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Correcting the Erroneous, Unfortunate and Misleading Caption of Chibuike Amaechi’s Comment on Baro Port

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www.securenigeria365.com

By Great Imo Jonathan

I don’t know what Ships and Ports online publication wants to achieve by its misleading caption of the statement of the Honourable Minister Of Transportation, Rt Hon. Chibuike Amaechi on Baro Port. The caption reads: “Amaechi Tags Baro, Other River Ports Waste Of Public Funds”. Even the opening paragraph of their reportage was a misrepresentation of the Honourable Minister’s statement. Ships and Ports Online publication not quoting him stated in their opening paragraph that “The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the construction of river ports across the country is a waste of public funds as they are not viable projects”

But in the interview we all saw, what Amaechi said is that “if the lower River Niger is not dredged, no vessel would be able to sail to Baro port”. He went further to say “I had this conversation with my friend, Senator Goje about the viability of the river ports that we have including Onitsha, Baro, Lokoja and Oguta river ports and I felt that it was a waste of funds”

To help his audience understand what he was saying, he further stated that “The reason is that for you to have those river ports functional, you must have to dredge River Niger. For now, even if you dredge, it is still 2.5 to 3 metre draft, which determines the vessel that can go there and the minimum you can have is a 6 metre vessel. There is absolutely no vessel that will come in there at 2.5 to 3 metres draft”

He again stated that “The idea when the Baro port was concessioned is that you pick up a cargo maybe in Warri or Port Harcourt because Lagos is too far, and put it on a barge and move it to Baro. But how many times will the barge be able to move those cargoes to Baro?”

I don’t understand this idea of using a misleading headline and malicious introductory paragraph to discredit what he said when we all know Amaechi is stating the obvious. The focal point of his statement is the need for additional dredging to 6 meters to make the ports more attractive for use.

It is important that Nigerians understand Chibuike Amaechi’s statement for what it is. The feasibility report emphasis that 6 metres dredging ought to have been complied with   and should be the way forward.

First, we must appreciate him for being truthful because a lot of times people in government tend to cover things up in order to remain popular and make people happy. But in the end issues remain unattended to and over time snowball into a major problem that will have to be solved at a higher cost due to inflation.

To start with, Baro Port and others mentioned were conceived by previous administrations and the benefiting communities were not told the truth. Many of them were done on populist ground without in-depth analysis. The projects were started and there were no end to end plans. I want to believe that President Buhari’s administration and the ministry of transportation under Chibuike Amaechi saw to the completion of the contract already awarded because they don’t want to waste the money already invested and they didn’t want to disappoint the people.

Now the contracts as awarded have been completed but these ports are not functional due to error in planning. But it is important that the truth is told, our people should know why they are not in use and that is what Chibuike Amaechi has done. There is no sense in misrepresenting him except his political opponents are using this medium to want to discredit him.

Particularly as Chibuike Amaechi said, the major issue here is that the water channels are not dredged. The water channels are shallow, most of them are at 2 or 3 meters draft.. But for ships to navigate through we need to dredge them to 6 or 7 meters.

And truth be told, Nigerian Government does not have money now to meet many of its obligations, especially for the dredging of our water ways. In this era of pandemic, there are many competing needs, ranging from how to solve the health challenge to meeting the needs of ASUU to ensure that our children gets back to school, to paying pensions and salaries, funding basic infrastructural development amongst others.

This is why we need to appreciate Chibuike Amaechi for telling Nigerians the truth. At least now we know what the challenge is and those concerned can understand why after commissioning the port, it is yet to become functional. I guess many of them are knowing for the first time that building a harbour and administrative building at river side is not all there is to having a port. The critical part is having a navigable water channel.

In fact we must appreciate Chibuike Amaechi for making this public because it provides all of us the opportunity to contribute ideas on how we can solve the problem. From those in Aba who will like to see Azuinmiri Port become a reality to those in Onitsha, Uguta, Ondo, Lokoja, Gelegele and other parts of Nigeria where there are potentials for normal seaports and inland ports, the information emanating from the Minister of Transportation is a guide on how we can go about it.

The Honourable Minister did not say what he said because he doesn’t want Baro Port and other potential ports around Nigeria to work, he is only saying things as they are. In fact he will be the happiest person if all the ports in Nigeria are developed and are functional. Because he is aware of how positively they will impact on President Buhari’s administration and the reputational value he will gain from that. A functional water transportation system will instigate economic development across the water channels, decongest our roads and make them safer for users. Big companies like Dangote will redirect their transport activities to the water ways and that will mean less heavy duty trucks on our roads, less accidents occasioned by dangerous truck drivers and longer life spans for our roads. The minister and all of us will definitely be happy for it.

