By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has revealed its position to discourage unsolicited port development proposals that are not based on viable projects and future developments contained in the infrastructure development plan of the government under the National Transport Policy and programmes of agencies under the sector.
This is coming as the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) embarks on the process of developing a port development master plan that would set out the policy on port infrastructure development to match the current and future economic expectations/national goals and objectives.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Mu’azu Jaji, in his presentation titled How To Streamline The Qualification Process To Encourage The Construction Of New Ports By States For A Sustainable Nigerian Blue Economy at the recent Niger Delta Blue Economy Investment Forum confirmed that the government had received unsolicited proposals some of which were initiated by state governments including the Lekki Port which was prior to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act, 2005.
He said, “Unsolicited proposals from state governments must undergo the required due diligence and procedures for constructing new ports. There is no shortcut to the process. Federal agencies also need to reduce the red-tape bureaucracies to make the process easy and seamless, observing the tenets of the ease-of-doing-Business, in order to attract Foreign Direct Investments.”
He noted that over the years, it had been observed that the bane of port development in Nigeria had been the absence of a Port Master Plan, which explained the number of unviable ports as well as urban encroachment to the port environment.
“A good example is the Lagos Ports with the attendant congestion along the port corridors. This development comes with its concomitant negative consequences on port efficiency and at a cost. This must be guarded against in future developments,” he said.
“Port development must be preceded by rigorous studies to determine both technical and economic viability. This is the only way by which we can move on the path of a sustainable Blue Economy,” he added.
The port development masterplan by the NPA was conceived to identify the gaps in infrastructure capacity; make projections on needed growth to address the capacity deficiency; and plan future development to ensure that port development is spaced out in time and over locations to ensure in time development, technology is up to date, avoid overcapacity that could result in unviable ports as in (Delta cluster of ports in the 1970s), ensure competition, and achieve economic growth, among other policy objectives.
The Minister acknowledged the legal framework governing the operation of ports in the country as in the Exclusive Legislative List contained in Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution such that all Nigerian Ports are Federal Ports with no provision for private ownership of ports in Nigeria, however, with the enactment of the ICRC Act, 2005, a window has been opened for the participation of the private sector in port development through Public-Private Partnerships arrangement.
While no private ownership of the port is currently contemplated by the country’s laws, current port development processes involve submitting a proposal for development (solicited or unsolicited), developing an outline business case and the final business case containing technical and financial details and obtaining all necessary approvals to proceed, granting of a concession for port development and operations by the Federal Government; and executing a concession agreement containing details of the concessions – performance parameters, financial provisions, technical standards, concession period (which takes into account the recoupment period, construction period and actual port operations period, reversionary rights and other relevant provisions).
Mr Jaji believed that the emergence of the PPP processes had further streamlined the qualification process for private participants in the blue economy.
“This was an enabler that made it possible for the state governments to be major promoters in the emergence of Deep Sea Ports in Nigeria. Every port has both the waterfront and the backup land area, which is within the legislation of the federal government, while the latter is within that of the state since the Certificate of Occupancy is being given by the state government,” he stated.
The Minister also acknowledged that the Blue Economy concept had developed as a sound paradigm for the comprehensive and sustainable management of marine and coastal areas and their natural resources.
He said, “Considering that Blue Economy includes activities such as fishing which involves the use of vessels/crafts that call at waterfront terminals or jetties, there is also a framework for licensing facilities in this category. This could be through the grant of jetty licenses or the designation of existing terminals as fishing terminals.
“One such process which is ongoing is for the designation of KLT I in Lagos as a fishing terminal with the hope that others will follow across the country. It needs to be stated that fishing terminals are ports used for vessel calls, just like any other facility. The involvement of NPA in this situation is the provision of the facility while the fishing activity is regulated under a different sector.
“Coherent and optimized co-existence of all sectors of activity is needed while preserving the quality of ecosystems, goods, and services in the long term.
“The Port plays a pivotal role in the development of the Blue Economy as the interface between maritime and terrestrial space.”
While acknowledging that Ports are the epicentre of many aspects of the Blue Economy, including:, tourism and leisure, fishing, aquaculture, offshore renewable energy, marine conservation, coastal protection, shipbuilding, oil, and gas, he said any call for streamlining the qualifications process for the development of new ports in a Blue Economy would be factually inaccurate with the assumption that there was hitherto no uniform standards for the qualification of new port developers.
Rather, he said the emergence of a Blue Economy would only introduce another layer or layers of qualification for new ports and facilities.
“The aspect of the Blue Economy recently introduced only added another layer or layers of qualification that had not been in existence since issues relating to the environment and its impacts on port development is a relatively recent phenomenon,” he said.
