The Marine and Blue Economy Ministry: Implications for the People and Economy of Nigeria
By Moshood Oshunfurewa Adebola
Data Analyst, Mathematician and Member of Youth Rights Campaign (YRC)
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu unveiled a list of ten new or revised ministries that will shape his administration’s policies. Among these, the marine and blue economy ministry, headed by former Governor of Osun State, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, is of particular interest. This ministry aims to oversee the prudent management of Nigeria’s marine resources and promote the sustainable growth of the blue economy.
Nigeria possesses a wealth of marine resources, including oil, gas, and minerals. Its coastline stretches over 850 kilometres, harboring a diverse array of marine life, from fish to crustaceans and mollusks. Unfortunately, these resources are under threat from challenges such as overfishing, pollution, and habitat degradation, which could jeopardize their sustainability and potential economic benefits.
Effectively harnessing these resources has the potential to significantly boost the nation’s revenue. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation estimates the value of the country’s oil and gas reserves at over $1 trillion. Furthermore, the fishing sector contributes substantially to the economy, with an estimated worth exceeding $1 billion. Nonetheless, these resources remain largely untapped, and ongoing efforts are being made to enhance their responsible management and preservation.
Likewise, the blue economy holds promise for substantial economic gains while fostering sustainable development and environmental protection. The World Economic Forum projects that the blue economy could contribute up to $2.5 trillion to global economic output by 2030. Simultaneously, it could help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and bolster food security. However, realizing these benefits necessitates meticulous management of oceanic resources and ecosystems, necessitating collaboration among governments, businesses, and Nigerian Maritime Union of Nigeria (NUM).
Within this sector’s potential lie opportunities for economic growth, revenue generation, and job creation. However, the history of agencies and departments integral to the new ministry suggests challenges. Instances of corruption, maladministration, and questionable contracts cast a shadow over these agencies’ operations. For instance, the NIMASA corruption scandal brought to light significant corruption within the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, involving the misappropriation of funds and assets for personal gain.
The incident exposed the need for transparency and accountability within government bodies. Notably, the leadership of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency is yet to deploy 17 vessels and helicopters from a $700 million allocation for vessel procurement through the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) to enhance security in Nigerian waters. Meanwhile, a $105 million contract was awarded to the Global West Vessel Specialist Agency, helmed by Chief Government Ekpemukpolo (aka Tompolo). Such occurrences are troubling in a nation with a constitutionally mandated Nigerian Navy responsible for safeguarding coastal and water territories.
Furthermore, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) grapples with corruption cases involving allegations of bribery, embezzlement, and other forms of graft. These challenges hinder the NPA’s capacity to manage and regulate the nation’s ports efficiently, resulting in inefficiencies and financial losses. Efforts to address these issues have encountered resistance, underscoring the need for a comprehensive approach to tackling corruption within the NPA.
Given the continued prevalence of corruption and perceived ineffectiveness associated with Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, based on his track record in Osun State, concerns have arisen among segments of Nigerian dock workers and stakeholders regarding the Tinubu presidency. It is crucial to ensure that the story of the marine and blue economies does not mirror that of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited—an issue that looms large but remains unaddressed.