By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Women in Maritime Africa, Nigeria chapter (WIMA-Nigeria) has tasked the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola to heed the clarion call for professional recognition and ensure proper placement in the industry.
The association has also charged the Minister to ensure that women are given a reasonable quota while creating appointments and portfolios in the new ministry.
Mrs. Rollens Macfoy, President, WIMA Nigeria, said this at a news conference with the theme, ‘The Marine & Blue Economy Ministry-A Call for Heedfulness’, in Lagos on Thursday.
The WIMA President appreciated President Bola Tinubu for creating the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry, even as she welcomed the Minister, Adegboyega Oyetola to the sector.
According to her, WIMA Nigeria, a blue economy based association for women in Africa, is a shopping hub for women maritime professionals. She noted that members of the association are women of substance, professionally capable, well educated with experience in different areas of the sector.
“Hence, we have a lot to offer this nation in the area of Marine and Blue Economy”
“We are not coming cap in hand to beg when we are not qualified. We are saying that there is a hub for shopping for professional women in maritime and the minister should utilize it,” she said.
While setting an agenda for the Minister, she decried the multiple registration of vessels and barges in the country. She urged the Minister to look into this, saying the situation negates the Ease of Doing Business of the Federal Government.
“It is so difficult to register barges, vessels and up till the last time I checked, barge owners registered with shippers council, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
“All these things are money and it makes the cost of doing business to be high.
“Why can’t we register with one agency and then avail all the other agencies copies, to give them a soft landing because the end users take it all, the cost goes to them,” she said.
On the agenda for the minister, Macfoy noted that it was numerous, but explained that ensuring the ease of doing business at the port was paramount as it was the A to Z of any economy.
Regarding maritime labor which has to do with seafarers, he said that the ministers should critically look into their remuneration and others.
“I can talk on this authoritatively because I have been in this business for over 20 years. Oyetola should have close meetings with people who are directly involved to know what goes on.
“For the seafarer’s remuneration, how are other countries being remunerated, compared to our seafarers a lot of things surrounding our seafarers are just too much.
“Our children are going into these schools as they are coming out so that they will not be discouraged. Seafaring is a very viable and lucrative job so we should make it like it is.
“On the seafarer’s certificate, we should ensure its acceptability by the UK, Ghana, and others. This will make our children work anywhere in the world, In these respective countries we are talking about work here in Nigeria but our children cannot work over there,” she said.
She noted that WIMA Nigeria was set up on March 27, 2015, by the African Union due to the need that they saw that African women in maritime are not being encouraged and that they are few.
“We keyed into the 2063 agenda of the Africa Union which is blue economy, to harness its benefits. This means preserving the sea providing jobs for humans and getting it to the end users to enhance ourselves and see how we can benefit from the sea.
“WIMA Nigeria is ready to cooperate with the minister, put their shoulders to the wheel with him, ride the new ministry,” she said.
Also speaking, Mrs. Benita Afolabi, Managing Director, Keystone Ltd., urged the government to invest and encourage people to build locally made tugboats and barges and even sea-going vessels.
According to Afolabi, the Nigerian economy is centered 95 percent in the maritime space and so Nigeria is a place to be when it comes to maritime business.
“As an entrepreneur of over ten years in the maritime space, I see a lot of movement on the waters, vessels, tugboats, and others.
“On my visit to Hamburg, we saw less traffic because they utilized their waterways. In each of the corridors in Hamburg, you see smaller barges like vessels that help them to move from place to place and remove trucks on the road.
“And so the marine and blue economy is long overdue and we appreciate the president for this,” she said.
Afolabi urged the minister to synergize with stakeholders to encourage the inclusion of women in the ministry, invest, and listen to advice to make the sector worthwhile, and the country at large.