Major General MuhammaduBuhari (Rtd)
President-Elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Dear Mr. President-Elect,
Over the years, the maritime industry has been totally neglected by government. Nigeria’s maritime sector is estimated to be capable of GENERATING N7 TRILLION ANNUALLY AND 40,000,000 JOBS. However, in order to tap revenue from this sector there will need to be an overhaul of policy, institutional, regulatory and legal framework.
On April 21 2015, a meeting of theMaritime Stakeholders Forum took place to discuss and deliberate on the presentation to the new government of change under Mr. President-Elect of a MARITIME ACTION PLANfor Nigeria’s maritime sector.
Previous governments have failed to recognize the great potential for revenue generation, economic growth and job opportunities afforded Nigeria as a coastal state. The new government will be challenged to diversify revenue generation and look at sectors of the economy that can be reorganized to generate huge sustainable revenue for the country.
To have a vibrant maritime sector theMaritime Stakeholders Forum has identified the need to remove maritime matters from under the Ministry for Transportation. We propose a MINISTRY FOR MARITIME TRADE. It is proposed that the need for a sector specific ministry at this time will go a long way to organizing a viable revenue generating sector with massive economic contributions towards Nigeria’s GDP.
Challenges in the Maritime Sector
Nigeria’s maritime sector is the oldest established sector in Nigeria having its origins in the early eighteenth century when there was massive trade being undertaken with Nigeria’s colonial masters. Activities in the maritime sector have potential to generate the second highest income after petroleum. The many facets of the sector include the ports, terminal operators, maritime transportation, cargo and freight, seafaring, haulage etc. all of which are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry for Transportation. Mr. President-Elect if aviation that does not generate as much revenue for Nigeria has a ministry it goes without saying that a ministry for maritime trade is urgently needed.
The Maritime Stakeholders have identified the following:
• The need to review all legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks in the Maritime sector to create an enabling environment for economic growth, job creation and revenue generation.

• The need to immediately implementthe policy for Inland Container Depots (ICDS). We have 6 (Six) ICDsspread across the geopolitical zones that can generate at least 15,000 jobs for different levels of manpower. Due to lack of infrastructure to support business and operations by the concessionaires these depots have not been optimally utilized. 80 percent of Nigerian trade is diverted to ports in Cotonou and other West African ports.

• A review of our cabotage regime to stem capital flight and boost capacity for Nigeria’s shipowners. Despite the enactment of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003 Nigeria loses an estimated N7Trillion in the shipping sector. Foreign vessels trade in flagrance of the cabotage regime. This is responsible for massive capital flight.
• Immediate review of local content in the oil and gas sector, as it relates to maritime transportation.

• The immediate enactment of several critical Bills pending before the National Assembly. This would facilitate the legal framework to move the maritime sector to the next level. Such Bills as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the Ports &Habour Bill, Maritime Zones Bill, Oceans Bill etc. are yet to be passed into law.

• The urgent need to review the Nigerian Shipping Policy of1987. This will require the overhaul of all policy, and the review all legal, institutional and regulatory and framework.

• The need to establish a National Carrier. As a coastal state and often called the “Giant of Africa” it is shameful that we cannot boast of a national carrier.
In conclusion, the opportunities to be derived in the maritime sector are enormous and will boost the economy, provide job opportunities, build capacity in shipping, provide huge revenue generation and boost other industries such as steel, agriculture, oil and gas and manufacturing.
The Maritime Stakeholders Forum agreed that action should be taken as a matter of urgency to ensure that a veritableMARITIME ACTION PLAN is put on the new government’s economic agenda particularly now, that the transition meetings are taking place.
The Maritime Stakeholders Forum is keen to provide Mr. President-Elect with the MARITIME ACTION PLAN at a date that is convenient to you. In the meantime, please accept the esteem of our highest regards.
Yours Faithfully,