Monday, 2 October 2017

Anambra solution to CRFFN crisis

Regular readers of this column will certainly require little or no education about the controversy that has dogged the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) since inception. To remind, CRFFN was a creation of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. It was an integral part of Nigeria’s port reform programme which was anchored on dock labour reform, restructuring of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Customs reforms and freight forwarders reform.

Monday, 25 September 2017

From Turkey with guns

While Benin Republic and China are systematically undermining Nigeria economically, Turkey seems interested in the destruction of the precious lives of our citizens. Why the Nigerian government allows its tiny neighbour to willfully authorize the passage of banned items into its territory at the expense of its economy leaves much to the imagination. The government of Benin Republic is clearly behind the smuggling of goods, including life-threatening goods, into Nigeria. The Nigerian government, through some of its top officials including the Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, have spoken severally about the havoc wreaked by Benin Republic on the Nigerian economy and on the health of Nigerians. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Why media war will not serve NPA’s best interest

Perhaps there are people behind the scene advising the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman to make certain utterances on the pages of newspapers and on television against perceived “enemies”. These advisers certainly do not mean well for the NPA boss because media war will not, by any stretch of imagination, benefit her or the organization she is privileged to serve as Managing Director.
The only beneficiaries of a media war are those paid to execute it, and I understand the need for such jobbers to want to keep the embers of conflict aglow in the public space.
Indeed, the type of uncomplimentary language one reads on the pages of newspapers with regards to NPA and the ports these days are rather strange. I do not remember seeing this level of mudslinging about the port in more than 20 years of practice in the maritime industry.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Audu Ogbeh and the illusion of yam export

A chanced meeting with a clearing agent on Creek Road, Apapa on Tuesday last week was a stark reminder of our leaders’ erroneous perception of reality. This particular agent had been vociferous in calling attention to the inactivity at Lilypond. Unfortunately, that terminal has become a victim of low cargo volume and since it is an offdock facility, it will remain dormant except the main port terminals have overflow.
So on Tuesday when I saw this agent whom I haven’t seen for a long time, it occurred to me that I should congratulate him on the revival of Lilypond terminal.
“Congrats, Lilypond is now an export terminal. I believe you’ll have plenty business to do now,” I said. My friend hissed. His answer did not leave me in doubt that the flag-off of yam for export at the terminal by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, was nothing but a sham. Perhaps the Minister did not know he was shamming? Perhaps he did not have the full picture?

Monday, 10 July 2017

Why progress eludes maritime sector

We’ve been here before. We’ve gone through this motion over and over again – it is motion without progress; activity devoid of productivity. The maritime industry has been running on the same spot without any pretence of progress in almost twenty years.
In 1999 when I joined the industry, the complaint by Customs at Seme Border was threefold – lack of office space, lack of accommodation for Customs officers and lack of space for truck examination. The Customs Area Comptroller at the time argued that his men would do wonders once the three key facilities were provided. Here we are almost two decades later, the issues remain – still no office space, no accommodation for Customs officers and no truck examination bay.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Tariff on imported vehicles: Osinbajo should fulfill APC's campaign promise

While addressing a town hall meeting of political stakeholders in Ondo State shortly before the 2015 general election, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, then Vice Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), assured Nigerians that General Muhammadu Buhari's government – if voted into office – would slash tariffs on imported vehicles.

Osinbajo made the promise in the face of a 350% hike in the Customs duties payable by Nigerians on imported new and fairly used vehicles by the PDP government.
"We do not agree that there should be high tariffs on imported cars whether new or old ones because Nigeria is not producing cars for now.

Monday, 19 June 2017

The avoidable mess at our airports

The motor park mentality, which is a recipe for chaos, has found its way into our airports. It has always been there but current trends reveal it is assuming a worrisome proportion. 

Travellers will readily attest to irritating solicitations by all sorts of characters canvassing patronage or gifts at the airport’s screening point, passengers’ waiting area and in the toilet. These undue solicitations happen at even the very best of our airport terminals. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Executive Order: First things first

The zeal and energy with which Nigeria's Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is working and tackling national issues should not come as a surprise to anyone. I've always been awed by how any one person could rise to the peak of his profession, his career and his religious calling. In academics, he rose to become a professor, which is the summit of scholarship; as a lawyer, he rose to the enviable rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria and as a Christian, he pastors a big branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

Osinbajo is a genius of our time. Just listening to him talk will leave even the most devious of his critics in admiration. He knows what to say at the right time. His words are always soothing and his steps ever so sure.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Electracy and the modern family

