“Nigeria Institute of Oceanography will boost concept of blue economy” -NASS
Luqmon Balogun, Lagos
The Nigerian National Assembly says the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), will play an integral role for government to develop the concept of the blue economy, so as to generate more revenue in the maritime sector.
Members House of Representatives Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Research Institutions gave this indication during working oversight duties to the research institute in Lagos.
Chairman of the Committee, Munir Baba Dan Agundi said the committee members are happy with the level of infrastructural development NIOMR has put in place within the shortest period of time coupled with the paucity of funds bedevilling the agency in the last 40 years.
He said based on the budgetary submission proposed by the agency, it is imperative for the house committee to visit and verify their facilities, see things they have done, and to see the areas of interventions from the National Assembly in terms of proper funding.
Agundi mentioned that under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the agency has improved with the little resources they are getting from government, while urging them to do more in area of research as well as to collaborate with her sister agencies, like the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA and the rest, in order to improve the nation’s economy.
“In 2011 and 2012, I came here to see the facilities of the fishery college and NIOMR, and that time where we are standing right now is not somewhere you can come near, and you can see the level of infrastructural improvement in the college which is very commendable, and what we are standing on here (the Jetty) which has been resuscitated.
“In the last 40 years, there was no funding for them to carry out the repair. But with what we have seen today, we’re happy to report that there is considerable improvement in their infrastructure facilities to research on, and with the little funding they’re getting from government, they have done a lot and the members are satisfied and we will continue to engage them to do more in area of research, and also to ensure that they collaborate with other agencies for an enhanced expansion on its mandate.
“And as members of the national assembly we’re trying to understand the mandate of all our agencies especially this one that has to do with research and see how we can help them in terms of funding,” he said
The Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Professor Garba Sharubutu said NIOMR is going to be empowered to conduct research to know the level of resources of the blue economy.
He said the agency should not restrict itself to fishery alone, as they are going to study the varieties of fishing products in the ocean, the population of the fish the country has, so as to develop them alongside other marine products.
According to him, “for quite some time the research institute has been underfunded and the performance in terms of research has not been very serious. But with coming of President Muhammadu Buhari administration, there’s need to focus on agriculture for the purpose of diversification of the Nigerian economy.“
He explained that diversification does not only affect the oil industry alone, even in agriculture there seem to be over concentration on crop production and if the country is serious to diversify, it should be looking at other areas of agricultural importance.
“And that’s the reason why within the sector we have been looking at the livestock sub sector where we have the agricultural livestock transformation program and now we are concentrating on the fish and marine products, and we have institutions that are responsible for this. For the fresh water fishery and marine, NIOMR is the institute that has been given the mandate to develop the marine resources and in other to do that they need a lot of facilities and this facility is what the government has provided,” Sharubutu said
Apart from seeking funding from the National Assembly committee on Agriculture, Sharubutu added that the institute is also looking inward to generate revenue themselves, explaining that the Ministry has given all agencies under it a target to meet in order to be self sustaining, and part of the agenda is the usefulness of the jetty which is expected to bring in revenue when put to use.
House member representing Ibeju Lekki constituency, who is also part of the committee, Prince Bayo Balogun said the agency should ensure that their research must relate and be of benefit to the community of their area.
He said that once there is any fishing technological breakthrough by the agency, people in the area must be seen using the technology because their research is for the people, and not meant for the archives.
Keeping to mandate
The Executive Director of the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Doctor Sule Abiodun said the commendation by the committee shows that the agency is keeping to its mandate, which is development of the blue economy in support of this government agricultural policy.
He however urged the committee members to support the institute more so as to improve the economic value of the country.