Capt. Tajudeen Alao, President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) on Monday urged the Federal Government to harness the potential in the maritime industry to boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
Alao made the appeal in Lagos during the presentation of Honorary Fellowship Award to Capt. Pier Carrodano, former Group Managing Director of Comet Shipping; and Fellowship Award to Commodore Duja Effedua (Rtd), Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron.
According to Alao, maritime can contribute a lot to the country’s gross domestic product apart from oil.
“From Lake Chad up to Badagry, to Ogoja, Bakasi inland waters. We have the coastal waters about 600 miles, and the no-exculsive zones, then the international waters.
“We should play our part, we should take a little bite in all these areas and we know that maritime can contribute to the economy.
“We are not developing inland waterways. It’s just last week that government said they want to dredge Orashi River after how many years. What have we been waiting for?
“Imagine the job, the multiplier effect it will create, the potential in that axis that the country will benefit from.
“The white people handed the waterways over, Lagos to Baro to Newman. It was killed more than 40 years ago,” he added.
He said that in the inland water, palm kernel, groundnut, coco, logs were carried on these waters, but this was not happening anymore.
“Security is man-made and we can kill it and harness the potential of the water.
“The Orashi River is very profitable because if Oguta Lake is opened. There will be so many ancillary industries where ships can go directly and carry the load away from there, than Warri and Port Harcourt,” he said.
On the award, Alao said the awardees were honoured for their immense contributions to the association, maritime industry and shipping in particular over the past ten years.
Alao said that Carrodano was recognised for his contribution to the association and job opportunities in shipping which he had worked for 50 years.
He pointed out that Effedua had turned around the fortune of the academy in the last four years, adding that the first sets of graduates in Oron now stand tall to talk about the academy.
Responding, Carrodano noted that the Fellowship not only acknowledge his individual efforts, but also represents the collective achievements of their community.
He said that it serves as a reminder of the impact they could make when they were united and strive for continuous improvement.
“As an honorary fellow, I remain committed to advancing the goals of the association, contributing to the growth and safety of the maritime industry.
“I will continue to dedicate my knowledge and expertise to drive positive change. I am truly grateful for the recognition and we look forward to continuing our shared endeavours,” he said.
Also responding, Effedua said that he was happy to be part of history making and luaded the associations to the academy.
According to Effedua, he was trained by excellent professionals, even though he was scared of the academy as beginner.
“The first thing I did was to attack infrastructure by getting simulators and capacity building of instructors by recruiting professionals even from the Nigerian Ports Authority.
“We resisted a lot of challenges by blocking leakages and the money used internally to upgrade the institution with equipment,” he said.
Effedua urged the association members not to keep their wealth of experience to themselves, adding that he appreciates them coming quarterly to the academy.
A Board of Trustees, Capt. Anthony Olugbode, appreciated the members of the association for keeping the flag flying.
“Nigeria has great resources not touched, we have only sowed the seed, it is left for it to germinate,” he said.