The Chairman of Comet Group, Chief Musa Danjuma says it is an embarrassment that Nigeria does not control a sizeable share of her sea trade.
Chief Musa Danjuma said the Federal Government must implement all enabling laws to encourage and empower Nigerian shipping lines to carry Nigerian cargo.
The Comet Group Chairman who was represented by Mr. Pier Luigi Carrodano, Group Managing Director of the Group, stated this at a book launch in Apapa, Lagos last week.
The title of the book is The Rise, Fall and Liquidation of Africa’s Pioneer Carriers: Nigerian National Shipping Line and Black Star Line. It is authored by Dr. Edmund Mbama Chilaka.
“As the biggest importer and exporter of goods in West Africa, Nigeria is naturally an undisputed maritime nation, and it would be a misnomer that she does not command a controlling share of her sea trade.
“We, therefore, enjoin the Federal Government through its relevant ministries and parastatals, especially the Federal Ministries of Transportation, Petroleum Resources, Agriculture, Water Resource, NIMASA, NNPC and NCDMB, to synergise and vigorously implement all the enabling laws, especially the NIMASA Act, the Inland Shipping Cabotage Act and the Law on National Content, in such a way that should encourage and empower Nigerian shipping lines to carry Nigerian cargo, going forward.
“The era of wholesale reliance on our crude oil wealth would soon pass away and the maritime subsector is ever vibrant to yield huge sums of foreign exchange and other benefits if indigenous operators in the maritime industry are proactively supported to increase their levels of operation and participation in the market,” said Chief Musa Danjuma.
Chief Danjuma chronicled the active role played by Comet Group in the Nigerian freight business and said the Group had a robust working relationship with the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).
“My Group of Companies, the Comet Group, began operations with the formation of the Nigeria-America Line (NAL) and the Comet Shipping Agencies Nigeria Limited in 1979 and 1984 respectively and maintained a good working relationship with the NNSL which had 28 combo ships at the time.
“We were also co-members of the Nigeria-Brazil Freight Conference and participated in freighting cargoes generated by the 1985 Nigeria Counter Trade Programme and NAL chartered some NNSL ships for use on the Brazilian route.
The Comet Group also participated with NNSL in the campaigns for the promulgation of Decree 10 of 1987 which created the National Maritime Authority (NMA) and put in place supportive policies to encourage indigenous shipping lines’ success in international shipping trade,” said Danjuma, who said Nigeria reaped many benefits abundantly from the supportive e policies of the government during this era.
“As elaborated in the book, Nigeria reaped many benefits from the supportive policies of government during this era, including greater participation of Nigerians in international maritime shipping, earning of scarce foreign exchange, seafarer manpower development, and thousands of onshore and offshore employment opportunities.
“Although NNSL and other indigenous carriers went down, unfortunately, during the last few decades, the onus lies on all of us, as Nigerians, to understand the pitfalls of our management style and practices in the bygone era and to make amends in order to bounce back stronger and better,” Danjuma counseled.