Nigeria is a blessed nation with a sea border area of more than 46,000 km2 and a coastline of 852 kilometres bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Guinea. It has offshore and near waters, estuaries, bays, coastal rivers, creeks, and fresh swamps. Also, eight Nigerian states — 25 percent of the total population — share Atlantic Ocean coastline, out of the 36 states in the countries. In spite of these abundant resources in its seas and oceans to support its development drive and economic diversification, the country has not fully taken the advantages of the oceans resources, particularly in the aspect of maritime tourism, to develop its economy.
As a result of this, the country is losing out on many opportunities available in the multi-billion maritime tourism. Apart from the massive economic resources discovered in the ocean of the country, some experts stated that Nigeria has over 200 various species of fishes in its sea with massive economic values that could serve as a medium of attraction to tourists worldwide. Dr. Bashir Jamoh, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), stated recently at an occasion that in comparison to world economies, Nigeria lagged behind in this field. He asserted that a well-maintained tourism sector will promote sustainable development. He further called for partnership between maritime sectors and tourism in Nigeria.
A well-maintained sector can provide a better quality of life.
Jamoh acknowledged that Nigeria is engaging very well in the tourism sector, but lagging behind in marine tourism sector in comparison to different economies in the world. He expressed his fascination and commended the organisers of the event because a well-maintained sector can provide a better quality of life, provide opportunities for income, sustain, support and conserve development. According to him, the industry will be a low-hanging and easy strategy for the economic development agenda of the country, using the massive resources available in the sector.
However, he noted that investment should not compulsorily involve human capital and huge materials. He added that economic sectors like medium- and small-scale enterprises could generate economic benefits and a number of jobs associated with the sector. Therefore, he familiarised the association between the tourism sector, marine potential and NIMASA, stating that security and safety were essential for the development of the marine tourism. Stakeholders are also needed to back up all the policies statement of the government and engagements on the conservation of biodiversity, maritime ecosystem and other resources that are invaluable for the development of this form of tourism in Nigeria.
There is a need to protect, preserve and develop marine endowments.
Additionally, he added that the advantages of tourism would only be achieved with guaranteed security. It can be attained by linking associated cities and bridging gaps by constructing infrastructure, while the water bodies are used for the attractions of tourist. According to research, the ocean economy worth about $20 trillion. These include renewable energy industries and fishing pharmaceutical. Hence, there is a need to protect, preserve and develop the maritime endowment and, appropriately, connect the industries to attain the desired goal.
NIMASA, as a sector of the government, will continually play complimentary support to development and economic growth. It has invested more in the deployment and acquisition of marine security assets. He implored stakeholders to make judicious use of the involvement in the relevant marine tourism and investment in the marine sector because the waters are safe now. Frank Meke, a tourism expert, stated that globally there is usually large ships that tour from place to place for tourist purposes. They are rarely seen in Nigeria, but many sail from/to Capetown, South Africa.
Eight Nigerian states have marine electoral communities.
Frank asserted that Nigeria is blessed with water ecosystems while eight states have electoral communities. Like many countries, New York grew out of the water and is an electoral town. In Nigeria, States that are closer to waters are Badagry, Onitsha and Lokoja and like the Europe waterfront properties, Nigeria can build its own. Also, Lekki, Ikoyi and Banana Island are closer to waters and have access to the advantages of the water tourism environment. He said that the engagement with the Europeans in the large water ecosystem is because Nigeria has neglected fishery totally.