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Prioritising Onitsha river concession

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Prioritising Onitsha river concession

After so many years on the fence, it was most gratifying the other day to hear of the sense of urgency with which the man­agement of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has undertaken the proposed ap­pointment of private concession­aires to manage our River Ports for better effectiveness.
Of course, the native bonding between our country and rivers can never be over emphasised. Foremost in this most abiding of relationships is the holy truth that the country derived its very name from a river – the Niger Area. Added to this follows the very complimentary reality that the colonists that the Almighty used to effect this initially set up enabling settlements at that river’s confluence with the River Benue at Lokoja in the present-day Kogi State.
It is equally notable that before the proliferation of roads in the country, these two – and the oth­er many rivers tributary to them – were the providers of the many crisscrossing routes that tra­versed the country and beyond. No doubt, it was only consequent upon this that development or­chestrated by the discovery of the embouchure of the Niger ensued. To this effect, rather than from the upland access through the Sa­hara, the Atlantic was to prove the easier and surer way to access the land and its interiors. Palatable or to the contrary, the truth remains that the rest is now history.
The more interesting aspect of this as it concerns our nation, however, is that as time made slow progress, these veritable routes of national and interna­tional transport in the days came to be discarded for the roads that were later constructed to aid them. So much that presently the nation’s roads have become so overburdened with vehicular traffic that they are hardly ever in shape in spite of or due to lack of regular rehabilitation. So dire has this become that but for the im­plementation of the use of other alternatives like railways and wa­terways, the nation’s transporta­tion industry may one day grind to a halt.
Thus our happiness at this recourse to the waterways by NIWA. Established by the federal government to ‘direct, manage and control’ navigation activities on the nation’s many waterways, the regulatory body with as many as 17 area offices throughout the land has only recently come alive to their responsibilities. Accord­ing to its Managing Director Barrister Boss Mustapha, as he toured NIWA’s areas offices in Onitsha, Warri, Oguta and Yene­goa, they have only just been is­sued a certificate of compliance by the Infrastructure Concession Regulation Commission (ICRC) to go ahead with the concession­ing process of the Onitsha, Lo­koja and Oguta river ports. This is with a view of having the pri­vate sector play a role in bringing these otherwise decaying facili­ties in the revamping of the na­tion’s ailing economy.
There is no gainsaying the un­derlying advantages of this laud­able move by government. If ac­complished to the letter Insha Allah, there is no end to the ben­efits to be reaped from it. Apart from affording our roads the much cherished cushion it had been crying out for over the years, it will also go a long way in open­ing up a whole lot of new fron­tiers that had been lying fallow over the years. Apart from open­ing new revenue windows for the government, many jobs will also be provided for the many unem­ployed persons lining the streets of our many towns and villages.
For instance, the river port at Onitsha in the South East – when commissioned and put in use as planned – will go a long way in wiping the tears of the long suf­fering traders in its largest mar­ket in West Africa who had been making do with ports so far away from their domicile that business costs often skyrocket just because of freight charges incurred. There is no doubt that with its envis­aged opening, port activities at these sea ports in places as di­verse as Lagos in the South West, Port-Harcourt, Calabar and War­ri in the South South are bound to suffer some loss of patronage. But like pundits have opined, it will all come out better for the country. The more so if the port at Onitsha – as hoped – will be made a port of final destination.
We at the Authority are of the opinion that NIWA gives the granting of these concessions the spirited shove it awaits so that the nation can start repeaping its advertised benefits immediately. Admittedly, Barrister Mustapha is as reported impressed with the ‘beyond-compare’ state of the car­go handling equipment and other facilities on hand at Onitsha. On this note we appeal that each port be treated independently, with­out waiting for all to be ready be­fore they can be concessioner as it were. It is on record, after all, that one at Onitsha was first con­structed in the Second Republic and abandoned, only to be refur­bished and re-commissioned in the last presidential dispensation. Sadly it has been out of use ever since because of innate bureau­cracy. We would theNIWA liaise effectively with the Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Shippers Council to see an end to this anomaly.

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Buhari returns to Nigeria after weeks of medical trip to the UK

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Buhari returns to Nigeria after weeks of medical trip to the UK

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buharihas returned to Abuja after weeks on medical trip in London.
This was according to a statement from the presidency on Thursday.
The president had been heavily criticized for his perchance for medical expedition inspite huge budgetary allocation to the Presdential Villa clinic.
His critics also blamed him for embarking on such trip even when resident doctors in his country were on industrial action.
The presidential aircraft that brought Buhari and some of his aides touched down at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja at about 4.45 p.m.
Dignitaries at the airport to welcome the president included the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammed Bello, and the National Security Adviser to the President, Babagana Monguno.
Others were the service chiefs, acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali, the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’i, the Director General of the State Securitt Services, Yusuf Bichi and other presidential aides.
President Buhari, after a brief welcoming ceremony at the airport, boarded a presidentrtial helicopter that conveyed him to the Presidential Villa.

