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    Experts canvass ocean exploration, maritime tourism

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    Experts in the maritime sector have called for the exploration of biodiversity, deep sea mining, cable line activities and maritime tourism among others to transform the blue economy.

    They also tipped the marine sector to address the power generation issues via renewable energy as well as food insecurity through fisheries.They stated this at the silver jubilee of the League of Maritime Editors (LOME) in Lagos themed, ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential in Marine and Blue Economy/The New Customs 2023 Act and its implication on Trade’.

    A lecturer at the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU), Okerenkoko, Delta State, Dr. Charles Okorefe, said biodiversity, ocean exploration, deep sea mining, cable line activities and maritime tourism are absent in Nigeria.

    Okorefe, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, Kamany Marine Services, said in The Gambia and the Caribbeans, marine tourism is the main source of its national income, whereas Nigeria is still far behind.

    “People flock to the Bahamas, Curacao and all of those small island nations who have nothing else but their marine environment bringing in billions of dollars,” he said.

    Okorefe noted that there is a projection of over 100 million jobs through the nation’s blue economy in about 30 years, stressing that a lot could be harnessed through the nation’s marine system and the blue economy.

    “Nigeria has been a maritime nation for a very long time. We have been running our port systems beginning from when the Port-Harcourt port was established in 1912 and the Apapa port in 1924. Up till now, we have had several ports doting the landscape of Nigeria where import and export trades take place. But the blue economy is deeper than that,” he stated.

    He encouraged the supervisory ministry to explore partnerships with other related ministries to gainfully exploit ocean and marine resources. Okorefe said the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy has a lot of work to do, while the parastatal under it has to be on their toes and key into the vision of the blue economy. He said the faster stakeholders get the acts right by bringing together those who can drive the vision of the ministry, the better it is for Nigeria.

    Also speaking, the President of the Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Frank Ogunojemite, attributed some of the challenges faced by operators at ports to neglect by the Federal Government.

    Ogunojemite revealed that for over one week, cargoes could not exit the port due to the epileptic server of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). He lamented that importers and freight forwarders are made to pay huge demurrage for the inadequacies of the government through its technical partner, Webb Fontaine.

    “When the problem is fixed, will there be a compensatory arrangement or waivers for the rent period at terminals?” the APFFLON President queried.
    Responding, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, described the theme for the anniversary as apt to examine the contributions of the marine sector to trade, commercial development and national economic growth.

    Oyetola, who was represented by the Ministry’s Director, Press and Public Relations, Mr. Olujimi Oyetomi, said the ministry has set up machinery and structures for the sector and made all principal actors and agencies key into realising the potential of the sector for job creation, social development and increased contributions to economic development.

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

    The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said that its improvement of airport facilities, passenger facilitation and security has encouraged tourism in Nigeria.

    The agency said that the drastic action taken by the Managing Director, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku against touting at the airports has brought sanity and orderliness to the satisfaction of travellers.

    Kuku identified some of these achievements when she spoke at the Wings of Change Focus Africa Conference (WOCFA) overseen by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week; held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    A statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs & Consumer Protection, Obiageli Orah, said FAAN has recently taken steps to make Nigeria’s airports safe and accessible by genuine tourists and travellers and has also made efforts to eliminate touting and other forms of criminal conducts around the airports.

    FAAN boss also spoke on the recent creation of a dedicated Department for Cargo Services in the agency, as stakeholders emphasized the need for improvement of trade facilitation, including air cargo facilities and infrastructure, cargo compliance, closer collaboration amongst African countries and Stakeholders as well as Cargo Specialized Training for stakeholders.

    There was emphasis on digitalization of passenger processing and how the embrace of robotics technology by airports in Africa would help to give customers further experience of speed, efficiency and excellence. The use of technology to drive efficiency has been part of FAAN’s priority agenda under the present dispensation.

    Making his input on the first day of the conference, the Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, emphasised the need for removal of visa restrictions to enable free movement of people and goods across the continent, stating that to achieve this, there is need to work with Foreign Affairs Ministers across Africa.

    The Minister equally made a case for adequate funding of air transport in Africa.

    Also speaking at the event, IATA,s Regional Vice President, Africa & Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi called for pursuit of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which constitutes part of FAAN’s recent programmes.

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    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

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    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

    Following the Ekiti State renewed effort to attract tourist’s influx to the numerous wonder sites scattered around the state and especially the flag destination, Ikogosi Warm and Cold Springs Resort, the Director-General of Ekiti State Bureau of Tourism Development, Ambassador Wale Ojo-Lanre, has said that the state is safe with the level of security architecture put in by the government.

