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By NBF News
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Nigeria is currently losing about N3tn annually as a result of the underdevelopment of its maritime industry.

The development has been blamed on the frequent changes in the leadership of government agencies in the industry.

The President, Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, said this in Lagos on Tuesday, at a press briefing organised to call government's attention to the absence of a Nigerian flag at a recent boat show in New Orleans, United States.

He said, 'We need to allow the leadership of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency to plan and execute good developmental programmes for the maritime industry, by allowing its leadership, just like those of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Central Bank of Nigeria, Securities and Exchange Commission, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, among others, to run its full term.

'The country is losing over N3tn as capital flight because we have not allowed the maritime industry to develop. This is what the Nigeria Shipping Act 2007, the Cabotage Act 2003, and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010, are out to arrest. You need a focused and purposeful leadership of NIMASA to ensure compliance with these laws. Nigeria had no flag at a boat show organised in New Orleans owing to underdevelopment of the sector.'

Jolapamo attributed the stunted development of the maritime industry to frequent changes in the leadership of NIMASA, adding that in the 22 years of the organisation's existence, 'it has had 11 directors-general.'

He said the removal of the last three DGs of the agency was suspicious, noting that a similar action was about to be taken against the current DG.

He said ISAN was not against the removal of any DG found wanting, but noted that the removal must not be politically motivated to the detriment of the development of the industry.

He said that the growth and development recorded by NCAA in the aviation industry, which made Nigeria Airports to be on the white list of the ICAO, was due to stability in the leadership and non-interference by the government. He listed NAFDAC, SEC and CBN among agencies worthy of emulation in terms of their contributions to the development of their respective sectors.

Jolapamo said, 'Our government has not realised that the maritime sector is a key economic sector that needs to be developed. No nation has ever developed without maritime trade. Walter Raliegh in 1640 said 'whatever controls the seas controls the trade, and whoever controls the trade controls the riches of the world'.

'Our dream to be one of the 20 economies of the world may be adversely affected if we do not look after our maritime trade to ensure its proper development to effect our economic prosperity. Ogwu, Usoro, Ade Dosunmu were all removed in succession on allegations of corruption or fraud. Nothing has been heard of the allegations.'