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Pressure mounts on ministers as stakeholders demand transformation of transport, maritime sectors

By ADAKU WALTER

With the appointment of Muazu Sambo and Ademola Adegoroye as Minister of Transportation and Minister of State for Transportation, stakeholders have expressed the hope of rapid development in the maritime sector in the next nine months before President Muhammadu Buhari leaves office in May next year.

President Buhari had on July 6, 2022 reshuffled his cabinet, while approving the appointment of Muazu Sambo as substantive Minister of Transportation and Ademola Adegoroye as Minister of State for Transportation.

Sambo, who replaced Rotimi Amaechi who had resigned in June 2022 to contest the presidential primary elections under the All Progressive Congress (APC), was a former Lagos Area Manager of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and worked as senior civil engineer with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

It would be recalled that stakeholders have lamented about fielding persons who do not have knowledge about the transport and maritime industry to head the ministry, which they claimed is responsible for the poor state of trade facilitation thereby hindering the sector from generating the desired revenue to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the economy.

The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) had projected that the maritime sector will generate N7 trillion revenue yearly and will create no fewer than four million jobs in the next five years, if properly harnessed.

Also, Armstrong & Associates, a research and consulting firm, estimated that the transportation sector, seen as the gateway to Nigeria’s economy would boost trade and investments opportunities and generate over $9.6 trillion as of 2018.

Stakeholders, however, expressed the hope that there would be drastic and positive change in transportation infrastructure and inefficiency in road, rail, water, air and pipeline and the seaports remain critical in the maritime and transportation sectors.

Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, who congratulated the ministers, said the appointments were a clear testimony and recognition of their competence, hard work, dedication and track record of achievements in their previous national assignments.

He said the agency strongly believes that both ministers will bring their wealth of experience, wisdom and knowledge to bear in the discharge of their new assignments by improving the affairs of the Ministry.

Also, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, said Sambo and Adegoroye’s wealth of experience and their track record of excellent performance would undoubtedly boost the ongoing efforts at improving efficiency and advancing the frontiers of trade facilitation.

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On his part, Chairman, Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN), Abubakar Tsanni, said the appointment of the ministers was apt, especially at a time when the ministry was in need of competent, experienced and patriotic leaders, who will continue to execute various development projects.

He described Sambo as ‘a round peg in a round hole,’ as he was not new in the industry, adding that the minister has a rich background in maritime administration as a former Area Manager of NIWA.

Tsanni, who described the new minister as an experienced, patriotic and hardworking administrator, who will bring more hope and progress to the ministry, pledged the council’s commitment to work hand in hand with the ministers for the success and development of the transportation sector.

Also, National President of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Frank Ogunojemite, stated that Sambo has little or no time for festivities with numerous the numerous issues that require urgent intervention in the transportation ministry.

Ogunojemite encouraged Sambo to quickly study some of the activities and recommendations of his predecessors at the Ministry, especially submissions drawn from robust engagements with industry stakeholders.

National President of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA), Bob Yousou, said the minister’s experience in the maritime industry eminently qualified him for the job, adding that he would take the industry to greater heights, especially as he had worked in the terrain.

While congratulating the ministers on their appointments, Ondo State Governor, State, Rotimi Akeredolu, charged them to exploit the opportunities of their new office to help the state’s quest for the establishment of a deep seaport as Ondo needed a port.

Meanwhile, other stakeholders have expressed dissatisfaction on the change in the ministry at this point when agencies under the ministry needed urgent intervention for quicker development.

Acting President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, faulted the recent change in the leadership of the ministry, adding that such changes by trial by error was capable of breeding stagnancy and neo-colonialism.

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