But going forward, I think Chibuike Amaechi’s statement is an invitation for private sector participation in the sector. This is an opportunity for wealthy Nigerians and serial investors to take advantage of what seems like a challenge to government. Private Public Partnership (PPP) agreements should be developed along designated roots and ports. Private companies can dredge and manage water channels. Existing ports can be managed by private companies and new ones can equally be built and managed by private companies. The role of government should be to provide security, regulations and enforcement of rules, and revenue collections. Yet, government at different levels will hold equity shares in those private companies though minimal.

National Inland Water Ways Authority and the Nigerian Ports Authority under the Ministry of Transportation should come up with a template for private investor participation and all bureaucratic bottlenecks should be eliminated. Marauding civil servants who derive joy in dragging government projects backwards and discouraging private investors should be warned to keep off. There is no reason Nigeria and Nigerians should continue to suffer this much when we have these huge potentials and where there are investors who can help unleash the nation’s potentials. From my observations, our bureaucracy has become a curse rather than a blessing. Whether we call them civil servants or whatever, they have become our weakest link. Even when we tag politicians with corruption, it is the civil servants that are enablers and they appear much corrupt than politicians. Judging from the reason Baro Port is not in use today we can see their imprint. Someone in the service approved or allowed for a port to be developed without asking questions about the water channels. It is not that he or she is ignorant of the consequence for the nation but it didn’t matter to him or her as long as money was shared. Now the administration under which that project was conceived is gone, Baro Port is built but it cannot function because of the water channel is not dredged and those who are supposed to benefit from its operationalization are complaining.

Yet someone wants to blame Chibuike Amaechi or maybe President Buhari for letting us know the truth. Unfortunately they are dealing with the wrong guy. Those who know Chibuike Amaechi know he is a bold and courageous man. He has a culture of saying things as they are and he cannot be intimidated. Chibuike Amaechi loves this country and he has demonstrated that over time. He is detribalised, very focused and forward looking. Chibuike Amaechi is not a saint but on this issue you cannot contradict him.

Lets work with what he has told us and fashion a solution once and for all. This is an opportunity to discuss the entirety of the sector and waterways economy, it is huge and it can create thousands of jobs and improve our economy.

Great Imo Jonathan, a Strategist, Media and Public Relations Consultant writes from Abuja and can be reached through greatimosoundmind@yahoo.com

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Hon. Onari at 55: An icon and pillar of the progressive movement – Eze

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Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has felicitated with former Rivers Lawmaker, ex Admin. Secretary of the President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Office and Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Rt. Hon. Onari Brown.

In a statement made available to media houses, the party chieftain said Onari’s  stunning credentials and impressive antecedents speak of his unwavering commitment towards the development of society for the good of all of humanity.

Describing him as a man with a heart deeply rooted in compassion and love for humanity, Chief Eze said Onari, a consummate administrator remains an icon, an enigma, a study in resoluteness, benevolence, audacity, resourcefulness and above all, a composite gentleman with the fear of God.

The party Chief said his creativity in leadership and commitment to public service has earned him a place in public esteem and has positioned himself as an emerging force in public administration. Given his soaring profile, Onari is one man whose pride of place in the politics of Rivers State is unarguable

Asserting his thought on Rt. Hon. Onari Brown, the exceptional leader of our time, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi stated, [in his birthday message to this great leader stated and I quote, “It is NY prayer that from this day, the hand of the Almighty shall guard abs guide you in a new dimension, and build you into the image of His thoughts towards you.”

In describing Onari, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, one of the outstanding Pillars of the APC in Nigeria said “Onari is a quintessential gentleman who rose through the ranks to become a reference for God’s amazing grace and mercy has continued to live a life of purpose and impact, even as he is deeply committed to the business of touching lives.”

While to another APC Leader and Chairman, NIMASA Board, Rt. Hon. Asita Honourable said this, “It brings me great joy to celebrate you today. I pray the Almighty God to bless you and wraps His mighty hands of protection around you on this special day and always “

Eze postulated further that one thing that differentiates and distinguish Hon. Brown amongst other leaders of his class is that he wears humility and loyalty as a cloth and today pride himself as one of the finest disciples of the political family of Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and one of the emerging powers in the politics of Rivers State

Chief Eze said after Onari served as the Director of Administration; (APC) 2019 Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) and  even when he could not be given any platform or recognition considering his inputs in the formation and stability of APC, he kept his cool and continued to work assiduously for the progress and good of a party on which ideology he believes until four years after when he was appointed as the Executive Director in Nigeria Ports Authority.