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Participants urge Kogi to key into Open Government Partnership

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Participants urge Kogi to key into Open Government Partnership

By Friday Idachaba

Participants at a one-day stakeholders strategic meeting on Open Governance Partnership have called on Kogi government to urgently key into the global concept to promote transparency, accountability and good governance.

The participants made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting organised by Conscience For Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR) in partnership with African Centre For Leadership Strategies And Development (Centre LSD) on Tuesday in Lokoja.

The News Agency of Nigeria NAN reports that the Communiqué was signed by Mr Idris Miliki, Executive Director of Kogi-based CHRCR and made available to newsmen in Lokoja.

The Communiqué said that in view of the importance of the global OGP concept with potentials to check corruption and enhance good governance, 16 states in Nigeria had presently signed up.

It however revealed that Kogi State was yet to key into the global concept and urged the state to, as a matter of urgency, sign up for the state to derive inherent benefits of the partnership.

Objective of the meeting in line with the OGP concept, according to the Communiqué, is to encourage accountability, transparency and reduce corruption in Kogi State.

It is also to build on the existing Networks on Anti-Corruption, Transparency and Accountability (NATA), to mobilize Media institutions and professionals in reporting activities on OGP in Kogi State.

The participants however, urged multi-lateral financial institutions particular the World Bank to begin to hold State Governments accountable by verifying the situations of implementations on ground before rating them on financed projects.

The Communiqué reiterated that there should be no rivalry but rather, a broad based relationship and partnerships between the state government and the Civil Society Organizations as both work for and in the interest of the citizens.

The Communiqué said there was need for the current House of Assembly members to live up to their constitutional responsibilities by performing their oversight functions on all institutions of the state, “particularly the local government councils.”

It also called on Media Professionals to take more interest in OGP issues and partner more with the Civil Society Organisations in particular and other relevant institutions to drive the OGP Concept.

“The Civil Society Organizations needs to do more in raising awareness and sensitization of the general public on the OGP and with the Government to get the OGP.

“There is need for the development partners to continue to work with the Civil Society Organizations in the state to promote the OGP process”, the Communiqué added. (NAN)

FDJ/

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Again Presidecy tackles Bishop Kukah over damning sermon

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Again Presidecy tackles Bishop Kukah over damning sermon

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, of Sokoto Catholic diocese, has come under attack again from the Presidency for describing Nigeria as a killing field under the Buhari administration.
Kukah in his Easter homily on Sunday, said both the government and the citizens have become helpless as criminals continue to cause havoc in parts of the country.
The battle over insecurity in Nigeria has continued unabated especially in the northern parts of the country where bandits and insurgents have turned to a killing field.
Kukah said the security situation has frustrated many citizens making them to believe the government has gone AWOL (absent without official leave).

“Taunted by Boko Haram, ravaged by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other merchants of death across the nation, there is collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart” the bishop said.
“Retired military and intelligence officers lament over what has become of their glorious profession, as they watch the humiliation of our military personnel. Traumatised citizens are tortured daily by bandits.
“The nation has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly. A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hangs in the hot air. We have no message and have no idea how long this will last.”

However in a statement issued in Abuja Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman said Kukah’s “bashing” of President Muhammadu Buhari is “ungodly.”
“All citizens have their individual ideologies, even their own versions of truth. But if you profess to being a man of God, as Father Mathew Hassan Kukah does, ideology should not stand in the way of facts and fairness,” he said.
“Father Kukah has said some things that are inexplicable in his Easter message. But, in saying that the Boko Haram terrorism is worse than it was in 2015, he did not speak like a man of God. 

“Kukah should go to Borno or Adamawa to ask the citizens there the difference between 2014 and 2021.”
Shehu also faulted the bishop for saying Buhari is not concerned about those displaced because of the security crisis, citing the creation of the ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development as part of the president’s efforts in that regard.
“Some of the comments are no more than a sample of the unrestrained rhetoric Fr. Kukah trades in, which he often does in the guise of a homily,” the presidential spokesman said.
“We urge well-meaning citizens to continue to support the ongoing efforts by the administration to secure the country and move it forward.”

With additional reports from Cable

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