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Building Capacity To Maximize The Trade And Tourism Opportunities Available At The Eastern Ports: Lawyers In Admiralty Sector Trains For Efficiency In Handling Maritime Claims And Briefs

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Lawyers in the Admiralty sector says they are working with relevant stakeholders in the maritime and port’s authorities to ensure that all the ports in the eastern regions becomes functional in no distant time.

The National president of Admiralty lawyer’s society of Nigeria Angus Chukwuka at a two days’ capacity building workshops for lawyers in the Admiralty sector said the Niger delta waters have huge tourist potential populated with sea foods.

He said it has become imperative to train lawyers and all stakeholders in the maritime. Seafarers and ports handlers to position themselves to maximize the opportunities available within the ports and maritime sector

Angus said ‘’with the hope of a deep seaport located in Akwaibom state and if the people down here do not build capacity to handle the volume of businesses that the deep seaport will bring then people from outside the country or even Lagos will come and take the jobs.

He added that ‘’it’s not as if we are saying that other people should not work in our region but it will be beneficial that we create professional baseline in the sector to benefit the people who own theses Resources

He said the aim of the training is to ensure that eastern region enjoy as much patronage as that of Lagos, and the people understand what it takes to become a major player in the maritime industry.

The National president of Admiralty Lawyers society of Nigeria Angus Chukwuka also called on Federal government to take the issues of porous waterways serious. He revealed that lack of demonstrated capacity in   the realm of Admiralty is responsible for capital flight witnessed in the sector

Earlier on at the workshop the National President of Admiralty Lawyers society of Nigeria Angus Chukwuka while addressing the participants at the two days Associate Membership Course which held at EEMJMS Hotels Uyo the AKWAIBOM State capital said “Nigeria has what it takes to be a major player in the maritime world. The country has been blessed with unbelievably great marine environment.  Our seabed is rich with mineral resources, as our waters are populated with sea foods. We have waters which natural channels and drought have the potentials of being not just tourist ambience but world class maritime hubs.

The tourist potentials of the Niger Delta waters are so enormous that not harnessing them effectively may be the reason the country is struggling with payment of the lingering minimum wages, varsity teachers’ emoluments and foreign loan profiles. Akwa Ibom State for instance is blessed with, perhaps, the most promising natural water channel in this nation. The tourist value of this Akwa Ibom endowment must be transformed into tangible employment creating ventures for income earning and government internally generated revenue.

A boosted tourism industry in Akwa Ibom can salvage the unemployment situation not only in the state but also in the nation. Beyond tourism, the siting of a deep seaport in Akwa Ibom would generate as much as four million jobs, lead to spring up and growth of maritime businesses in the state. Generated appurtenant maritime operations and services could lead to creation of over two million jobs for unemployed youths in the state and beyond. Internally generated revenue for the state would soar as high as heavens. Nigeria would be better for it as the nation income earnings and Gross domestic product will experience a boom.

Akwa Ibom deep-sea port experiment or project would present great possibilities. Nigeria will have another opportunity of managing a boom. If the country failed to manage the oil boom, it may perhaps demonstrate capacity to manage a maritime boom. Aside from Akwa Ibom State, the deep-sea port may also be sited in any of the states in the Niger Delta. This would make for some balanced trade relationships, and proper development for nation’s maritime industry.

Wherever it is sited, capacity is key. Our capacity as a nation, to build and sustain a buoyant maritime industry can provide an answer for our chronic debt burdens, and sprawling infrastructural decays. It can provide an alternative route to oil exploration and exploitation and may in fact wear us the cap as indeed the giant of Africa, terminating decades of national pretensions. Pertinently there is also the capacity to provide promote or promulgate the right rules, regulations, policies and laws relating to the maritime industry.

Monitoring, enforcing or implementing such rules, regulations, policies and laws of course require capacity. These capacities are not inherent. They are acquired or developed over time as enhancements to productivity and profitability. Sadly, however, we do not have or do not demonstrate enough of this capacity in Nigeria and we must admit this.

The lack of capacity, or demonstration of capacity in the realm of admiralty, is the reason for this course work. It is a training program geared towards the building of capacity in the area of maritime law and practice.

We seek to build the capacity of lawyers on Bills of lading and International Conventions, Charter Party contracts, Arrest and Release of ships and air crafts, Maritime Jurisdiction, Maritime Liens and a host of others. We are intent at simplifying the terms, usages and procedures in maritime law/ practice to attendees with the hope of sharpening their knowledge and skills. The result is that they will become more efficient in handling maritime claims and briefs. Apart from that, they will become more knowledgeable of maritime rules, regulations and laws and demonstrate ability towards implementing and enforcing them. Such capacity will further help our agencies who may be their employers to better regulate, and develop our nation’s maritime industry. An improved capacity in maritime can guarantee prevention of capital flights from the state and the nation. Nothing can be more rewarding than that.

Now we salute the federal government for closing the national borders. The reason apparent are (1) that it will help secure the country from criminality and criminal infiltration’s (2) That it will help check influx of foreign products at the expense local production. Hence, it will facilities our economy diversification efforts. We agree that China and Japan are beneficiaries of such drastic efforts and are today great economies.

We however pray the government to pay more than lip service to maritime security. Security of our waterways if porous will greatly hamper   the current border closure policies and measures. It is important for the federal government to overhaul the agencies involved in law enforcement and operations in our waterways. We must have honest, courageous, visionary and competent personnel watching over or operating in our waterways.

If not the current, policies would be waste of time and efforts and would end in starvation and frustration of the citizenry.  Again, tackling the menace of piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery at sea require adequate checks.  The federal government, the multinational companies and all stakeholders must synergize to secure our waterways. The poor foreign investments into our maritime industry may be largely due to the increasing insecurity on our waterways. Dealing with the security challenges must therefore be at the front burner.

We equally welcome the new tax postulations of the federal government to drive the new budget. Britain, United States of America and other western countries are reaping dividends from stringent tax regimes or systems. However, it is also true that their governments religiously provide the welfare of their citizens   and put good infrastructural facilities in place.

Indeed, what is key are enforce ability, consistency, accountability and profitability. The citizenry must pay tax, which is in tandem with economic reality in the country at this time. The tax payable must also be consistent by cutting across board. It should not be applied indiscriminately or discriminatory, or applied on some sections of the country while certain sections go tax-free. Accountability implies that the tax officers must be above board. We must avoid a situation where hard-earned monies are extorted from the citizenry only to end as private mansions and cars and companies or are amassed into   private accounts. People will pay tax out genuine concern and expectation. Not out of coercive force and hopelessness.

Profitability means that the taxes paid must translate into tangible and verifiable infrastructural development. Good roads, electricity, industries and other social amenities encourage consistent Payment of taxes.

“We urge that as these taxes are paid they be invested as a matter of urgency into the development of our maritime industry, particularly, in the building of deep seaports and attraction of foreign investments thereon. Maritime is the best alternative to oil, and priced better”.

Also speaking during his presentation the Anchor for the training, Professor IBIBIA WORIKA called for an end to sea pollution in the Niger Delta and eastern region, Professor IBIBIA WORIKA who is also the chairman of Research and Training at the Faculty, Admiralty Lawyers Sector explained that if sea pollution is not handled could pose a great danger to ocean going vessels as particles and debris could trap vessels engine which could in turn drive away businesses from the region.

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