Last updated on September 4th, 2023 at 12:46 am
Who is the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy in Nigeria?
Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola – the former Governor of Osun State – is the pioneer and incumbent Minister of Marine and Blue Economy. He took the oath of office on Monday, August 21, 2023, alongside 41 other cabinet members.
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Blue Economy in Nigeria Context:
In the Nigeria context, the Blue Economy is how Nigeria can sustainably use its coastline which is approximately 853 km facing the Atlantic Ocean for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems. You can find the global perspective of the blue economy in one of our previous explanatory articles.
The proponents of Ocean conservation and Blue Economy such as the United Nations and the World Bank share the same view that potential in oceans is the next economic frontier of the world.
Blue economy entails emerging renewable energy, seabed extractive activities, marine biotechnology and bio-prospecting.
Who conceived the idea of the Blue Economy in Nigeria?
The need to explore the oceans, seas, or waterways which global bodies call “Blue Economy Concept” started during the administration of Muhammadu Buhari, barely 19 months after he became Nigeria’s democratic president.
History of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in Nigeria
From continental meeting in Togo to the creation of a special ministry to manage activities in the oceans, here is the timeline of the creation of the Blue Economy Ministry in Nigeria:
AU member states prepare for Blue Economy
On Saturday, October 15, 2016, 55 member states of the African Union (AU), of which Nigeria is a member, held a meeting in the Republic of Togo on the need to secure the Gulf of Guinea, Oceans and the Seas for the continent to fully explore the potential of the Blue Economy.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, who represented Muhammadu Buhari in a one-day summit said, “All of the economic activities that take place around the Seas and Oceans are jeopardized, if security is not assured. And that is one of the reasons that this Charter is devoted to ensuring security”, saying 90% of African trade is by the Seas.
The high point of the gathering was the signing of the African Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development – to ensure improved information-sharing between coastal countries and others in Africa – by about 35 out of 55 AU member states.
And during the tenure of Hadiza Bala Usman as the MD of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), she was always speaking on the plan of the Buhari-led government to tap into the Blue Economy.
Setup of Sustainable Blue Economy Committee
Nigeria’s plan to create a blue economy ministry received another boost on Monday, January 16, 2022, when Osinbajo inaugurated an Expanded Partnership Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria (EPCSBEN) and held its first meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power.
The Terms of Reference of EPCSBEN include:
- To provide an assessment of the current realities,
- To discover the opportunities and challenges in blue economy for economic diversification
- To find the growth of a sustainable blue economy in Nigeria
- To identify and review relevant policies and institutional/capacity building mechanisms for blue economy development in Nigeria.
Members of EPCSBEN were:
- Vice President Osinbajo as Chairman
- 36 State Governors,
- Representatives of the Military,
- Representatives of Security Agencies, and
- Representatives of Private Sector
- Chief of Naval Staff
- Representatives from the geo-political zones
- Comptroller-General of Customs
- DG of NIMASA
Fourth meeting on the creation of a blue economy
Between January to March 27, 2023, EPCSBEN held its fourth meeting in Abuja, from then, they began talks on the need to develop Nigeria’s version of the Sustainable Blue Economy concept and have an all-inclusive policy document for the maritime sector in line with the global best practices.
It was at the fourth meeting of the committee that its chairman, VP Osinbajo, said:
“The concept of Blue Economy is a new frontier aimed at economic development and diversification through the use of resources from oceans, seas, rivers and lakes for the well-being of people.
“It also provides a positive contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 2052, African Integrated Maritime Strategy (2052 AIM Strategy) and the UN 2030 Agenda.”yemiosinbajo.ng
A technical consultant and international maritime expert on the Blue Economy Dr. Felicia Chinwe Mogo who was also at the meeting highlighted the benefits of the Blue Economy to Nigeria including development for Nigeria’s national economic growth if the country explores sectors of Blue Economy such as Offshore and Ocean energy, marine biotechnology, coastal tourism, transport and food production.
Collection of Policy Status and Baton of Service by Tinubu
On Thursday, May 25, 2023, Buhari who had four days in office handed over the transition documents to the man who was going to succeed him (Tinubu).
The documents contained completed and uncompleted programmes, and the Policy Status of the Buhari administration.
A baton of service was also handed over to Tinubu, who was president-elect at the time. The baton of service means government is a continuum.
Tinubu’s plan to create a new ministry emerged
On Thursday, July 27, 2023, the Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief of Staff to President Tinubu, hinted that the APC-led administration may create new ministries from the existing ones when he submitted the first batch of ministerial nominees to the National Assembly.
He disclosed that Tinubu “intends to separate portfolios or restructure the ministries in such a way you might be hearing of new ministries that were not standalone ministries before.”
The ‘kitchen cabinet’ and the confidant of the president knew that the birth of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy was in the offing, but outsiders were anxious about what the new ministries would be like.
What also kept the majority in the dark about the impending creation of the new ministry was the non-attachment of the portfolio of the nominees which has become a tradition in Nigeria’s democratic process.
Revelation to unbundle Ministry of Transportation
On Friday, July 28, 2023, there were media reports that the Ministry of Transportation was among other ministries that would be unbundled by the new administration.
Other include Informational and Culture; Youths and Sports Development; Agricultural and Rural Development; Solid Minerals; Works and Housing; Power; Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; Petroleum Resources; Finance, Budget and National Planning,
Although the media reports didn’t accurately get the name of the new ministry that would emerge from the Ministry of Transportation, a new ministry did come out of the Transportation Ministry.
