Barring all odds , the 650, 000 barrels production capacity refinery owned by no other person than the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote will officially be on for commercial operations in less than one year from now.
This is certainly going to change the face of our economy in different ways. In the first place , so many of our youths will be employed directly or indirectly. It will as well create and increase business opportunities for our people in different respects. It will also boost our foreign exchange earnings and probably put an end to importation of petroleum products from abroad.
Apart from the above, availability of petroleum products would be guaranteed and returns on investment would be higher and transactions circle in the petroleum business would be faster while delivery of services would be more efficient among others.
While the list of benefits that will accompany Dangote Refinery & Petrochemical plants operations might be endless to Nigerians and humanity, it will certainly reenact the position of Nigeria as a maritime hub in West Africa , Africa and amongst the maritime nations of the world.
As a maritime nation with the unimaginable potentials presented by Dangote Refinery that should be set for commercial activities in less than a year from now, one particular sub-sector of the economy that has been subjected to all manners of sabotage by the regulatory authority is shipping that should have direct positive impacts from the commercial activities of Dangote Refinery.
About 18 years ago , the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo enacted a law that should naturally serve as economic catalysts to the nation and stakeholders in the maritime industry. It is called Cabotage Law. The law prevents foreigners from trading in our waterways. It reserves the right for domestic trade and shipping activities for our people which is the case around the world.
The primary reasons for this law is to empower our citizens with exclusive rights over domestic trade in our waterways so as to create limitless opportunities presented by ocean economy to enable our shipping practitioners and other stakeholders be prosperous in their choice of trade. Lo and behold! Eighteen years down the line, this law has remained battered and subjected to all manners of manipulations by civil servants who are supposed to implement and enforced it since eighteen years. The regulatory authority , NIMASA that is empowered by law to implement this Cabotage Law under different leadership have come up with different timelines but hit the brick wall.
Now that Dangote Refinery will present limitless opportunities especially to ship owners , how prepared is NIMASA for this ? How can the domestic shipping trade be in the hands of our citizens rather than foreigners as captured in our Cabotage Law ?
The CVFF has become talk shows and nightmares ! What is NIMASA doing to ensure that Nigeria Shipowners who have been traded out of business due to unfriendly policies have their fortunes changed with Dangote Refinery? Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical plants, no doubt, are organic to cabotage trade if the regulatory authority (NIMASA) will for once put their acts together and do the needful.
.Otunba Sola A Olatunji- Member- Nigeria Shipowners Association (NISA).