The Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Eniola Bello, has decried the federal government deafening silence and lack of concern to the plight of residents, businesses and commuters whose lives are endangered on daily basis by trucks and containers due to the bad nature of the port access roads.
Bello, who stated this at a one-day seminar organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said businesses in Apapa have closed shop leading to loss of jobs.
Also, he said the dream of accomplishing a blue economy in the Nigeria maritime sector would remain a mirage without spelt out benefits for the media sector.
Bello, who applauded NIMASA for the lofty idea of blue economy, argued that a lot of things needed to be fixed for smooth operation of the concept.
According to him, “I speak from the perspective of media relation. What will you achieve with blue economy if the media is not taking into the concentration in the budgetary allocation of government agencies? The media in Nigeria is challenged in several ways. No regular salaries for journalists and many of the obligations of the government to the media establishments as forth estate of realm are neglected.
“THISDAY and other front line newspapers like The Punch, The Guardian and others have been making the dilapidated infrastructure in Apapa the gateway to the country ports a front burner issue for years yet government behaves like deaf and dump. Agencies are asking for partnership from media houses yet they are not willing to patronise us in return through adverts. So call it blue, red, green or any economy, it cannot work properly if government does not play its role effectively by addressing issues being raised by the media.”
In his response, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Peterside Dakuku, sympathised with the plight of the media outfits amid economic challenges and pledged to do all that is lawful within his power to promote and support journalism in the country.
“All what Bello said were true but we should please endeavour to also understand development from the angle of government to balance things. In government, we deal with decision-making and allocation of resources. But in all of these, I want to plead for understanding as we move on.
“I am willing and will always support all media activities provided it is within the ambit of the law and the budget of NIMASA. However, as a people, we must embrace the message of change of this government because it is no longer business as usual, ”he said
Peterside said the salient message of blue economy as being conversed by the NIMASA in the maritime sector is to ensure sustainability of the economy growth both through on and off sea operations in Nigeria.
“To get things right, we need the media to partner us to send the right messages across. As at the moment, oceanic business needs knowledge which we lack and policy frame work to enable people take advantage of the process.
“Knowledge about ocean economy is needed. We require investment both through the government and private initiates in the sector. Now we must brace up for water mining particularly in shipping and deep sea fishing, ” he said.