The birth of the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry
On Wednesday, August 16, 2023, President Tinubu assigned portfolios to his 45-man ministerial nominees, giving official birth to the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in Nigeria.
The minister-designates were to take the oath of office on Monday, August 21, 2023, but the administration made a late hour ‘reshuffle” on Sunday, August 20, 2023.
Tinubu retrieved the Marine and Blue Economy from Hon. Bunmi Tunji and reassigned it to the former governor of Osun State Gboyega Oyetola.
Agencies under the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy
The Federal Ministry of Transportation will most likely lose at least six out of its eight agencies to the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.
Although there was no official announcement to this effect at the time of this report (August 27), the names of the agencies accurately reflect the agenda of the new ministry.
The six agencies that are closely associated with the Marine and Blue Economy are:
- Nigerian Ports Authority
- Nigerian Shippers’ Council
- Maritime Academy of Nigeria
- National Inland Waterways Authority
- Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)
- Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding of Nigeria
So, the new ministry might have more agencies when it is fully set up.
Apart from the above agencies, our understanding of the blue economy concept will include the following sectors:
- Marine Biotechnology
- Seawater desalination
- Fishery and Aquaculture
- Renewable Energy
- Ship and Boat building
- Maritime Construction
- Research and Education
- Defense and Security
- Deep Sea Mining, Offshore oil/gas
What will Nigeria Gain from the Marine and Blue Economy?
There are many potential benefits of a Blue Economy is the oceans and the seas are properly put into use, some of them are:
1) Sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth of Nigeria.
2) Nigeria’s coastal area has the capacity to at least seven million jobs in three years, which aligns with Nigeria’s Economic Recovery Growth (ERGP), says a Blue Economy expert, Dr Chinwe-Mogo
3) Sustainable use of the waters to improve the livelihoods of Nigerians
4) To explore the ocean resources for job creation
5) For value-added economic growth, Blue Economy can help Nigeria reduce its 17-23 million homes deficit because the new concept will provide safe and secure living.
6) To use the ocean in a way to preserve the health of ocean ecosystems, to avoid disaster that might emanate from the bad use of the ocean.
7) To fully tap the potential to improve maritime transportation.
8) Nigeria is endowed with enormous aquatic and marine resources including oceans, seas, rivers and lakes with the potential for growth of the Blue Economy.
Where is the office of the Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in Nigeria located?
There is no office or government official for the new ministry. The existing ministry (transportation) and the new one (Marine Blue Economy) are expected to share the same building, share directors, and a permanent secretary, till the time that a full restructure takes place.
At the time of publication, the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in Nigeria can be found at Bukar Dipcharima House, Central Business District, FCT, Abuja, the same building as the Transportation Ministry.
The same will happen between old and new ministries, including Information and National Orientation, Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, and Tourism, which emerged from the old Ministry of Information and Culture.
Roles of Marine and Blue Economy Ministry in Nigeria
Nigeria’s government is yet to come up with clear-cut functions for the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry, from our understanding of the blue economy, here are some of the possible roles of the new ministry:
1) Harnessing Nigeria’s potential in the maritime sub-sector of the economy.
2) Handling core maritime issues
3) Repair and rehabilitation of collapsing ports across Nigeria
4) Decentralization and development of other ports in Nigeria. Lagos shouldn’t be the only focus for Nigeria’s government. The Rivers Port Complex, Calabar Port, Onne Port in Rivers State, and Delta Port should receive the same attention as ports in Lagos.
5) Simplify the port payment system into a single window to ease of doing business at the ports for the ministry to achieve its goals of fully harnessing marine potential.
6) To eradicate the human-to-human interface and to remove all sorts of irregularities in terms of payments during cargo clearance processes.
7) To ensure and monitor prompt disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) fund to indigenous ship-owners. Its primary aim of CVFF is to improve indigenous tonnage in terms of capacity in order for Nigerian ship-owners to compete favorably with their foreign counterparts.
8) To ensure that Nigeria is ably represented in the council seats of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to be able to join major players in key decisions in maritime policies.
9) To increase the contribution of Nigeria to maritime transport and international shipping through its policies and ease of doing business on the ocean.
10) To increase Nigeria’s active participation in maritime trade, and significant contributions to IMO’s work.
11) To increase Nigeria’s level of engagement and responsibility within IMO to attain Category A membership. For instance, after the victory of 2009, Nigeria lost out in IMO council elections that were held in 2011, 2013, 2017, 2019, and 2021.
Social media handles of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy
Here are the official social media handles of the new ministry:
- Facebook: FedMinofMBE (facebook.com/FedMinofMBE)
- Twitter: @FMoMBENigeria (twitter.com/FMoMBENigeria)
Nigeria is among the 38 AU states that are coastal.
Buhari set the policy direction to have a department or ministry for Blue Economy, but his successor, Tinubu actualized the dream by creating a full-fledged Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy (out of the Ministry of Transportation) for Nigeria to explore the economic activities on the seas, oceans, and waterways while at the same time preserving the ocean ecosystem.
The need to have a ministry to tap the opportunity for economic activity, especially in areas close to oceans, rivers and coasts began in 2016.
Other things you need to know about the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy include: water bodies in Nigeria can provide huge opportunities for fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, coastal tourism, offshore oil and gas energy mobilization and other Blue Economy-related activities.
Blue economy has the potential to outperform other areas of Nigeria’s economy if properly harnessed as a whole for investment and employment opportunities.
- Yemi Osinbajo (October 16, 2016): “Nigeria, AU Nations Will Secure Gulf Of Guinea, Others To Spur ‘Blue Economy’”. yemiosinbajo.ng