we tried to privatise Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), I went to Singapore where you get your container within one hour of arriving in the port.
“If we cannot perform like Singapore, we have to do better than what we are doing now,” Obasanjo said.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, said the federal government was ready to create an enabling environment to steer the maritime industry to its rightfully position.
Amaechi said government would provide safe and secure environment for both foreign and indigenous investors to reap returns on their investment without compromising the nation’s economic benefits.
“The strength of our country lies in over 170 million human capacity, formidable regional market for the numerous agriculture, mining and maritime resources which would attract global patronage.
“We must, therefore, seek to build strong regulatory institutions to stimulate greater private participation and investment.
“The maritime industry has over the years been running without a befitting maritime policy,“ Amaechi said.
He stressed the need to reposition the maritime industry as Nigeria did not have a national career since the collapse of NNSL.
In an address of welcome, the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, said the forum was holding when there was a need to identify the challenges and opportunities inherent in the maritime industry.
Sirika said the conference would proffer solutions on challenges affecting the growth of the maritime industry.