The world is not changing; I think it has changed substantially. The dynamics of family interactions and communication are not what they used to be. More than ever before, Thorstein Veblen’s theory of technological determinism is true holds true in today’s world.
Technological Determinism assumes that people have little or no free will in choosing their means of communication. It suggests that people will naturally embrace the technology imposed on them by the society or one which the society has settled for. The theory explains that media technology shapes how people think, feel and act. It identified the media and technology as the prime movers of social change. If you doubt Veblen, compare how we communicate today with how it used to be two decades ago.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Even Mungo Park will weep for these perambulators

When President Umaru Yar'Adua flagged off dredging of the lower section of River Niger on September 10, 2009, the euphoria that greeted the ceremony resulted from the belief that the project would open up commercial activities on Nigeria's section of West Africa's principal waterway.

Yar'Adua's government expended a princely N43 billion to dredge the river ostensibly to open it up for socio-economic activities. The government also promised to build seven ports along the banks of the river. The ports were to be located in Agenebode, Idah, Yenagoa, Baro, Lokoja, Aguta and Ogbabe. Onitsha River Port was also to be rehabilitated and expanded to accommodate a river training institute. The River Niger dredging was to cover a distance of 572 Kilometres from Warri, in Delta State, to Baro in Niger State to ensure all year round usage.

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Tin Can Island netherworld

I visited the Tin Can Island Port Complex on Wednesday after a long while. I must say that the facilities around the port have continued to disintegrate in a way that should get the authorities worried. The entire stretch of road leading into the port is a complete mess. It is dirty, stinking and looks like anything but a port access road. The front of both first and second gates of Nigeria’s second largest seaport is not any better than a slum with heaps of refuse occupying prominent and sizable portions.

Who wants Bala Usman out?

I observe that in the maritime sector, many have abandoned their duties for rumour peddling. In some quarters, professionalism has been thrown to the dogs while the search for self-gratification and the proverbial stomach infrastructure has been elevated to the level of lunacy. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

When death sentence is appropriate

While one was struggling to digest the shocking revelation that former state oil chief executive Andrew Yakubu callously and criminally hid $10 million (more than N3 billion) in a mud house in the slum of Kaduna, news of the recovery of 17 exotic cars and assorted vehicles from a premises belonging to former Customs Comptroller-General, Dikko Inde Abdullahi, created a backflow of stomach acid and juices into my oesophagus. The resultant metallic taste is sickening.

What is wrong with Nigerian leaders? How could a man, in his right senses and frame of mind, seize other people's vehicles, in the guise of fighting smuggling and lock up the merchandise in a remote location, gathering dust? The pervasive poverty mentality compels people to steal and store up what they will never need or use in their entire life.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Government must encourage, not destroy, private sector

Many in government carry on as if the private sector is a nuisance. They talk down on the private sector, criticize and do all within their powers to drag down private sector operators. This is one posture I find a bit confusing and incomprehensible.

The evidence is clear; the private sector is the engine of growth. Successful businesses drive growth, create jobs and pay the taxes that finance services and investment. In developing countries, the private sector generates 90 per cent of jobs, funds 60 per cent of all investments and provides more than 80 per cent of government revenues.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Agony of the common man 2

I did not for the life of me think I would ever have cause to ride on an okada again. I resolved almost ten years ago to have absolutely nothing to do again with the contraption. I was on my way to the Lagos airport from Apapa to catch a 5pm flight to Abuja that fateful Thursday afternoon sometimes in November 2007. I had a meeting at 8pm in Abuja. We left Apapa at about 3pm hoping to be at the airport in an hour, leaving enough time for check-in formalities and the rest.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The charade called Made-In-Nigeria campaign

The problem with the so-called buy Made-In-Nigeria campaign is that it is neither rooted in policies nor in patriotic fervour. Its mediatized and reactionary slant, as evidenced by the stage-managed titivation of Aba-made shoes and clothes by a couple of VIPs, makes its collapse like a bunch of badly stacked firewood inevitable. The campaign, which is already choking on fundamental flaws, is nothing more than a showpiece; the type gullible citizens are wont to fall for.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Agony of the common man

Are all men created equal? Perhaps, but all men are not equal.
When the job of Pastor Adeboye and a handful of other big men of God was on the line, government took immediate action but for more than two years, over 500,000 jobs have been on the line in the maritime sector without as much as an expression of concern from the same government, which rode to power on the wings of the masses.