“The requirement for Environmental and Social Impact and Assessment studies in capital projects, including port infrastructure, is a relatively new concept in these climes.
“It is simply required as a major qualification that the developers of new ports MUST show how such developments will impact all aspects of the ocean, including diversity, environmental protection, commerce, the lives of members of the host communities, and the improvement of the economic prosperity of the country through the oceans,” he noted.
Violent Protest Erupts in Ibadan Over Naira Scarcity
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
There are reports of a violent protest in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, over the scarcity of old and new Naira notes, Business Post has gathered.
It was learned that residents of the ancient city are venting their anger over the hardship caused by the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the federal government.
The central bank redesigned the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes and asked citizens to return their old banknotes because they would cease to be legal tender.
However, since the introduction of the new currency notes in circulation on December 15, 2022, many Nigerians have not been able to withdraw their money from banks, fuelling anger in the land.
On Friday afternoon, some residents of Ibadan, especially in Iwo Road, took to the streets to express their frustration at the development, which is coming at a time consumers have to queue for petrol.
They had bonfires on the road and disrupted business activities in some areas of the city.
Recall that today, the Governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, announced the suspension of his campaign activities over the scarcity of Naira and fuel.
Also on Friday, the Governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) met with President Muhammadu Buhari to appeal to him to change his mind on the Naira swap policy because of the effect on the people and the 2023 general elections starting later this month.
The President had earlier been asked not to show up in Kano State because of fears of a violent protest over the development. After the deadline was moved forward, the Governor of the state, Mr Abdullahi Ganduje, said he was safe to visit the ancient city.
However, during his visit to Kano, there were reports of a demonstration, with a chopped stoned by some residents of the state and convoys attacked by angry protesters.
The government claimed the protest was not directed at President Buhari, while the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said otherwise.
APC Governors Beg Buhari to Allow Use of Old, New Naira Notes
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to allow the use of old and Naira notes as legal tender in the country until the former is naturally mopped up from the circulation.
This appeal was made on Friday by Governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) during a meeting with Mr Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In a brief chat with reporters after the meeting, the Governor of Kano State, Mr Abdullahi Ganduje, said after the request was made to the President, he promised to look into it.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last month redesigned the N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes and said the old currency denominations would cease to be legal tender from January 31, 2023.
However, two days before the deadline, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, after a meeting with President Buhari in his hometown in Daura, Katsina State, said the deadline had been shifted to February 10, 2023, noting that Nigerians had a grace period of February 17, 2023, to return the old notes to the bank.
On Tuesday, January 31, he appeared before the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on the CBN policy to say Nigerians could still take their old notes to banks after the deadline, promising that citizens will not lose their funds.
Today, the APC Governors met with Mr Buhari to discuss the scarcity of Naira in the financial system and also the lingering fuel scarcity.
One of the Governors present at the gathering, Mr Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, had claimed this week that the scarcity of cash and petrol was the handiwork of some elements in the Villa, who do not want the party to succeed in the forthcoming elections.
“We spoke with the President to allow the old and new notes to co-exist until the old notes die a natural death,” Mr Ganduje told newsmen while walking out after the meeting.
“Sir, did you discuss the petrol scarcity with him,” one of the reporters asked the Kano Governor, and he responded, “Yes.”
Oyo Governor Suspends Campaign Activities Over Fuel, Naira Crisis
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Due to the unending fuel and new Naira notes crisis rocking the country, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has suspended his campaign activities.
Mr Makinde is seeking another term in office under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He commenced his campaign activities last month, asking residents of the state to give him another chance to serve them.
But the scarcity of premium petrol spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, and cash has put Nigerians under untold hardship.
Governor Makinde, during the flag-off of the Omi-Adio-Ido Road on Friday, said in solidarity with the people over anti-people economy policies of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government, he would be suspending his campaign.
A statement by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Wasiu Olatubosun confirmed this.
In the statement, Mr Makinde, who was in Ido to continue his campaign, directed that all campaign activities be suspended until further notice.
Mr Olatubosun said Governor Makinde noted that the suffering of his people was too much, saying he was elected to protect their interests and well-being.
The Commissioner said his boss, in an emotionally laden voice, directed leaders of the party in Oyo State to suspend the campaign.
“As a mark of honour to citizens and residents of Oyo State, the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has directed that all campaign activities of the party at all levels be suspended until further notice,” the statement read.
“Governor Seyi Makinde’s love for his people necessitated this unprecedented move at this time. We urge all residents and citizens of the State to remain calm as we navigate through this difficult period together,” he added.
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