The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Analysts Data Services and Resources Limited, Afolabi Olowookere, has stated that Nigeria witnessed most of the frequent piracy attacks in the past five years.
According to him, 72 per cent of the attacks occured in Nigeria when compared to neighboring countries like Cameroon, Ghana, Republic of Benin and Togo from 2017 to 2021
Olowookere stated this at the Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA) industry breakfast briefing in Lagos.
He however stated that the country has recorded significant improvement in tackling the situation, urging the federal government to strengthen the nation’s maritime sector against piracy attacks.
He lamented Nigeria also ranked lowest behind Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Cameroon, Togo and the Republic of Benin in the logistics performance index used to measure the efficiency of customs clearance process of countries with a score of 1.97.
He pointed out that the Nigeria’s medium term plan for the maritime sector recognises the country’s seaports are heavily congested for the maritime sector due to absence of dry ports and multi-modal transport infrastructure, stressing that the inland waterways are grossly underutilised with only 3000 miles of about 10,000 miles currently navigable.
He said for Nigeria’s port to become the preferred destination in West Africa and Central Africa, there is need to improve security and safety in the sector, leverage technology to improve efficiency and ease of business, make inland waterways serve as an alternative cheap mode of transportation to decongest the sea ports and deliver cargo closer to the hinterland.
He recommended that Nigeria needs to automate its port processes, remove bureaucracy and build human capacities to achieve a competitive maritime industry.
Political Economist and Management Expert, Patrick Utomi, in his goodwill message said it is mission impossible accessing the nation’s sea ports across the country, adding that the waterways are not safe to navigate.
He noted that most of the challenges hindering the nation’s maritime sector is self-inflicted.
He called on the federal government to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive while also calling lawyers to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“The opportunities waiting for Nigerian lawyers will be huge in the AfCFTA considering the fact that Nigerian law system is way ahead of its counterparts. The Nigerian ports have what it takes to be the hub on the continent if given the support it truly deserves,” he said.
On his part, the former Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Shippers Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, said there is a huge gap between the Nigerian maritime law and practice, stating the need for a review of the Nigerian maritime act to change the nation’s maritime narrative.
He advised that infrastructure is key in Nigeria’s quest to revolutionise its port processes while also calling for a legislative agenda for the sector.
“We should have an African carriage regime to boost intra-African trade which is currently low. We must invest in data and regulatory agencies have to provide more clarity to attract investments into the industry and we must intensify our legislative agenda for things to be done in the right way,” he said.
Earlier, the president, NMLA, Mrs. Funke Agbor, said the sector is yet to be fully utilised by the present administration, saying that the association is concerned about the current state of the country’s maritime industry.