From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has urged the Local Content Board, financial sector and other capacity-building institutions to synergize and create more employment and business opportunities, particularly in the maritime sector.
Obaseki, who spoke in Onne, Rivers State, during the official naming of the new-built MV Osanyamo, which was acquired by the indigenous maritime firm, Starzs Group, lamented that since the demise of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), the nation has continued to lose economic and human development opportunities.
Describing the shipping terrain in Nigeria as not only “scary” but also seriously dominated by foreign operators, Obaseki said he felt really privileged performing for the first time in his life the christening, dedication and commissioning of a vessel.
He commended the Chairman of Starzs, Mr. Greg Ogbeifun, who is also the Chairman of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), for his dedication, commitment and resourcefulness, especially in mobilising local funds and institutional support in a challenging environment to lift the nation’s flag and boost employment opportunities.
According to him, “over time, the maritime industry, in spite of the support it had received, such as the Cabotage Law and the Local Content Law, has continued to be dominated by foreign companies.
“Apart from the brief spell of the NNSL, which offered Nigerians sea opportunities, just like most other assets, that endeavor failed, and as a country we lost that opportunity to build the human capacity and resources to go ahead to dominate.”
He regretted that Nigeria’s weak economic position has seriously affected not only its balance of trade but also devastatingly afflicted the well-being and the future of the youths.