Posted by: Oluwakemi Dauda
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has raised the alarm over what it calls false international reports on pirates‚Äôactivities on the nation‚Äôs territorial waters.
Based on the reports, vessels carrying the Nigerian flag, the agency said, were incurring ‚Äúunnecessary‚Äù losses by paying money to foreign marine insurance companies.
NIMASA‚Äôs Director-General, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, told The Nation in Lagos that some foreign insurance firms otherwise known as Protection and Indemnity (P&I) clubs were sabotaging the economy and painting the country black because of the reports.
The reports, he said, were aimed at making Nigerians to pay more for imported goods.
The NIMASA boss said the P&I clubs had made money from the country and other African countries, urging more Nigerians to venture into marine insurance to create wealth and provide jobs for the youth.
He said: ‚ÄúVirtually all the major insurances in this sector are done outside the country and this is a huge capital flight. The country has a robust population and in¬† sub-Saharan Africa, almost 70 per cent of the cargo traffic is from Nigeria. So, we have marine insurance.¬† Why is our insurance companies not tapping into the lucrative business?
‚ÄúSometimes you hear of piracy attacks, but most reported cases of piracy are untrue. They raise the false alarm because the insurance companies intend¬† to make mone; and if they don‚Äôt raise the red flag, how will they make the money? So, that is why they paint our image as bad as possible to get those insurance money.‚Äù
Akpobolokemi said the motive¬† of those responsible for the false alarm was political and a form of economic sabotage, urging Nigerians to join hands against the alarmists.
‚ÄúIf we cannot do it alone, all sub-Saharan African countries should be able to come together to form a vibrant insurance company,‚Äù he insisted.
He said since the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) was liquidated many years ago, it had made Nigerian flagged ships attractive for business.
He pledged that the agency would resuscitate the¬† national carrier so that it would be involved in the transportation of the nation‚Äôs crude oil.
Akpobolokemi wondered why the country still carried its oil on¬† Freight on Board (FOB) policy which he said¬† is a major blow to the economy especially in the area of providing jobs for the youth.
Former director- general of the defunct Nigeria Maritime Authority (NMA), Mr Patrick Egesi, has urged NIMASA on the need to ¬†seek input from experts before the ¬†acquisition of new ships for the national carrier.
Egesi, who lauded President Goodluck Jonathan for reappointing¬† Akpobolokemi, said his reappointment ¬†would give confidence to local and foreign operators.
He said: ‚ÄúIn the process of revamping our shipping line, I foresee a situation whereby some Nigerians will want to float ¬†briefcase shipping companies in order to benefit from the scheme, but I will advise the DG to be careful in that regard.
‚ÄúIn the line of revamping the national carrier, I will advice the DG of NIMASA to have an eye on what happened as regards to the defunct of NNSL.‚Äù