22nd June 2006, LAGOS: The journey of one thousand kilometers usually starts with a step; “this saying is synonymous to the fervent drive embarked upon by OKREDANA Nigeria Limited five years ago, towards the expansion and modernization programme of the fishery industry in Nigeria.
OKREDANA had in June 2001, gathered heavyweights of the fishery Industry including resource persons, like Dr. Eric Kwei from the United Nations ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) to brainstorm and cross-fertilize ideas on how to move the Fisheries industry forward because Nigeria is yet to exploit its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The worst-case scenario is that the Federal Government of Nigeria lacks the protection and management of its Fisheries Resource. That is, to install and operate a fishery Surveillance and Control System (FSCS) in order to effectively protect the Fisheries resource of the territorial waters of the 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
OKREDANA strengthened the sensitization drive when Senator J.J. Akpanuedoedehe was convinced by the high points contained in the communiqué in the wake of the seminar — The distinguish senator had prepared a bill for the promulgation, of the National Fisheries Commission. But alas, the Nigeria that we all know is yet to come up with such a thing after the first reading in the National Assembly.
Ghana, a smaller country in every sense whether population or size is greater than Nigeria, when it comes to Fisheries. She can boast of over 113 Tuna Vessels servicing four canneries where 80 per cent is exported and 20 per cent consumed locally. Conversely, Nigeria imports over N27 billion of Fish annually for consumption!
Undaunted by the lack of interest from the expected quarters, OKREDANA had sent copies of report of the eye-opening fishery seminar to the President, Minister of Agriculture, Special Adviser to President on Agriculture and food security and other relevant government agencies. Yet, the lackadaisical posture bounced back.
The logical reasoning being the over-dependence on oil exploration and exploitation, which accounts for a larger chunk of the country’s foreign reserve. And of course, that is the bane of the incessant crisis in the Niger Delta region where the youths especially seemed to have woken up from their slumber, crying all sorts of names ranging from deprivation, marginalization degradation and what have you. Mr. Okubotin Nabena who is the CEO of Okredaria himself hails from Bayelsa State decided to find a lasting solution to most of the problems such as unemployment and idleness. Mr. Nabena, took up the gauntlet for the assiduous task of convincing corporate bodies and government agencies to package a training workshop on Fisheries tagged “the Niger-Delta Fishery training workshop: Catch Your Fish”.slated for the 18 and 19 of May, 2006 at the Hotel Presidential, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
The corporate and government agencies included in the knowledge imparting workshop which will feature live exhibitions of aquaculture/fisheries, are NDDC, World Bank, NEPAD, Shell (SPDC), Elf Petroleum, Wilbahi Investments, Aero Contractors, NAPEP,
Agip, Union Petroleum, Taraba Fisheries, and the National Council for Women Societies.
Mr. Nabena, asserted that knowledge is power. The ensued empowerment would activate positive employment and income distribution effects, as well as help to promote viable cooperatives among the fishing populace. The knowledge to be acquired includes: Aquaculture site selection, Fish Seed Production. Fish Feed Production; Fish Farm Management; Water quality management; Integrated Fish Farming; Brackish Water Culture; Fish harvest and Marketing; Fish Handling; Preservation and Processing; Fish Product Development; Record Keeping.
The crop of seasoned aquaculturist and fishery experts that would impart theseknowledge on the participants include; Mr. Philip Amiengheme, Dep. Director of
Fisheries, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Dr. Lanre Talabi;Executive Director (Finance and Admin) Livestock and Fisheries Development and Marketing Plc; Dr. Modupe Adelusola (Fisheries Consultant); Dr. Patricia Anyanwu, Director African Regional Aquaculture Centre; Mr. Daniel Bekibele (Feed mill Consultant); Prof. Sieghard Holzloehner, UNICAL, Calabar and Mr. G. N. Shimang, Director of Fisheries, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Prof. M. A. Anatekhai, Dean, Facaulty of Science, Lagos State University; Dr. B. Ezenwa, Director National Institute for Oceanography and Marine research (NIOMR) and Mrs. M. Abu, Consultant, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
As an indigene of the crisis-riddled Nigeria Delta region, Mr. Nabena said he plans to eventually bring succour to the plight of his people by encouraging Rapid development of aquaculture where he intend to produce a Fishery Training Manual with the help of the experts working in his team. Already, OKREDANA recently signed an MoU with the African Regional Aquaculture Centre (ARAC) and they have scheduled training of 30 participants who are youths from Shell’s oil producing areas for a post-workshop intensive training in aquaculture/fishery.
OKREDANA intends to implement pilot Fishery projects for at least three of these participants for the others to emulate from. Also, OKREDANA has been appointed consultant to NAPEP (The National Poverty Eradication Programme) on Aquaculture and Fishery in the Multi-Partner Micro Finance Scheme in both Rivers and Ondo States, respectively. On implementing most of these numerous tasks on aquaculture and fishery, Mr. Nabena said he has partnership with some Fishery experts so as to bring about variety of skills and species in aquaculture. Mr. Nabena said his motive is to keep the restive youths away from mischief especially with the recent spate of hostage taking because of the too much focus on the so-called benefits of oil exploration. On a final note, he added that exploitation of Fish food resources in a manner consistent with its long-term sustainability would no doubt foster a new dawn in the economic recovery drive of the present administration. lnfact, this should be the surest key point on the manifestoes of a genuine politician who has the nation’s interest at heart.