By Chinonye Anyatonwu
The Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has vowed to tackle major maritime industrial problems, as the high level of corruption in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other regulatory agencies of government has to be tackled to improve productivity in the ports.
In his speech at a town-hall meeting held at Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos, organized by the Prime Maritime Project for stakeholders, Senator Kwankwaso bemoaned Nigeria’s inability to own a national carrier after the demise of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).
According to Senator Kwankwaso, “I have listened to this wonderful audience and have noted your expectations. I can tell you that I am aware of most of the challenges facing the sector presently.
“For instance is congestion on port access roads in Apapa. It may interest you to know that in one of my visits to Lagos sometimes ago, i was in Apapa and was stunned at the spectacle of articulated trucks lining the ljora Bridge. To me, it was an unacceptable eyesore in a twenty-first century Nigeria.
“It goes to show that we rarely plan for the future. A port system originally designed for a population of less than 50 million people in the 1950s with less than 2.0 million cargo throughput has remained almost the same for more than 200 million population in 2022.
“When a country’s population is increasing at geometric progression and port infrastructure remains static, the resultant effect is chaos. To me, that is the cause of the ljora Bridge debacle and other issues.
“ I can still remember the days of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) with its beautiful ships flying Nigeria’s flag across the globe! Why did it die? Why do we not have a replacement as the giant of Africa? What has become of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)? Why has it not been disbursed to beneficiaries? he questioned.
“It is also my desire to see that the Customs and other regulatory agencies must be made to perform efficiently and effectively. The observed high level corruption in the system has to be tackled to improve the productivity in the ports.
“Again, it is worthy here to make mention of effective border checks and control to stem the tide of smuggling and its related security implications. indeed, the entry points of Nigeria shall attract the desired attention of my administration if elected the President,”
He however assured that the party’s agenda captures the core maritime sector opportunities and challenges.
Also speaking at the town-hall meeting, the founder of the party, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam charged maritime operators to have confidence in Kwankwaso’s candidacy as he would compel him to prioritize maritime problems.
Aniebonam stressed that it is a perfect time to change Nigeria’s govanance approach since there is a total system collapse in Nigeria.
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