By Innocent Orok
The Honourable Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, H.E. Adegboyega Oyetola has presented a N10.9bn, 2024 budget for his Ministry to the joint House Committees of the Senate on Marine Transport and the House of Representatives Committees on Ports and Harbour, Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Inland Waterways and Shipping Services.
The Minister, made this known during his address to the joint House committees and the Senate at the National Assembly complex in Abuja. He stated that the proposed budget is to enable the newly created Ministry performs its prime role of oversight and monitoring of the implementation of government policies across agencies under its purview in the marine and blue economy domain.
The Minister said “You are aware that the 2024 budget is for economic growth, therefore, the Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy and its agencies under the 2024 budget seek to consider and sustain on the achievements and performances recorded in the past years”, Oyetola outlined.
Speaking further, he noted that the Ministry will place primacy on ports infrastructural development by way of modernization of the Apapa and Tin Can ports that are dilapidated and have almost reached end of life, while also having plans to rehabilitate the Eastern ports and equally dredging the inland and coastal waterways.
To realize these initiatives, Oyetola solicited the Committees to appropriate needed funds as proposed in the budget of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the National Inland Waterways to facilitate the projects.
On the need for rehabilitation of the ports, the Minister stated that as part of the 2006 Act, enabling concessioning of the ports, the Federal Government still retains ownership of these ports and it behoves on them as landlords to continually ensure that the ports are best maintained and kept in optimal state to enable usage and interest from the concessionaires.
Other focal areas the Minister noted would include maritime administration, building human capacity, while also harping on an effective technical and economic regulation that will all ultimately ensure the strengthening of the Blue Economy in Nigeria.
Presenting the Ministry’s budget accompanied with those of the agencies supervised by the Ministry namely Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron and Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Oyetola informed the committee that the NPA, NIMASA and NSC are fully self-funding and also make reasonable remittances to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF/TSA).
The MAN, Oron, NIWA and the CRFFN derive their funding from the Federal Government’s budget and internally generated revenue. He also made note of the CRFFN’s appropriation for 2023 which was erroneously removed and requested for the matter to be revisited.
Spokesperson for the joint House Committees and the Senate, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Sen. Wasiu Sanni, in his opening remarks welcome all to the gathering stated that the 2024 budget defence also encompasses performance review for 2023 which would provide adequate and further insight into propositions captured in the 2024 budget proposal.
He assured the Minister of the Heads of the NASS Committees’ commitment of necessary support needed by the maritime sector to perform optimally, as doing this translates to boosting remittances to the federation account and as well the overall gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
Contributions from different committee members reflected their expectations of the new Ministry with emphasis on attracting more ship that call on our ports by way of draught level, seamless port clearance such as cargo scanners amongst others.
NASS members also shared unanimous views to support the Ministry on its drive to initiate the coastal guards, facilitate release of cabotage funds to aid indigenous shipping lines and others.