Taking the maritime sector as economic anchor, the Federal Government says it is targeting placing Nigeria among the first 70 countries in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business index, a most sought-after economic feat globally, by 2023. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, stated this Saturday night in Lagos at the third edition of the annual Corporate Dinner and Merit Awards organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
That projection came as Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said the transportation sector was being developed as a strategic driver of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s economic diversification and growth agenda. Amaechi said the government was focused on the establishment of a strong intermodal transport system that would facilitate seamless movement of goods and people and drastically reduce the cost of transportation and business, generally.
Mustapha, who chaired the evening of honours for outstanding maritime players, said recent improvements in the Nigerian maritime industry had positioned it as a viable guarantee of economic growth and wealth creation. He disclosed with delight that Nigeria had moved from 170 to 131 in the global ease of doing business table since Buhari established the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in July 2016.
The council was set up to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria and make the country an increasingly easier place to start and grow a business.
Mustapha said the PEBEC initiative, coupled with significant developments in ports and maritime, had engendered great improvements in ease of doing business in the country.
“In our bid to improve efficiency and productivity in the maritime industry and the country at large, the PEBEC was created to ensure an enabling environment for port efficiency. Government will continue to support the maritime sector because on it rests opportunities for wealth creation and economic growth,” he stated.
On his part, Amaechi said with a developed transport sector, “There will be increased productivity, which comes with creation of more jobs and production of more goods and services. All these will make the economy more competitive, reduce dependence on oil, and usher in economic growth. This is our target.”
According to him, “We are aware that transportation is key in any economic development plan. The major elements of production – raw materials, machines, people, finished products, etc. – have to be seamlessly moved from one point to the other as the need arises.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari government is implementing a transport policy, which entails linking all seaports in the country by rail, in line with global best practices. All over the world, the most efficient way to transport heavy cargo is by water and rail.
“We have a 25-year rail modernisation programme, involving the development of a comprehensive intermodal system. We are taking the rail from where the past governments stopped to the seaports. The Lagos-Kano rail line, which began from Ebute Metta, is being taken from Ebute Metta to Apapa seaport.
“We will take it from Tin Can and Apapa to connect the new Lekki port. The rail line from Lagos to Calabar links Port Harcourt, Onne, and Warri seaports. Our goal is to have a system where importers would bring in their goods and load them on the rail that takes them to the hinterland, thus, easing the pressure on the roads and increasing their longevity.”
On the economic significance of transportation, Amaechi said, “Adequate investment in transport infrastructure will enhance the efficiency, reliability, and capacity of the transportation system, which will, in turn, lead to lower transport costs, shorter transit times, increased business efficiency, and business expansion, as money previously spent on transport is ploughed back into business.”
In his welcome address, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, noted the significant change in the reputation of the Agency in the last few years. Dakuku said the burnished image was part of the fruits of the Management’s deliberate effort to change the old ways of doing things in the industry and the Agency, for the overall good of the economy.
He highlighted some of the achievements of the Agency in the last three years to include the Final Billing regime, which has significantly reduced turnaround time for all vessel billing transactions from reduced turnaround time for all vessel billing transactions from between five and 10 years to two weeks of the ship’s departure; increased tonnage, with Nigeria currently placing second in Africa, after Liberia; and reduction of turnaround time for issuance of Sailing Clearance from about one year to 14 days.
Other achievements of the Agency, according to Dakuku, include digital transformation; improved maritime safety, security, and domain awareness; the tripartite agreement by maritime stakeholders, which has ensured harmonious labour relations in the industry; renewed capacity building drive through implementation of a five-year Cabotage cessation plan; and enhancement of the Nigerian Ship Registry.
Highlights of the occasion included the conferment of awards to outstanding maritime industry players and staff of NIMASA. One hundred and eighty one staff of the Agency bagged long service awards for 15-30 years of service, with Mrs. Constance Omagbemi getting the coveted Employee of the Year.
GAC Shipping Company won the Overall Shipping Company of the Year, among eight awardees of the Industry Stakeholders Merit Award. They were Total Exploration and Production Company, AP Miller Terminal, Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), and the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron.
Others were West African Ventures, Awaritse Nigeria Limited, and Sea Navigation International Limited.
Six state governors graced the occasion, including the host governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of Lagos State, who came with his deputy, Femi Hamzat, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State. Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State was represented by the Deputy Governor, Manassah Daniel Jatau.
