By Agnes Nsikak

The 2023 Annual Conference and Awards of the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON), is set to take the maritime industry and other associated trades by storm as it promises to assemble the who is who in the industry on December 14th at the Rockview Hotel Apapa, Lagos; to brainstorm on the most viable options available to Nigeria to make its trans-border trade more profitable to the nation.

According to a press statement issued by the Secretary of the planning committee of the event , Segun Oladipupo, the five star conference which is in its fifth edition, will be chaired by the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR. The theme is: REBUILDING NIGERIA’S ECONOMY TOWARDS A VIABLE TRANSBORDER TRADE.

Whereas Nigeria’s economy is believed to be the biggest in Africa, it holds the potential to influence trade in the West and Central African region. Nigeria controls over 70% of cargo throughput in the region which accounts for the largest volume of trade by any country in the region.

Illegal trade activities like smuggling has over the years, resulted in the Nigerian markets being flooded with products manufactured outside the country, but which one way or the other illegally gets into the country.

In view of President Bola Tinubu Administration’s efforts to reposition the Nation’s ailing economy anchored on his ‘Renewed Hope’ mantra, “Rebuilding Nigeria’s Economy Towards A Viable Trans-border Trade,” has become imperative.

The AMJON 2023 Annual Conference seeks among others, to achieve the following objectives:

Identify the viability of opening up the Nigerian economy for more importation without making the country vulnerable to dumping, weakened national currency, job loss, closure of industries and other likely challenges. This is in view of the recent pact between the Nigeria Customs Service and Customs Administration of Benin Republic which allows for harmonisation of import policies and unification of cargo clearance procedures across borders.

Identify impediments to Trans-border trade like poor access roads; from Babana in Kwara State to Ilorin, Shaki in Oyo to Ibadan, Seme – Badagry in Lagos State, Igolo portion of Benin Republic leading to Nigeria, slow pace on the reconstruction (over two decades) of the Apapa, Onne, Calabar and Warri ports road with a view to encouraging the Federal and State governments to addressing these critical infrastructural deficits.

The conference also aims at drawing maximum attention towards maximising the potentials of the Blue Economy, AfCFTA and Exports among other international trade deals, which is widely acknowledged to be low hanging fruits for economic diversification from a mono-cultural economy to a more viable, sustainable and environmentally-friendly source of sustenance for Nigeria.

It also aims at engendering inter-agency and government/private sector collaborations to build capacity in the areas of indigenous investment, professional expertise and limitless opportunities for job creation, among other benefits.

Speaking about the 2023 conference, President of AMJON, Paul Ogbuokiri said that it has become a tradition for AMJON to set the pace for stimulating discussions on a yearly basis on strategic policies and programmes of government that will benefit the government and the people alike.

Ogbuokiri said the theme of this year’s event was carefully selected to key into President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s agenda to boost business and generate revenue for the government, while creating employment for Nigerians.

“The theme is also in tandem with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) new trade policy on trans-border trade with the Nation’s border countries, particularly Benin Republic,” he said.

On his part, the Chairman Planning Committee of the event, Mr. Innocent Orok said this year’s AMJON Conference and awards is particularly targeted at educating Importers, Exporters, Shippers, Truckers, Government agencies and maritime stakeholders on the viability of trans-border trade. He urged the Nigerian trading community and other business people to leverage on the opportunity the trans-border trade offers to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area ( AfCFTA).

Orok said that the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR is expected to chair the event and give a keynote address. While the Managing Director of NPA, DG, NIMASA, ES/CEO, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Director General SON, and the Managing Director, NIWA among others are expected to make presentations regarding their roles in promoting trans-border trade in Nigeria.

Orok said this year’s conference will also honour some patriotic Nigerians who have contributed their quotas to the growth and development of the sector.
“The awardees cut across CEOs , Public Relations Managers and other stakeholders.”

It is on record that AMJON as a foremost Maritime Journalists group in Nigeria as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility in the last five years has used its Annual Conference and other organised workshops to set agenda and stir up stakeholders’ engagement in the Nigerian maritime sub-sector.


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