By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged why the Nigeria economy has not been growing as expected over the years. This is because of poor planning and appointment of inexperienced people as economic Advisers or to head the ministry of Finance oversees. The fallout was ill advise to past and present political leaders leading to poor planning on how to speedily grow the economy.
Patrick Egesi, a United Kingdom trained Freight Forwarder and former Director General of National Maritime Administration, NMA, now baptized , National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, says ”poor planning of the economy by those that ought to know better was responsible for the sluggish growth of the nation’s economy. He noted that experts who understands the language of growing the economy would never be brought close to the system by the political leaders because they have no one to push forward their case. .
Egesi who spoke at a Workshop on the ” Prospects and Challenges of Logistics Services as the livewire of Nigeria’s Maritime sector”, organised by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria , MARAN, at its International Press center, Apapa, Lagos, disclosed that the country had found itself on the cross the road because those who have no idea about the economy had been appointed Economic Advisers and Ministers of National Planning or Finance to oversee the coming.
The former NMA boss, now a private citizen remarked that the country got it right with the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala a World Bank top executive, by former President Olusegun Obasanj and later retained by the then President Goodluck Jonathan to over-see the economy. He maintained that Nigeria is where it is today economically in the comity of nations because of ”poor planning”.
The renowned Freight Forwarder cited the the Oshodi -Apapa Express Way which turned a trap because of heavy trucks plying the road. He stressed that if the country had been properly planned , there was no basis for heavy trucks to ply on the road but a different road network provided for their use . The former NMA helmsman frowned at the regular site of truck laden Containers on the road. he disclosed that throughout his stay in the United Kingdom as a working student, he never saw a truck laden with Container on the road in London. He disclosed that truck laden with Containers could not use roads used by car but cars could use roads used by such trucks because of the light weight.
Giving his personal views, he said the country ought to have been planned by providing motor able roads to ease logistics of moving cargoes from the ports to another location outside the port. An angry Egesi was worried that the government had approved the establishment of Inland depots in the six geo-political regions of the country without taking into consideration the state of the roads. He queried: where are the roads that lead to the Inland depots for trade facilitation.
He lamented that the country’s political leaders over time ”forgot about our unity to pursue their narrow interest”, stating that they were not concerned ”how you move or connect to your neighbour in another location”.
The NMA former Chief Executive also came hard on the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, which he described as” an enemy of the people”. He is not happy that the Customs which ought to be an ”accelerator of trade”, is more concerned in advising the government on how to raise duties as a way of generating more revenue from the maritime sector. Many believe that that there are still people in Egisi’s class who still have much to contribute in the development of this country. One of the legacies of the renowned freight Forwarder turned Administrator was the former NMA, which metamorphosed into the present NIMASA.
The present office Complex of the agency was said to have been bought at N41 million from the property owner in the late ’80s and the necessary structures put in place to reguale the nation’s shipping industry professionally. His exit and others who had the interest of the agency at heart may have thrown it open to politicians to manipulate and kill the dream of stting up by the then Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, rtd.
It would be recalled that Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, NCS, and his men celebrated the N1.037 tr that was paid into the Federation Account in 2017 as against N770.57 billion paid in 2016. He maintained that the government could be thinking of how much to generate from the Maritime sector because there is no planning. ” if you don’t plan , you are bound to lose economically”, he said. It is not surprising why Henry Cline, General Manager, PTOL, who read the position paper of the Concessioners at the MARAN Workshop warned that a country that does not develop its Agricultural sector in order to export but depend only on imports to raise revenue to execute its Capital projects ” is doomed to suffer economically and not make progress”.
lucky Eyis Amiewero, National President, Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, said the situation is so bad that the access roads that connects the major ports in Lagos: Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, Brawal and Lilipond could not be accessed by port users due to bad roads, pot holes, and gridlocks, blaming on lack of planning by policy makers.
Amiewero disclosed that ” the negative impact the bad roads, pot holes, and gridlock constitute to the conomy is massive that runs into trillions of naira annually,” noting that this has led diversion of vessels to neighbouring ports in the West African sub-region.
He lamented that due to poor planning, ” Tincan, PTML, Brawal and Lilipond are surrounded by numerous tank farms which puts the port environment at risk of fire disaster.”
The NCMDLCA boss who is worried about what poor planning had done to the economy said the Oshodi-Apap Express Way and the road linking the ports had turned to a parking lot for truck with emty Containers for off loading into the ports ,truck going for loading Containers ,trucks waiting for clients, breakdown trucks, export laden Containers, empty tanker waiting for loading of fuel, empty tankers looking for clients, breakdown takers and Concentration of tank farms along the access the road.
Cline, the PTOL, General Manager, is optimistic that ” as the country plans and advances economically , the dispensability of logistics practice will become more pronounced and play its rightful role in the economic progress of the country”.
H e may have thrown a challenge to president Muhammadu Buhari and his array of Economic Advisers , Kemi Adesun, Minister of Finance and the minister of National planning to put on their thinking cap to facilitate further development of the nation’s logistics infrastructure to effectively perform and eliminate congestions on the existing road network to the port.