He said Onari’s qualities are true definitions of loyalty and the kind of patient a leader must posses. Unlike most of his colleagues who decided to jump ship immediately they were not considered for an appointment.

 

Background and Educational Qualifications of Rt. Hon. Onari Brown:

 Eze highlighted and postulated that Hon. Onari Brown was born on 13th February 1966, in Obonoma, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State and attended Government Secondary School, Ke, Degema Local Government Area, Rivers State where he obtained his West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1983.

He also attended Rivers State University of Science and Technology Port Harcourt from where he got his Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) Management in 1990.

From the same Rivers State University of Science and Technology Port Harcourt, he had his Master of Business Administration (MBA) Management in 2009 and proceeded to obtain Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) in 2013.

He is a Fellow, Chartered Institute of Public Diplomacy and Management.

 

Working Experience:

Accordingly, Onari Brown has a summary of twenty three (23) years of Post Qualification working experience in the Banking, Energy Servicing and Politics/Public Service Sectors. He worked with Oceanic Bank International (Nigeria) Limited various branches across the country in Treasury, Marketing and Operations from 1993 to 2000. He worked with Mipet Services Limited Port Harcourt, as the Head, Personnel/Administration from 2000 to 2004.

He was also a Supervisor, Finance, Budget, Economic Planning, Education and Special Duties in Akuku-Toru Local Government Council, Abonnema 2004 to 2006.

His Political Journey:

On the Political arena, Onari Brown was a Member Representing Akuku-Toru Constituency 1, in the Rivers State House of Assembly from 2007 to 2015. He served as Chairman and or Member of various Committees, some of which were on, Commission and Agencies, Commerce and Industries, Information and Training, Agriculture and Urban Development.

As a Member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) he served on various Committees, key among them were: the All Progressives Congress (APC) 2019 Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) where he was the Director of Administration; All Progressives Congress (APC) State Congress Committee, Edo State; where he was the Chairman and All Progressives Congress (APC) Membership Registration Committee, Edo State; where he was the Secretary.

Hobbies And Inspiration;

His Hobbies include Reading, Sports, Nature watching and International Affairs while his inspiration is Amazing Grace.

Congratulating him on his birthday, Eze expressed thanks to President Buhari and his son, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, for duly recognising the great qualities of this unassuming leader whose love for Progressives members is infectious.

Eze wished him the best in all future endeavours and prayed God to continue to give him the requisite foresight needed to make indelible footprints on the sands of time in his service to fatherland.

“Happy birthday my brother, friend and leader and may our great God not only bless your new age but grant you more fruitful years for better services to humanity”, Eze said.

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LAGOS, POLICE HALT PLANNED PROTEST, COUNTER RALLIES IN LEKKI OVER THREATS OF VIOLENCE

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The Lagos State Government has issued a stern warning to various opposing groups planning to embark on protests at the Lekki Toll Plaza on Saturday, advising them to shelve the plan. It is not an auspicious moment for such action, the State Government told the groups planning opposing rallies.

The position of the State Government was made known at a joint press conference held at the Press Centre on Thursday by the Attorney General of Lagos, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, and Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu.

The Government said it acknowledged the rights of the citizens to a lawful assembly and freedom to express their feelings as guaranteed by Section 39 and 40 of the Constitution, but it said the rights did not give any citizen the freedom to block highways and prevent other citizens from moving freely within the State.

Onigbanjo said the Government would not allow any group to push the State, once again, to the edge of carnage, strongly advising those organising the “Occupy Lekki Toll Gate” and “Defend Lagos” protests to desist from the planned action. He said the State Government’s respect for the citizens’ rights to protest should not be seen as a licence to break the laws, warning that any individual or corporate organisation that incites an action leading to the destruction of public and private properties would be prosecuted and be made to pay damages.

He said: “Attention of the State Government has been drawn to the planned protest scheduled for Saturday February 13, 2021 at the Lekki Toll Gate for and against the opening of the Admiralty Toll Gate. The State is aware of Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which guarantees the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. However, such right does not permit the violation of the rights of other citizens in the State.

“While the State recognises the importance of exercising the rights to peaceful protests, the same cannot extend to blockage of roads or actions preventing other members of the public from enjoying their fundamental rights to move freely within the State. Any individual or corporate body that incites or condones any act leading to the destruction of public and private properties shall be prosecuted under the extant laws and in addition to any penalty the court might pronounce. Such person or body will be liable to compensate for any damage, which may arise as a result of the action or inaction of such person or body.”