    Ojo-Lanre disclosed this to tourism writers, on ground to see the new face of Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort and noted that Ikogosi, which is the new pride of the state, is perfectly safe and welcoming to tourists.

    Clearing the air on anxieties of insecurity in the state, Ojo-Lanre said the recounted bouts happened on the suburbs of Ekiti, maintaining that the tourism zones like Ikogosi community and its environ are safe.

    He said there were cautious efforts by the state government to secure tourists. “I don’t want to expose our security strategy, but I can tell you that we are the only state that has a homeland security as a parastatal under my agency. We know what is going on. When the road is not safe, tourism is in danger,” he stated.

    Meanwhile the Ekiti State government is fine-tuning plans to develop a tourism master plan, a working blueprint to practically explore and develop products and services to create and drive the economy of the state.

    Ojo-Lanre explained that for any serious state to enhance its tourism potentialities to the expected capacity, it must first develop a tourism master plan.

    “A tourism development master plan is a necessity for any state that wants to develop and the state governor, Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, emphasised that the first thing we have to do is to develop a tourism master plan for Ekiti and we started.

    “We have started drafting our tourism policy and we have identified the consultants to work on our tourism master plan. It would be delivered between August and October this year,” Ojo-Lanre added.

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

    KAINJI National Park, an expansive natural reserve in Niger State covering an area of about 5,341 square kilometres, and known for its biodiversity and rich cultural heritage, has unfortunately garnered attention for a much more sinister reason. A recent report revealed that the park has become a haven for terrorists. This alarming development calls for urgent and decisive action to reclaim the park and ensure the safety of the wildlife and the surrounding communities.

    The Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think-tank, in a new report, said there is ample evidence Islamic terrorists from the Sahel have crossed into Nigeria through the Benin Republic border. The jihadis believed to be of the ISWAP sect, were said to have settled in Kebbi State and the KNP, turning the facility into their base.

    In reaction, the Director, Defence Media Operations, Edward Buba said the military was conducting operations in terrorist enclaves in the North-Central, which includes the KNP. A targeted military assault to root out the terrorists should not be delayed.

    The presence of terrorists in Kainji is a stark reminder of the broader security challenges that Nigeria faces. These groups exploit the remote and dense forest areas as strategic hideouts, using the park as a base for planning and executing attacks.

    The insurgents are engaged in poaching, logging, and mining, weakening the park’s protection, and further endangering the flora and fauna. The local communities have deserted their homes for IDP camps while several kidnapped persons are being held captive by the criminals.

    The park, part of Nigeria’s first and largest protected area, is home to wildlife, including elephants, lions, and numerous bird species. The park encompasses Kainji Lake, a critical resource. The terrorists’ invasion poses significant national security implications for Nigeria.

    Kainji Dam, which plays a crucial role in Nigeria’s hydroelectric power generation and irrigation systems, is located near the KNP. The dam’s presence within the park means that any security threats to the park, such as terrorist occupation, directly impact the safety and functionality of this critical infrastructure.

    Any attack on the dam or other facilities could disrupt electricity generation, affecting millions of Nigerians and causing significant economic and social upheaval.

    The seizure of the park by the insurgents has severe humanitarian implications. Local communities, who depend on the park for their livelihoods through fishing, farming, and tourism, live in fear. The terrorists’ activities disrupt economic activities, displace families, and create an environment of instability.

    Nigeria has suffered huge losses to Boko Haram and ISWAP rebels since 2009 when the militants started fighting the state. Human losses and displacements, especially in the North-East epicentre, are horrendous.

    To reclaim the park from the insurgents, an immediate and well-coordinated military action is essential. This intervention should be precise to avoid collateral damage to the park’s ecosystem and local communities. Empowering local security forces with training and resources can help maintain security once the initial military operations are completed. Establishing a permanent security presence in and around the park will prevent the terrorists from reoccupying it.

    Leveraging international support and expertise in counterterrorism and conservation can enhance Nigeria’s efforts. Partnerships with global conservation organisations can also help restore and protect the park’s biodiversity post-conflict. Implementing advanced monitoring and surveillance technologies, such as drones and satellite imagery, can provide real-time information on illegal activities and movement within the park, enabling quicker and more effective responses.

    Restoring the park to its rightful status as a sanctuary for wildlife and a resource for sustainable development is not only a national imperative but a global one. The world is watching, and President Bola Tinubu must rise to this challenge, demonstrating resilience and determination in adversity.

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