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Nigeria Blue Economy, Prof Gunter Pauli And Hon. Oyetola: The Romance And Hype (1)

BY EGUONO ODJEGBA

Last week Wednesday through the weekend, Nigerians were awakened to a new understanding of the vast opportunities the nation’s blue economy has to offer in term s of economic growth and its exponential gross domestic product (GDP) performance, employment generation, exploration and its regenerative options for the renewal of the ecosystem.

NIMASA DG and Prof, Pauli during the Abuja dialogue

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The permutations and forecast also covers much larger scope and advantages said to be contained in the national socio economic sustainability framework; with huge national outlook participation.

Incidentally, the new valve was also wrapped around an enigma, a global trustbuster so to speak, in the person of Prof Gunter Pauli, put forward by the internet as an innovation and sustainability expert.

Pauli given the additional aggregate nuances already woven around him via local media image laundering, is the messiah of our nation’s marine and blue economy, without whom the entire venture may amount to very little or nothing at all.

Even the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) which initiated the commencement of the blue economy project more than  five years ago with promises of its deliverables over the short, medium, long term has since the entry of Pauli convulsed into its shell and wholly abdicated the future successes of the project to this internet prodigy; whose only real pedigree it would seem is accentuated through the obnoxious facts of his acclaim performances as given in Morocco, Argentina, China and Brazil by a number of local foreign media, including that of Nigeria; and which details shall be provided and explained as we progress in this report.

Suffice to warn that the Honourable Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Honourable Adegboyega Oyetola CON should shine his eyes and avoid walking blindfolded as it were, into bumpy trap set by overzealous subordinates to ensnare him into falling into the pit of irreverence through wrong and or poorly documented contracts, ingeniously designed to promote the workability of the blue economy.

Hon. Oyetola

Already, the Honourable Minister appear clearly taken in by Prof Pauli, and appeared almost in a hurry to sign contract agreement to turn over the superintendence of our blue economy project to the Belgian; albeit with scarce evidence of his audit performance records signed by the various countries which economies Pauli reportedly has restructured and repositioned.

The other day, Pauli’s Nigerian contact organization, Premium Blue Economy, Innovation and Investment, represented by Mr. Gelegele Olushola Yahya on live television programme dressed Prof Pauli up with a flattering global credential, claiming that the Belgian has helped China, France, Argentina and other countries to achieve incremental capacity development and critical growth output in their respective blue economies.

Google facts check through the three above named countries however did not produce results that they assigned such jobs to Pauli, raising concerns that those positioning him in Nigeria may be doing so for obvious reasons which are not farfetched.

Whereas it is not the job or intention of this reporter to fault whatever claims Prof. Pauli and his Nigerian promoters may have appropriated in his intimidating credentials and job resume, the task here however is to ensure that the signing of any contract with Pauli or any foreigner for that matter must be supported not only by a performance bond from notable institutional undertakers, but that evidences of his contractual engagements with all the countries he has been listed to have served and recreated their economies should be submitted during the public bid for the blue economy.

With our past woeful contracts regime that continually fail because they are given to friends of the government, Nigeria cannot afford to go to sleep while this important contract for the policy development of the blue economy is also treated with minimum sense of responsibility; that will not be acceptable.

It is also very strange how Oyetola who is barely two months in office, hooked up with foreign experts on how best to develop our blue economy without consideration for local content participation.

Whilst we cannot say that local experts hold the ace for the right performance records and or that they are the best option, neither has our appetite for foreign taste taken us to the promised land.

Indigenous capacity participation must be encouraged and hence must be integrated into the contract framework through transparent public bidding. It is most insensitive for this government to seek to foist a foreigner for the capacity development of the nation’s blue economy whilst we have qualified and competent indigenous hands.

With the evident haste, one would think that the plot to swing the blue economy contract in favour of Pauli or any other foreigner for that matter is essentially for narrow considerations. It is even most strange and seriously disturbing that the leadership of NIMASA that has trumpeted to the high heavens the supposed preparatory groundwork for the takeoff of the blue economy, is also the one fawning effusively over the messianic capability of Pauli; without as much a look over their shoulders at our indigenous resource persons and firms for which the Agency continually claimed to have contributed to their capacity development.

Last week, NIMASA Director General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh OFR said he met with Prof Gutter Pauli to discuss development possibilities in the nation’s blue economy, and disclosed that their meeting was sequel to an earlier one between Oyetola and the Belgian. Jamoh assured that through Pauli the federal government would be able to catalyze the smooth take-off of the marine and blue economy project.

His words, “I had the opportunity to meet the man that formulated the global policies around Blue Economy, and we have discussed various ways to harness the resources in the Nigerian waters in a sustainable manner.

“He has expressed his willingness to work with the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to formulate policies that will help Nigerians begin to enjoy the gains of the establishment of the Ministry.”.

Pauli reportedly said he is willing to assist the Nigerian Government to develop policies that will grow the sub sector. Since there are no evidences to show facts of his enterprising global versatility in sustainable development initiative aside media testimonials, belief in his capacity to deliver becomes very worrisome.

Anyone can lay claim to being an expert, and there are extremely talented individuals who are skilled at copy and paste, and who does astounding things, including make belief progress without the required qualifications and track record of actual jobs done or their real competences.

They abound, foreign and local, and such people are known to have ripped Nigeria off repeatedly in the past. We have such records in river dredging contracts supervised by the Nigerian Ports Authority. Some of the criminal contractors are in government in different capacity, we have them in irrigation and water basin projects, we have them in the energy and aviation sector; they are everywhere, faking capacities and performances.

Senator Oyetola must get the marine and blue economy sector right; he must slow down on the proposed Pauli contract and not allow himself to be unduly rushed. The proposed upcoming Abu Dubai Conference to which our minister of marine and blue economy is believed to have signaled his interest to attend smells like a bumpy trap.

We must avoid situations where politicians and public office holders trade contracts in a fait accompli manner; and as their retirement benefits, while the nation and economy suffers.

Some of the value analysis his Nigeria promoters listed includes achieving 100 innovations in a spate of ten years, creating employment and lifting one hundred million Nigerians out of the poverty line, all of which sounded too bogus to be true.

And guess what, those are the self same campaign catch phrase and routine propaganda Pauli deploys any where he goes campaigning. That the marine and blue economy ministry did not forebear to first subject him to understudying the peculiarity of the Nigeria environment and ecosystem before aligning  with the man’s his foot soldiers to carve out fantastic forecast that also immediately got our media buzzing, is to say the least, very disturbing.

That Prof Pauli has already been dressed up as a Nigerian politician in our local caftan when the contract has yet to be consummated equally raises a lot of concern.

The minister of marine and blue economy must look more closely to avoid plunging Nigeria into a hoax and another failed dream.

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