OrderPaperToday – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has said Nigeria can benefit from the 20billion Euros worth of intra-African fish trade if the right legal regime and reforms are put in place.
Dogara also expressed dismay over the lose of over 1.3 billion dollars to Illegal Unreported and Unregulated ( IUU ) fishing in West Africa and pledged the commitment of the National Assembly in passing legislations that will make Nigeria’s seas and waterways safer for exploration and exploitation of its natural resources for the benefit of Nigerians.
Dogara said these while delivering a goodwill message at the annual conference of the Association of African Maritime Administrators in Abuja on Thursday.
According to the Speaker, “we must tighten the legal and regulatory framework to stop these losses. We must intensify efforts to promote intra- African trade in fisheries as statistics also show that Pan-African fish trade is worth about 20 billion euros. This will help to sustain African economies in the long term.”
The Speaker also stated that Nigeria’s economic revival can be achieved through the exploration and exploitation of Africa’s vast ocean resources, noting that “developed countries have done a better job of exploiting these resources.
“We in Africa need to do much more to use these God given resources to feed our people, fight poverty and develop efficient ports and effectively administer the waters of the Seas. We can create high paying jobs for our teeming youths, develop an efficient transportation system, exploit efficiently the oil and gas resources and other minerals contained in the deep seas and oceans of Africa. Nigeria is potentially a major maritime power considering the depth and breadth of our Exclusive Economic Zone and Territorial waters, and can do even more to efficiently and effectively make sustainable use of the Oceans and Seas.”
Dogara further stressed that fishing is one of the major economic activities of most maritime communities all over Africa and sustainable development of the local fisheries sector has the capacity to improve food security and lift people out of poverty and hunger, adding that “as a maritime nation, Nigeria has a responsibility together with other nations and international organisations, like the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to make our waters safe and secure.”
On the role of the Parliament, he said: “We as a parliament have been at the forefront of legislation on maritime issues in the past and are currently, actively involved in processing legislations in the maritime sector. The House of Representatives of Nigeria only last week passed the National Transport Commission Bill which it is hoped would have a huge impact on the maritime sector especially with respect to economic regulation of activities of operators and agencies in our maritime sector.”
The Speaker further expressed the commitment of the National Assembly to give speedy legislative action to the proposed Bill for an Act to provide for the Suppression of Piracy and other unlawful Acts at Sea (and other related offences) and urged the executive to transmit it, and other IMO conventions to the National Assembly.
He charged African maritime organisations to change the present situation where Africans do not benefit from the abundance of natural resources in its seas and waterways.