The Attorney General also said the public health crisis occasioned by the spread of deadly variants of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) should discourage anyone attempting to assemble people for the planned protests, urging all groups to consider COVID-19 protocols that limit public gathering not to be more than 50 persons.

Onigbanjo, therefore, directed the State’s Police Command to stop opposing groups from holding rallies in Lekki and any other parts of Lagos.

Odumosu said the security intelligence gathered by the Police Command indicated the “Occupy Lekki Toll Gate” protest and planned counter rallies would degenerate into a breakdown of law and order, stressing that the police will not allow any group to carry out the action.

The police chief said adequate arrangements on the deployment of security forces had been put in place to stop any violent protest, gathering and procession in any part of Lagos, stressing that the Police Command would rise in protection of law-abiding residents from any form of the violence.

He said: “The Police Command has gathered credible intelligence that some hidden agents of destruction and shadow parties that orchestrated the last EndSARS violence have concluded plans to cause another mayhem in Lagos and spread the same to other parts of the country, tactically and spontaneously, like the recent violence.

“Premised on the available intelligence and due threat analyses carried out on the planned protest, the Police Command perceives such proposed protest as a calculated attempt to cause pandemonium and massive destruction of lives and properties under whatever guide; such will not be allowed to hold in Lagos.”

Odumosu appealed to the general public to advise their wards to ignore mobilisation for the protest and gathering in flouting the existing peace and security situation of the State. He said the police would resist the protest with necessary force, while respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Omotoso said the steps taken by the State Government on the planned protest was not to take away the fundamental rights of the citizens, but to prevent re-enactment of the event that led to destruction of public and private assets last October.

The Commissioner sued for peace, urging the organisers of the planned protests and rallies to allow the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry conclude its investigation on what transpired between the military and EndSARS protesters.

“We believe this kind of tension and anxiety being brought forward by the planned protest will not allow the panel to do a thorough job. If the authorities allow the protest and counter rallies to go on, there would be a breakdown of order and Lagos is not ripe for such action. It is on this premise that the State Government is appealing to all parties to thread with caution. Both sides have the right to express their feelings, but the time is wrong,” Omotoso said.

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SANWO-OLU MOURNS JAKANDE

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has mourned the passing of the first Civilian Governor of the State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande.

Jakande, a renowned journalist and elder statesman, who governed Lagos State during the aborted Second Republic between 1979 and 1983, died on Thursday at the age of 91.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, in a condolence message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, on Thursday said the late Jakande will remain one of the best public office holders in the political history of Nigeria based on how he transformed Lagos State and Nigeria during his tenure as Honourable Minister of Works.

The Governor said Alhaji Jakande popularly referred to as ‘Baba Kekere’ brought a lot of development to Lagos State as governor between October 1,1979 and December 31, 1983 in line with the five cardinal programmes of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), founded by the late sage and former Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

The Governor also described the former Minister of Works as an epitome of honesty, dedication and selflessness, who used his elevated positions for the betterment of the people he served.

Governor Sanwo-Olu said the late Alhaji Jakande is one of the few Lagosians and Nigerian leaders that demystified politics by bringing governance closer to the people.

He said Jakande left with impeccable records in Lagos State and that is why he remains till date, a reference point for governors in Lagos and other parts of the country.

He said: “On behalf of the Government and people of Lagos State, I want to express my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and associates of the late Alhaji Lateef Jakande as well as members of the progressive community.

“No doubt, the death of Alhaji Jakande is a colossal loss to Lagos State and Nigeria. He made lots of positive impact and contribution during his lifetime to the growth of our dear State by introducing housing and educational programmes that targeted the poor, building new neighbourhood primary and secondary schools and providing free education for all.”

“Baba Jakande within his four years in office established the Lagos State University. His government constructed over 30,000 housing units,which were of great value to the masses.

“Having distinguished himself as ‘Action Governor’, Alhaji Jakande was appointed Minister of Works in 1993 where he replicated his developmental programmes, by building thousands of housing units in different parts of Nigeria as Federal Low Cost Housing Estates.

The Governor added that the late Jakande’s selling point is not only in politics but journalism, his chosen profession.

“Alhaji Jakande also made remarkable contributions to the media industry as a respected journalist and media manager. He used the power of the press to influence positive changes in the country’s social and political landscape.”

The Governor reminded Lagosians that the best way to immortalise ‘LKJ’ as late Alhaji Jakande is popularly known, is to ensure that good governance the deceased advocated spreads to every facet of the Nigerian society.

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