From Uche Usim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to rid the maritime sector of corruption so as to enable it achieve maximum productivity and efficiency.
He also described the sector as the best alternative revenue source in the face of falling oil and gas foreign currency inflows as it has the potentials for employment, security and investments.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday at the 14th Maritime Seminar for Judges organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the National Judicial Institute (NJI), President Buhari said corruption increases cost of doing business, distorts processes, destroys ease of doing business, robs government of legitimate revenue and ultimately gives the country a bad image. “Our maritime sector has also been bedeviled by activities like vandalisation of maritime facilities and those for the oil and gas sector; illegal bunkering, piracy and corruption alliances. “One way of removing corruption is to have lucid, clear, simple and predictable rules governing our economic activities. Another way is embracing automation because the maritime sector remains a strong outlet for strengthening international trade.
“Boosting our international trade is part of our economic diversification. Our maritime sector should be positioned to support the export of our agricultural products, which is another way to diversify the economy. For us to have a robust and efficient judicial system to support our economic development, judges should be abreast of contemporary developments in the maritime sector.
“Government is making efforts towards achieving far-reaching reforms in the maritime sector. One of the planks is the appointment of an economic regulator to enhance the efficiency, competitiveness and economic viability, especially in this critical period of economic downturn,” he said.
Represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Taiwo Abidogun, Buhari further said efforts made by the NSC and the NJI to organise the Maritime Seminar for Judges was commendable as the programme encourages the training of top judicial officers to be abreast of the maritime law.
“As we tinker with the economy in this period of economic downturn occasioned by the tragic fall in oil prices, we should not leave any stone unturned to find ways of strengthening our economy.
“As we’re aware, the maritime sector constitutes the life wire of global trade and commerce in addition to its historical and current role in facilitating human interaction among communities, regions and continents. In view of this fundamental role, we must therefore continue to develop the requisite human capacity to take advantage of opportunities in the sector. Seminars such as this help articulate improvements and understand maritime issues,” he said.
In his remarks, former Head of State, Ernest Shonekan, advocated the seminar to be a yearly affair, rather than bi-annual as it provides maritime judges a strong platform to keep lawyers and stakeholders abreast of happenings in maritime law.
“The NSC and NJI have great synergy and this is commendable. With the knowledge, they can help speed up maritime cases like impounding of vessels and prosecution,” he said.
He also urged the organisers to ensure the sustainability of the programme.
The programme was attended by Chief Justices of Gambia, Ghana and Sierra Leone, among other dignitaries. The Sun