Other dignitaries included Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje, who represented Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Ikpeazu; Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman; and Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), George Muoghalu.
NPA empowers Enugu women, youths with vocational skills equipment
The Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, has empowered over 100 women and youths of Umuaram-Ikem, Isi-Uzo local government area of Enugu state with vocational skills training and empowerment items to create employment and wealth generation.
According to today.ng, the equipments distributed freely to the community members as part of the NPA’s corporate social responsibility included sewing and grinding machines.
Handing over the equipment, Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman stated that the items were meant for indigent citizens to use and augment their leaving so as to uplift them from shackles of poverty.
Represented by NPA Assistant General Manager Procurement, Engr. Okechukwu Eze, Usman said that the agency has as targets, women and youths who may have learnt some trades but could not find equipment to start the business, hence the intervention to alleviate some persons from difficulty and poverty.
She noted that the grinding machines were for those who did not posses formal skills, but needed low scale businesses to survive and cope with family responsibilities.
“The Managing Director has a small message for the beneficiaries: There are those who sell their machines for a token, the purpose of this equipment is to open business outlets with them to help augment your leaving. In a few years time you will become millionaires. Please don’t sell them,” Eze pleaded with the beneficiaries.
Traditional Ruler of Ikem-Uno community, HRH, Igwe Okey Ogbodo expressed appreciation for the empowerment items offered members of the community, saying he initially thought the project was in a proposal stage but was surprised to see the equipments on the ground within a short period of notice.
“We appreciate the support of NPA and we look forward to the MD’s visit to Ikem to see the result of the NPA empowerment scheme,” the monarch said.
One of the beneficiaries who got a sewing machine, Miss Chidinma Ugwu said that even though she did not learn tailoring, she would henceforth enroll for the trade since she already has starter equipment.
Fashion design is a lucrative enterprise and I am glad that this has given me the opportunity to go and start learning the trade which I know will benefit me in a long run,” Ugwu said.
President General of the Ikem federated Improvement Union, Prof Sam Ugwu while appreciating the NPA gesture to his community said he thought it was politicians who were exclusively entitled to distribute empowerment items.
These Auto Companies Attracted N360bn Investment To Nigeria In One Year, Created 4,782 Jobs
The National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) said automotive manufacturing companies in Nigeria made over N360 billion investments into the country’s economy in year 2019.
With this latest development, the Council said Nigeria’s auto industry now has capacity to build at least 408,870 vehicles yearly.
The Council also disclosed that the companies which include, Peugeot, Honda, Mitsubishi vehicle manufacturers, Innoson, among others created employment for about 4,782 Nigerians. Director-general,
National Automotive Design and Development (NADDC), Jelani Aliyu, revealed this at the ongoing review of the Nigerian Automotive Policy Bill & Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) in Abuja.
Aliyu also said the NADDC has a N5billion vehicle finance arrangement that would enable Nigerians purchase new cars and repay the loan at agreed terms.
Explaining further, he said Nigerians can now put down 10 per cent of the value of cars they want to buy and spread payments for over five years, adding that this arrangement has been concluded with some selected banks in the country with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He, therefore, urged the stakeholders to come up with recommen dations that would be captured in the proposed new NAIDP bill to be forwarded to the national assembly for passage.
While declaring the meeting open, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otumba Niyi Adebayo, explained that as part of efforts on the part of the federal government to implement the Nigerian Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NIRP), the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) was approved to transform the country’s automotive industry landscape and attract investment into the sector.
Adebayo, who expressed concern that automobiles and automotive components importation into the country gulped about $8 billion, said this would not continue any longer.
He, therefore, charged participants to work as a team and come up with better recommendation that could be put forward as concrete plan or bill to reverse the present trend.
In his earlier remarks, the chairman of the NADDC board, Senator Osita Izunaso, said the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) 2014—2024 was designed to ensure growth and sustained development of the auto industry in Nigeria.
According to him, the plan has five critical elements aimed at addressing various challenges facing the sectors and they include infrastructure development, investment promotion, standards, skills development and market expansion.
He therefore urged the participants to come up with relevant recommendations that could be put together and passed to the national assembly.
Izunaso said, ‘’This meeting organised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMIT) in conjunction with the National Automotive Design and Development Council brings together all actors in the Nigerian automotive industry to discuss and review of the efforts put in getting the Auto Policy Bill passed by the 8th National Assembly but couldn’t get Presidential assent due to observed short comings.’’